AskDefine | Define artistic

Dictionary Definition

artistic adj
1 relating to or characteristic of art or artists; "his artistic background"
2 satisfying aesthetic standards and sensibilities; "artistic workmanship"
3 aesthetically pleasing; "an artistic flower arrangement" [syn: aesthetic, esthetic, pleasing]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Adjective

  1. having or revealing creative skill
  2. relating to or characteristic of art or artists
  3. aesthetically pleasing

Translations

having creative skill
relating to art or artists
aesthetically pleasing
translations to be checked

Romanian

Etymology

artistique

Adjective

  1. artistic

Declension

Related terms

Extensive Definition

The ultimate derivation of fine in fine art comes from the philosophy of Aristotle, who proposed four causes or explanations of a thing. The final cause of a thing is the purpose for its existence, and the term fine art is derived from this notion. If the final cause of an artwork is simply the artwork itself, "art for art's sake", and not a means to another end, then that artwork could appropriately be called fine. The closely related concept of beauty is classically defined as "that which when seen, pleases". Pleasure is the final cause of beauty and thus is not a means to another end, but an end in itself.
Art can describe several things: a study of creative skill, a process of using the creative skill, a product of the creative skill, or the audience’s experience with the creative skill. The creative arts (art as discipline) are a collection of disciplines (arts) that produce artworks (art as objects) that are compelled by a personal drive (art as activity) and echo or reflect a message, mood, or symbolism for the viewer to interpret (art as experience). Artworks can be defined by purposeful, creative interpretations of limitless concepts or ideas in order to communicate something to another person. Artworks can be explicitly made for this purpose or interpreted based on images or objects. Art is something that stimulates an individual's thoughts, emotions, beliefs, or ideas through the senses. It is also an expression of an idea and it can take many different forms and serve many different purposes. Although the application of scientific theories to derive a new scientific theory involves skill and results in the "creation" of something new, this represents science only and is not categorized as art.

Theories

In the nineteenth century, artists were primarily concerned with ideas of truth and beauty. The aesthetic theorist John Ruskin, who championed the raw naturalism of J. M. W. Turner, saw art's role as the communication by artifice of an essential truth that could only be found in nature. The arrival of Modernism in the early twentieth century lead to a radical break in the conception of the function of art, and then again in the late twentieth century with the advent of postmodernism. Clement Greenberg's 1960 article "Modernist Painting" defines Modern Art as "the use of characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself". Greenberg originally applied this idea to the Abstract Expressionist movement and used it as a way to understand and justify flat (non-illusionistic) abstract painting: Realistic, naturalistic art had dissembled the medium, using art to conceal art; modernism used art to call attention to art. The limitations that constitute the medium of painting – the flat surface, the shape of the support, the properties of the pigment — were treated by the Old Masters as negative factors that could be acknowledged only implicitly or indirectly. Under Modernism these same limitations came to be regarded as positive factors, and were acknowledged openly. Philosopher David Novitz has argued that disagreement about the definition of art are rarely the heart of the problem. Rather, "the passionate concerns and interests that humans vest in their social life" are "so much a part of all classificatory disputes about art" (Novitz, 1996). According to Novitz, classificatory disputes are more often disputes about our values and where we are trying to go with our society than they are about theory proper. For example, when the Daily Mail criticized Hirst's and Emin">Tracey EminEmin’s work by arguing "For 1,000 years art has been one of our great civilising forces. Today, pickled sheep and soiled beds threaten to make barbarians of us all" they are not advancing a definition or theory about art, but questioning the value of Hirst’s and Emin’s work. In 1998, Arthur Danto, suggested a thought experiment showing that "the status of an artifact as work of art results from the ideas a culture applies to it, rather than its inherent physical or perceptible qualities. Cultural interpretation (an art theory of some kind) is therefore constitutive of an object’s arthood."

Controversial art

Theodore Gericault's "Raft of the Medusa" (1820), was a social commentary on a current event, unprecedented at the time. Edouard Manet's "Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe" (1863), was considered scandalous not because of the nude woman, but because she is seated next to fully-dressed men. John Singer Sargent's "Madame Pierre Gautreau (Madam X)" (1884), caused a huge uproar over the reddish pink used to color the woman's ear lobe, considered far too suggestive and supposedly ruining the high-society model's reputation.
In the twentieth century, Pablo Picasso's Guernica (1937) used arresting cubist techniques and stark monochromatic oils, to depict the harrowing consequences of a contemporary bombing of a small, ancient Basque town. Leon Golub's Interrogation III (1981), depicts a female nude, hooded detainee strapped to a chair, her legs open to reveal her sexual organs, surrounded by two tormentors dressed in everyday clothing. Andres Serrano's Piss Christ (1989) is a photograph of a crucifix, sacred to the Christian religion and representing Christ's sacrifice and final suffering, submerged in a glass of the artist's own urine. The resulting uproar led to comments in the United States Senate about public funding of the arts.
In the twenty-first century, Eric Fischl created Tumbling Woman as a memorial to those who jumped or fell to their death in the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Initially installed at Rockefeller Center in New York City, within a year the work was removed as too disturbing.

Art, class and value

Art has been perceived by some as belonging to some social classes and often excluding others. In this context, art is seen as an upper-class activity associated with wealth, the ability to purchase art, and the leisure required to pursue or enjoy it. For example, the palaces of Versailles or the Hermitage in St. Petersburg with their vast collections of art, amassed by the fabulously wealthy royalty of Europe exemplify this view. Collecting such art is the preserve of the rich, or of governments and institutions.
Fine and expensive goods have been popular markers of status in many cultures, and continue to be so today. There has been a cultural push in the other direction since at least 1793, when the Louvre, which had been a private palace of the Kings of France, was opened to the public as an art museum during the French Revolution. Most modern public museums and art education programs for children in schools can be traced back to this impulse to have art available to everyone. Museums in the United States tend to be gifts from the very rich to the masses (The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, for example, was created by John Taylor Johnston, a railroad executive whose personal art collection seeded the museum.) But despite all this, at least one of the important functions of art in the 21st century remains as a marker of wealth and social status.
There have been attempts by artists to create art that can not be bought by the wealthy as a status object. One of the prime original motivators of much of the art of the late 1960s and 1970s was to create art that could not be bought and sold. It is "necessary to present something more than mere objects" said the major post war German artist Joseph Beuys. This time period saw the rise of such things as performance art, video art, and conceptual art. The idea was that if the artwork was a performance that would leave nothing behind, or was simply an idea, it could not be bought and sold. "Democratic precepts revolving around the idea that a work of art is a commodity impelled the aesthetic innovation which germinated in the mid-1960s and was reaped throughout the 1970s. Artists broadly identified under the heading of Conceptual art... substituting performance and publishing activities for engagement with both the material and materialistic concerns of painted or sculptural form... [have] endeavored to undermine the art object qua object."
In the decades since, these ideas have been somewhat lost as the art market has learned to sell limited edition DVDs of video works, invitations to exclusive performance art pieces, and the objects left over from conceptual pieces. Many of these performances create works that are only understood by the elite who have been educated as to why an idea or video or piece of apparent garbage may be considered art. The marker of status becomes understanding the work instead of necessarily owning it, and the artwork remains an upper-class activity. "With the widespread use of DVD recording technology in the early 2000s, artists, and the gallery system that derives its profits from the sale of artworks, gained an important means of controlling the sale of video and computer artworks in limited editions to collectors."

Forms, genres, mediums, and styles

The creative arts are often divided into more specific categories, such as decorative arts, plastic arts, performing arts, or literature. So for example painting is a form of visual art, and poetry is a form of literature. An art form is a specific form for artistic expression to take; it is a more specific term than art, but less specific than genre. An artistic medium is the substance the artistic work is made out of. So for example, stone and bronze are both mediums that sculpture uses sometimes. Multiple forms can share a medium (poetry and music, both use sound), or one form can use multiple media.
A genre is a set of conventions and styles within an art form and media. For instance, well recognized genres in film are western, horror and romantic comedy. Genres in music include death metal and trip hop. Genres in painting include still life, and pastoral landscape. A particular work of art may bend or combine genres but each genre has a recognizable group of conventions, clichés and troupes. (One note: the word genre has a second older meaning within painting; genre painting was a phrase used in the 17th to 19th century to refer specifically to paintings of scenes of everyday life and can still be used in this way.)
An artwork, artist’s, or movement's style is the distinctive method and form that art takes. Any loose brushy, dripped or poured abstract painting is called expressionistic (with a lower case "e" and the "ic" at the end). Often these styles are linked with a particular historical period, set of ideas, and particular artistic movement. So Jackson Pollock is called an Abstract Expressionist. Because a particular style has very specific cultural meanings it is important to be sensitive to differences in technique. Roy Lichtenstein's paintings are not pointillist, despite his uses of dots, because they are not aligned with the original proponents of Pointillism. Lichtenstein used Ben-Day dots: they are evenly-spaced and create flat areas of color. These types of dots were used to color comic strips and are intended to combine the "high" art of painting with the "low" art of comics - to comment on culture and its unreality. Pointillism employs dots that are spaced in a way to create variation in color and depth - it was an attempt to paint images that were closer to the way we really see color - an attempt to get closer to reality. They both use dots but the meaning is opposite.
These are all ways of beginning to define a work of art, to narrow it down. "Imagine you are an art critic whose mission is to compare the meanings you find in a wide range of individual artworks. How would you proceed with your task? One way to begin is to examine the materials each artist selected in making an object, image video, or event. The decision to cast a sculpture in bronze, for instance, inevitably effects its meaning; the work becomes something different than if it had been cast in gold or plastic or chocolate, even if everything else about the artwork remained the same. Next, you might examine how the materials in each artwork have become an arrangement of shapes, colors, textures, and lines. These, in turn, are organized into various patterns and compositional structures. In your interpretation, you would comment on how salient features of the form contribute to the overall meaning of the finished artwork. [But in the end] the meaning of most artworks... is not exhausted by a discussion of materials, techniques, and form. Most interpretations also include a discussion of the ideas and feelings the artwork engenders."

History

Art predates history; sculptures, cave paintings, rock paintings, and petroglyphs from the Upper Paleolithic starting roughly 40,000 years ago have been found, but the precise meaning of such art is often disputed because so little is known about the cultures that produced them. The oldest art objects in the world: a series of tiny, drilled snail shells about 75,000yrs old, were discovered in a South African cave.
The great traditions in art have a foundation in the art of one of the great ancient civilizations: Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, India, China, Ancient Greece, Rome, or Arabia (ancient Yemen and Oman). Each of these centers of early civilization developed a unique and characteristic style in their art. Because of the size and duration these civilizations, more of their art works have survived and more of their influence has been transmitted to other cultures and later times. They have also provided the first records of how artists worked. For example, this period of Greek art saw a veneration of the human physical form and the development of equivalent skills to show musculature, poise, beauty and anatomically correct proportions
In Byzantine and Gothic art of the Western Middle Ages, art focused on the expression of Biblical and not material truths, and emphasized methods which would show the higher unseen glory of a heavenly world, such as the use of gold in paintings, or glass in mosaics or windows, which also presented figures in idealized, patterned (flat) forms. In the east, Islamic art's rejection of iconography led to emphasis on geometric patterns, Islamic calligraphy, and architecture. Further east, religion dominated artistic styles and forms too. India and Tibet saw emphasis on painted sculptures and dance with religious painting borrowing many conventions from sculpture and tending to bright contrasting colors with emphasis on outlines. China saw many art forms flourish, jade carving, bronzework, pottery (including the stunning terracotta army of Emperor Qin), poetry, calligraphy, music, painting, drama, fiction, etc. Chinese styles vary greatly from era to era and are traditionally named after the ruling dynasty. So, for example, Tang Dynasty paintings are monochromatic and sparse, emphasizing idealized landscapes, but Ming Dynasty paintings are busy, colorful, and focus on telling stories via setting and composition. Japan names its styles after imperial dynasties too, and also saw much interplay between the styles of calligraphy and painting. Woodblock printing became important in Japan after the 17th century.
The western Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century saw artistic depictions of physical and rational certainties of the clockwork universe, as well as politically revolutionary visions of a post-monarchist world, such as Blake’s portrayal of Newton as a divine geometer, or David’s propagandistic paintings. This led to Romantic rejections of this in favor of pictures of the emotional side and individuality of humans, exemplified in the novels of Goethe. The late 19th century then saw a host of artistic movements, such as academic art, symbolism, impressionism and fauvism among others.
By the 20th century these pictures were falling apart, shattered not only by new discoveries of relativity by Einstein and of unseen psychology by Freud, but also by unprecedented technological development accelerated by the implosion of civilisation in two world wars. The history of twentieth century art is a narrative of endless possibilities and the search for new standards, each being torn down in succession by the next. Thus the parameters of Impressionism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, etc cannot be maintained very much beyond the time of their invention. Increasing global interaction during this time saw an equivalent influence of other cultures into Western art, such as Pablo Picasso being influenced by African sculpture. Japanese woodblock prints (which had themselves been influenced by Western Renaissance draftsmanship) had an immense influence on Impressionism and subsequent development. Later, African sculptures were taken up by Picasso and to some extent by Matisse. Similarly, the west has had huge impacts on Eastern art in 19th and 20th century, with originally western ideas like Communism and Post-Modernism exerting powerful influence on artistic styles.
Modernism, the idealistic search for truth, gave way in the latter half of the 20th century to a realization of its unattainability. Relativity was accepted as an unavoidable truth, which led to the period of contemporary art and postmodern criticism, where cultures of the world and of history are seen as changing forms, which can be appreciated and drawn from only with irony. Furthermore the separation of cultures is increasingly blurred and some argue it is now more appropriate to think in terms of a global culture, rather than regional cultures.

Characteristics

Art tends to facilitate intuitive rather than rational understanding, and is usually consciously created with this intention. Fine art intentionally serves no other purpose. As a result of this impetus, works of art are elusive, refractive to attempts at classification, because they can be appreciated in more than one way, and are often susceptible to many different interpretations. In the case of Gericault's Raft of the Medusa, special knowledge concerning the shipwreck that the painting depicts is not a prerequisite to appreciating it, but allows the appreciation of Gericault's political intentions in the piece. Even art that superficially depicts a mundane event or object, may invite reflection upon elevated themes.
Traditionally, the highest achievements of art demonstrate a high level of ability or fluency within a medium. This characteristic might be considered a point of contention, since many modern artists (most notably, conceptual artists) do not themselves create the works they conceive, or do not even create the work in a conventional, demonstrative sense. Art has a transformative capacity: confers particularly appealing or aesthetically satisfying structures or forms upon an original set of unrelated, passive constituents.

Skill and craft

Somewhat in relation to the above, the word art is also used to apply judgments of value, as in such expressions like "that meal was a work of art" (the cook is an artist), or "the art of deception," (the highly attained level of skill of the deceiver is praised). It is this use of the word as a measure of high quality and high value that gives the term its flavor of subjectivity.
Making judgments of value requires a basis for criticism. At the simplest level, a way to determine whether the impact of the object on the senses meets the criteria to be considered art, is whether it is perceived to be attractive or repulsive. Though perception is always colored by experience, and is necessarily subjective, it is commonly taken that - that which is not aesthetically satisfying in some fashion cannot be art. However, "good" art is not always or even regularly aesthetically appealing to a majority of viewers. In other words, an artist's prime motivation need not be the pursuit of the aesthetic. Also, art often depicts terrible images made for social, moral, or thought-provoking reasons. For example, Francisco Goya's painting depicting the Spanish shootings of 3rd of May 1808, is a graphic depiction of a firing squad executing several pleading civilians. Yet at the same time, the horrific imagery demonstrates Goya's keen artistic ability in composition and execution and produces fitting social and political outrage. Thus, the debate continues as to what mode of aesthetic satisfaction, if any, is required to define 'art'.
The assumption of new values or the rebellion against accepted notions of what is aesthetically superior need not occur concurrently with a complete abandonment of the pursuit of that which is aesthetically appealing. Indeed, the reverse is often true, that in the revision of what is popularly conceived of as being aesthetically appealing, allows for a re-invigoration of aesthetic sensibility, and a new appreciation for the standards of art itself. Countless schools have proposed their own ways to define quality, yet they all seem to agree in at least one point: once their aesthetic choices are accepted, the value of the work of art is determined by its capacity to transcend the limits of its chosen medium in order to strike some universal chord by the rarity of the skill of the artist or in its accurate reflection in what is termed the zeitgeist.

Communication

Art is often intended to appeal and connect with human emotion. It can arouse aesthetic or moral feelings, and can be understood as a way of communicating these feelings. Artists express something so that their audience is aroused to some extent, but they do not have to do so consciously. Art explores what is commonly termed as the human condition that is essentially what it is to be human. Effective art often brings about some new insight concerning the human condition either singly or en-mass, which is not necessarily always positive, or necessarily widens the boundaries of collective human ability. The degree of skill that the artist has, will affect their ability to trigger an emotional response and thereby provide new insights, the ability to manipulate them at will shows exemplary skill and determination.

See also

Notes

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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