7 Key Purposes of Art


Art is a very subjective topic, and one can debate what it means. Whether you’re using a quill, paintbrush, Nikon camera or a computer, creating something that can be considered art takes time and thought. It can be a way of self-expression, or it can capture a specific moment in history or social ideas and concepts. It can also be a form of healing, or even be used as a tool for therapy. It can be about beauty, or it can be a political statement. Regardless of what type of art you create, there are seven key purposes of art that are important to know and understand.

#1. To evoke in himself (by sight or sound) a feeling which he has already experienced, and then by movements, lines, colors, sounds, or forms transmitted to others so that they also experience it – this is the activity of art. It is this that makes it possible for a man, in the presence of another work of art, to enter into a relationship with him who produces it, and with all those who simultaneously or previously received the same artistic impression.

#2. To grasp the world, not merely the physical world which science does, but the human world of society and spiritual experience – in other words, to “behold” it with an imaginative eye. Art does this by making us feel a new emotion or understanding an idea that we would not have felt before seeing it. This is why a piece of art can be so powerful, and why it is so important to our culture.

#3. To make us laugh, cry, feel fear, desire or admire, pity or respect, and many other feelings and emotions, in addition to joy and love. It is this function that allows art to be seen as something sacred, and that gives it the power to change the lives of its appreciators.

#4. To provide a source of enjoyment and pleasure by displaying beauty or creating a mood, which is usually achieved through colour, line, form, movement and rhythm. It is this that enables art to entertain us, and it is also why some of the best music and movies are considered works of art.

#5. To convey ideas and thoughts – this can be done in any medium, from poetry to painting and sculpture to architecture. It may be a record of the beauty of nature, or it can be an exploration of the formal qualities of the medium – such as the hardness of stone or the vibrancy of a colour. It can also be an attempt to communicate a message – such as religious faith, or the values of an ancient civilization.

This is a very broad function and, for example, modern art has been defined by such diverse things as splatter paintings and found objects. This is because it tries to challenge traditional definitions of what can be considered art. Nevertheless, some of these artistic ideas are not always successful, and often end up as fads or fantasies. Aesthetic interests can be corrupted by dubious investment practices and social kudos, and this can lead to the production of “art” that is inauthentic and unoriginal.