Art (Latin Ars artis "skill, craft, technical knowledge") is a human activity, the product of that activity or the idea we have of it, consisting in arranging them addressing various elements deliberately meaning, emotions and intellect.

The definitions of this concept varies widely according to the times and places, and none of them is universally accepted. Thus, for Marcel Mauss, "a work of art, by definition, is being recognized as such by a group. "Therefore, products and artistic practice, or rather collections of these objects may be classified differently in different cultures, the authors and institutions.

Since the late eighteenth century and until now, art products consist primarily of "fine arts" such as architecture, sculpture, painting, music, dance and poetry (and So the literature), which are added frequently film, printmaking, theater, photography, comics, television, or digital art. The classification of the arts is not universal except for the 7th art (cinema) which has been particularly successful, a unanimous classification seems impossible, or no interest.

In Europe, the conception of art as autonomous activity, as output by artists of the objects we find beautiful agrees after a Judgement of Taste, incentives for producers of meaning or form of knowledge and truth, date between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In modern art and contemporary art, we abandon the notion of beauty or timeless style to see in art a human creation, the production of something new with which a time is identified.

History of the concept of art: what is art?
At least since antiquity, philosophy questions the nature of art.

Plato in the Ion and Hippias Major and Aristotle in the Poetics wonder about art as beautiful. However, aesthetics may differ significantly from the ancient aesthetic post and the Greek word τέχνη (techne), which is the nearest equivalent of French art in ancient Greece refers to all activities subject to certain rules. It thus encompasses both knowledge, arts and crafts. The Greek Muses are not all related to the arts to be defined later and poetry, for example, is not a "techne".

The Roman civilization does not distinguish clearly the domain of art and knowledge of the trades that Cicero and Quintilian will have contributed their thoughts. Thus, in Galen, the term "art" means a set of processes used to produce a certain result:

"Ars is Systema præceptorum universalium, verorum, utilium, consentientium, ad unum finem eumdemque tendentium."

"Art is the universal system of lessons, true, useful, shared by all, tending towards a single end."

In this sense of the word, which prevailed until the late Middle Ages, art objects to both the science conceived as pure knowledge, application-independent, and the natural product without thinking. With the idea of production rule is added the consideration of the effort involved in this activity. When the word is used, it is usually an epithet attached to the precise form of words such as "liberal arts", "mechanical arts", "military art", etc.. And if it so happens that liberal arts are covered by the unqualified use of the word "ars", we are still far from the contemporary sense, astronomy was a "liberal art", while the spectacle of "theatrics" was a "mechanical arts".

Until the Renaissance, there is no precise difference between the artist and the craftsman: is called "artist" a craftsman whose production is of exceptional quality. The difference will start to become clearer that when artists begin to emancipate themselves from corporations to pledge allegiance to the academies and the noble order. Then the now familiar sense of the word "art" begins to emerge: not only are many techniques separate from, but again, after the discovery of the rules of perspective, the visual will take an important growing.

This is the Enlightenment that the idea of art date now commonly accepted. Starting from a reflection on the sense and taste, a design based on the idea of beauty finally settled. With Emmanuel Kant, the aesthetic acquires its sense of a theory of art which give the Romantic movement paradigmatic examples. The importance of observing rules then passes into the background while the artist's intention, which involves our senses and our emotions, becomes paramount.

But the twentieth century, through its practices and ideologies, calls into question everything that had been upheld in the previous century. He objects in particular the existence of an essence of art that would find itself through the ages and civilizations, and thus the dream of a universal definition. It also highlights the sometimes ambiguous relationship between "beauty" and "art", for example when the artwork is the nature of a frightening or repulsive.

Therefore, the European discourse on contemporary art is a risk of anachronism since, according to this discourse, art implies an intention that does not necessarily exist in other times or other places . Prehistoric Art by instance, refers to the artistic elements such as paintings or sculptures, but no text to specify whether these were intended for contemplation, ritual celebrations or other uses. In some cultures (eg Indian or Chinese), such texts exist, but it is unclear to what extent the concepts used, including those translated into French by the words "fair" or "beautiful" are recognizable to those used in the West. The introduction of an assumption of unconscious or involuntary art is one way around such difficulties.

We often give lists of more or less complete constituent domains of art, noting that following Wittgenstein called 'family resemblances' art becomes a set of practices and outcomes that share a number of features, although none of them is universal.

The classical arts, as proposed in the nineteenth century by Hegel in Aesthetics and philosophy of art, however, continues to serve as a reference: It shows that key arts are five in number: architecture, sculpture, painting literature, music. From them, by combination or by extension, we arrive at a more exhaustive list may include, for example dance, film (often called "seventh art"), comic books, opera, photography, etc...

Art History
The different conceptions of art and challenges to address it in its entirety affect the conceptions of history.

In the classic design, the history of art has been incorporated in the nineteenth century by adopting unquestioningly progressivism and the valuations of its time. In this context naturalist, which sees art as a constant in human, it describes the instances that reveal the "essence" of art through the ages.

The anthropology of art is such a social science that attempts to study the plastic and pictorial production of human societies 'traditional', "without writing" or "primitive."

But this assumption of autonomy and artistic phenomena intelligible in their development has been gradually abandoned in favor of a much more contextualist and social. As noted by Antoine Hennion, "The methodology of the sociology of art and the history of art are opposed to each other," the former tends to eliminate the latter tries instead thicken. In this context, the history of art can obviously be constructed by taking into account the evolution of the concept of art and is therefore constantly rebuilding.

Another difficulty is the fact that recount the evolution of the art requires to group together, most often by geographical areas and historical periods. But the relevance of such boundaries are always relative: when, for example, separate the Late Antiquity the Middle Ages? Must present the art of Ptolemaic Egypt alongside that of ancient Greece? Or, if one agrees to consider poetry as an art, or does it not present the poems of Leopold Sedar Senghor's side of African art?

Consequences of these differences, disputes about the classification of the arts are numerous in the history of art and aesthetics. Claude Roy sums up the concept of pluralism in art, which yet the religious dimension is always central and symbolic:

"The notion of art, whether negro art, art Cretan or impressionist art, is both vague, ineffable and irritating. Art is what keeps alive the dead idol as qu'idole. Art is thus an object continues to serve when it has outlived its usefulness ."

Read also Abstract Art


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