Work of art

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A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an aesthetic physical item or artistic creation. Except for "work of art", which may be used of any work regarded as art in its widest sense, including works from literature and music, these terms apply principally to tangible, portable forms of visual art:

Contents

Used more broadly, the term is less commonly applied to:

This article is concerned with the terms and concept as used in and applied to the visual arts, although other fields such as aural-music and written word-literature have similar issues and philosophies. The term objet d'art is reserved to describe works of art that are not paintings, prints, drawings or large or medium-sized sculptures, or architecture (e.g. household goods, figurines, etc., some purely aesthetic, some also practical). The term oeuvre is used to describe the complete body of work completed by an artist throughout a career. [1]

Definition

A work of art in the visual arts is a physical two- or three- dimensional object that is professionally determined or otherwise considered to fulfill a primarily independent aesthetic function. A singular art object is often seen in the context of a larger art movement or artistic era, such as: a genre, aesthetic convention, culture, or regional-national distinction. [2] It can also be seen as an item within an artist's "body of work" or oeuvre . The term is commonly used by: museum and cultural heritage curators, the interested public, the art patron-private art collector community, and art galleries. [3]

Physical objects that document immaterial or conceptual art works, but do not conform to artistic conventions can be redefined and reclassified as art objects. Some Dada and Neo-Dada conceptual and readymade works have received later inclusion. Also, some architectural renderings and models of unbuilt projects, such as by Vitruvius, Leonardo da Vinci, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Frank Gehry, are other examples.

The products of environmental design, depending on intention and execution, can be "works of art" and include: land art, site-specific art, architecture, gardens, landscape architecture, installation art, rock art, and megalithic monuments.

Legal definitions of "work of art" are used in copyright law; see Visual arts § United States of America copyright definition of visual art .

Theories

Marcel Duchamp criticized the idea that the work of art should be a unique product of an artist's labour, representational of their technical skill or artistic caprice.[ citation needed ] Theorists have argued that objects and people do not have a constant meaning, but their meanings are fashioned by humans in the context of their culture, as they have the ability to make things mean or signify something. [4]

Artist Michael Craig-Martin, creator of An Oak Tree , said of his work – "It's not a symbol. I have changed the physical substance of the glass of water into that of an oak tree. I didn't change its appearance. The actual oak tree is physically present, but in the form of a glass of water." [5]

Distinctions

Some art theorists and writers have long made a distinction between the physical qualities of an art object and its identity-status as an artwork. [6] For example, a painting by Rembrandt has a physical existence as an "oil painting on canvas" that is separate from its identity as a masterpiece "work of art" or the artist's magnum opus. [7] Many works of art are initially denied "museum quality" or artistic merit, and later become accepted and valued in museum and private collections. Works by the Impressionists and non-representational abstract artists are examples. Some, such as the "Readymades" of Marcel Duchamp including his infamous urinal Fountain , are later reproduced as museum quality replicas.

Research suggests that presenting an artwork in a museum context can affect the perception of it. [8]

There is an indefinite distinction, for current or historical aesthetic items: between "fine art" objects made by "artists"; and folk art, craft-work, or "applied art" objects made by "first, second, or third-world" designers, artisans and craftspeople. Contemporary and archeological indigenous art, industrial design items in limited or mass production, and places created by environmental designers and cultural landscapes, are some examples. The term has been consistently available for debate, reconsideration, and redefinition.

See also

Related Research Articles

Art Creative work to evoke emotional response

Art is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts (artworks), expressing the author's imaginative, conceptual ideas, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power. Other activities related to the production of works of art include the criticism of art, the study of the history of art, and the aesthetic dissemination of art.

Artist person who creates, practises and/or demonstrates any art

An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only. The term is often used in the entertainment business, especially in a business context, for musicians and other performers. "Artiste" is a variant used in English only in this context; this use has become rare. Use of the term to describe writers, for example, is valid, but less common, and mostly restricted to contexts like criticism.

Minimalism movements in various forms of art and design

In visual arts, music, and other mediums, minimalism is an art movement that began in post–World War II Western art, most strongly with American visual arts in the 1960s and early 1970s. Prominent artists associated with minimalism include Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, Anne Truitt, and Frank Stella. The movement is often interpreted as a reaction against abstract expressionism and modernism; it anticipated contemporary postminimal art practices, which extend or reflect on minimalism's original objectives.

Marcel Duchamp French painter and sculptor

Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp was a French-American painter, sculptor, chess player, and writer whose work is associated with Cubism, Dada, and conceptual art. He was careful about his use of the term Dada and was not directly associated with Dada groups. Duchamp is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the 20th century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture. Duchamp has had an immense impact on twentieth-century and twenty first-century art, and he had a seminal influence on the development of conceptual art. By World War I, he had rejected the work of many of his fellow artists as "retinal" art, intended only to please the eye. Instead, Duchamp wanted to use art to serve the mind.

Fine art Art developed primarily for aesthetics

In European academic traditions, fine art is art developed primarily for aesthetics or beauty, distinguishing it from decorative art or applied art, which also has to serve some practical function, such as pottery or most metalwork. In the aesthetic theories developed in the Italian Renaissance, the highest art was that which allowed the full expression and display of the artist's imagination, unrestricted by any of the practical considerations involved in, say, making and decorating a teapot. It was also considered important that making the artwork did not involve dividing the work between different individuals with specialized skills, as might be necessary with a piece of furniture, for example. Even within the fine arts, there was a hierarchy of genres based on the amount of creative imagination required, with history painting placed higher than still life.

Found object art created from undisguised, but often modified, objects or products that are not normally considered art

Found object is a loan translation from the French objet trouvé, describing art created from undisguised, but often modified, objects or products that are not normally considered materials from which art is made, often because they already have a non-art function. Pablo Picasso first publicly utilized the idea when he pasted a printed image of chair caning onto his painting titled Still Life with Chair Caning (1912). Marcel Duchamp is thought to have perfected the concept several years later when he made a series of ready-mades, consisting of completely unaltered everyday objects selected by Duchamp and designated as art. The most famous example is Fountain (1917), a standard urinal purchased from a hardware store and displayed on a pedestal, resting on its side. In its strictest sense the term "ready-made" is applied exclusively to works produced by Marcel Duchamp, who borrowed the term from the clothing industry while living in New York, and especially to works dating from 1913 to 1921.

Conceptual art, also referred to as conceptualism, is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic, technical, and material concerns. Some works of conceptual art, sometimes called installations, may be constructed by anyone simply by following a set of written instructions. This method was fundamental to American artist Sol LeWitt's definition of conceptual art, one of the first to appear in print:

In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.

Postmodern art is a body of art movements that sought to contradict some aspects of modernism or some aspects that emerged or developed in its aftermath. In general, movements such as intermedia, installation art, conceptual art and multimedia, particularly involving video are described as postmodern.

Joseph Kosuth American conceptual artist

Joseph Kosuth, an American conceptual artist, lives in New York and London, after having resided in various cities in Europe, including Ghent and Rome.

Anti-art is a loosely used term applied to an array of concepts and attitudes that reject prior definitions of art and question art in general. Somewhat paradoxically, anti-art tends to conduct this questioning and rejection from the vantage point of art. The term is associated with the Dada movement and is generally accepted as attributable to Marcel Duchamp pre-World War I around 1914, when he began to use found objects as art. It was used to describe revolutionary forms of art. The term was used later by the Conceptual artists of the 1960s to describe the work of those who claimed to have retired altogether from the practice of art, from the production of works which could be sold.

<i>Fountain</i> (Duchamp) 1917 sculpture by Marcel Duchamp

Fountain is a readymade sculpture produced by Marcel Duchamp in 1917: a porcelain urinal signed "R.Mutt". In April 1917, an ordinary piece of plumbing chosen by Duchamp was submitted for an exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists, the inaugural exhibition by the Society to be staged at The Grand Central Palace in New York. In Duchamp's presentation, the urinal's orientation was altered from its usual positioning. Fountain was not rejected by the committee, since Society rules stated that all works would be accepted from artists who paid the fee, but the work was never placed in the show area. Following that removal, Fountain was photographed at Alfred Stieglitz's studio, and the photo published in The Blind Man. The original has been lost.

Classificatory disputes about art

Art historians and philosophers of art have long had classificatory disputes about art regarding whether a particular cultural form or piece of work should be classified as art. Disputes about what does and does not count as art continue to occur today.

Outline of the visual arts Overview of and topical guide to the visual arts

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the visual arts:

Readymades of Marcel Duchamp series of artworks by Marcel Duchamp

The readymades of Marcel Duchamp are ordinary manufactured objects that the artist selected and modified, as an antidote to what he called "retinal art". By simply choosing the object and repositioning or joining, titling and signing it, the Found object became art.

Conservator-restorer professional responsible for the preservation of artistic and cultural artifacts

A conservator-restorer is a professional responsible for the preservation of artistic and cultural artifacts, also known as cultural heritage. Conservators possess the expertise to preserve cultural heritage in a way that retains the integrity of the object, building or site, including its historical significance, context and aesthetic or visual aspects. This kind of preservation is done by analyzing and assessing the condition of cultural property, understanding processes and evidence of deterioration, planning collections care or site management strategies that prevent damage, carrying out conservation treatments, and conducting research. A conservator's job is to ensure that the objects in a museum's collection are kept in the best possible condition, as well as to serve the museum's mission to bring art before the public.

In the visual arts, late modernism encompasses the overall production of most recent art made between the aftermath of World War II and the early years of the 21st century. The terminology often points to similarities between late modernism and post-modernism although there are differences. The predominant term for art produced since the 1950s is contemporary art. Not all art labelled as contemporary art is modernist or post-modern, and the broader term encompasses both artists who continue to work in modern and late modernist traditions, as well as artists who reject modernism for post-modernism or other reasons. Arthur Danto argues explicitly in After the End of Art that contemporaneity was the broader term, and that postmodern objects represent a subsector of the contemporary movement which replaced modernity and modernism, while other notable critics: Hilton Kramer, Robert C. Morgan, Kirk Varnedoe, Jean-François Lyotard and others have argued that postmodern objects are at best relative to modernist works.

Art history The academic study of objects of art in their historical development

Art history is the study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts; that is genre, design, format, and style. The study includes painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, furniture, and other decorative objects.

The arts Human expression, usually influenced by culture

The arts refers to the theory and physical expression of creativity found in human cultures and societies. Major constituents of the arts include visual arts, literature, and performing arts.

Visual arts Art forms that create works that are primarily visual in nature

The visual arts are art forms such as painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, photography, video, filmmaking, design, crafts, and architecture. Many artistic disciplines such as performing arts, conceptual art, textile arts also involve aspects of visual arts as well as arts of other types. Also included within the visual arts are the applied arts such as industrial design, graphic design, fashion design, interior design and decorative art.

A 'theory' of art is intended to contrast with a 'definition' of art. Traditionally, definitions are composed of necessary and sufficient conditions and a single counterexample overthrows such a definition. Theorizing about art, on the other hand, is analogous to a theory of a natural phenomenon like gravity. In fact, the intent behind a theory of art is to treat art as a natural phenomenon that should be investigated like any other. The question of whether one can speak of a theory of art without employing a concept of art is also discussed below.

References

  1. Oeuvre Merriam Webster Dictionary, Accessed April 2011
  2. Gell, Alfred (1998). Art and agency: an Anthropological Theory. Clarendon Press. p. 7. ISBN   0-19-828014-9 . Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  3. Macdonald, Sharon (2006). A Companion to Museum Studies. Blackwell companions in cultural studies. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 52. ISBN   1-4051-0839-8 . Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  4. Hall, S (ed.) 1997, Cultural Representations and Signifying Practice, Open University Press, London, 1997.
  5. "There's No Need to be Afraid of the Present", The Independent, 25 Jun 2001
  6. "FTC Wins $2.3 Million Judgment Against Gallery Owner In Phony Art Scam" (Press release). Federal Trade Commission. August 11, 1995. Archived from the original on August 4, 2009. Retrieved October 29, 2008.
  7. "Rembrandt Research Project - Home". rembrandtresearchproject.org.
  8. Susanne Grüner; Eva Specker & Helmut Leder (2019). "Effects of Context and Genuineness in the Experience of Art" (PDF). Empirical Studies of the Arts. 37 (2): 138–152. doi:10.1177/0276237418822896.

Further reading