What is Art?

In my last blog post I wrote how art inspires artists. Let us shine a light on what it is or can be. Between Aristotle and Andy Warhol, and outside of that perimeter, there are thousands of explanations and examples. Many of them speak of how it comes about, few say what they think it is. How the creative
process works for them is the most often answer to the question.

We can all agree that we mean anything that was created in the field of music, painting, writing, sculpting, anything that is done skillfully as a human endeavour. The term art stems from Latin “ars”, meaning art, skill or craft. This gives the subject of art a very wide berth. All the wonderful expressions of philosophical thought that describe how this magical occurrence of art comes about are highly subjective. Albert Einstein suggested to look for art in science and for science in art. I think he is right.

There is a bit of both in either one of them. Each artist has to find his/her own way to the passion that lies underneath for creating a work of art. It depends also, I think, on the purpose an artist has. Is it to be a work of beauty with a message, and what is the message, what is the emotion is meant to convey. Or is it what Berthold Brecht thinks: “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” That means that even on a battlefield there are aesthetics to be found, worth presenting.

Mozart presents this process to be almost magical: “When I am… completely myself, entirely alone, … or during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on such occasion that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how they come I know not, nor can I force them. …. Nor do I hear in my imagination
the parts successively, but I hear them ‘gleich alles zusammen’ (at the same time all together).
It is a conceptual process he is describing. This is not a foreign occurrence among artists, as often the full concept of the work to be done appears before an artist even starts his work. All artist benefit from this, writers, sculptors, painters, composers, poets, every conceivable artist. It works like telepathy when
communication takes place between two individuals that are not within earshot. There are no single words, it is just a whole concept that is conveyed. It happens between people that have
very high affinity for each other. I guess that is why Mozart felt that: “Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together, go to making a genius. Love, love, love: that is
the soul of a genius.”

And love and passion are definitely a requirement for creating
art, or else it will not communicate.

And there we have it in a nutshell: Art is communication!

  • Sybille Forster-Rentmeister