Purpose of Art

What is the purpose of art?

Does it have a purpose?
Does it need a purpose?
Does it depend on the type of art?

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30 thoughts on “Purpose of Art”

  1. I think art’s purpose depends on the type of art. Beautiful art exists to bring joy and beauty into our lives. Conceptual art exists to make you think. Some art is silly and goofy and just brings a smile to your face. Some art is meant to be lived with and enjoyed for a lifetime. Some art is ephemeral and points to the passing of time. It very much depends.

  2. Hi Alyson,
    When you’re creating art the purpose changes from painting
    to painting. Sometimes it’s just about colour, and to get
    something done, sometimes it’s for a show and has to fit
    a theme. Sometimes you’re just playing, and sometimes you’re
    on assignment and have to meet the client’s criteria. Great
    theme. I paint for the most part because I love painting,
    and I paint to earn a living. I read your super blog to learn more
    about how to do that. Thanks.

  3. Shana Kohnstamm

    A few years ago I met a young doctor/medical scientist. He told me “Sure I can help my patients live longer lives, but what’s the point if there isn’t beautiful art like yours in the world to enjoy.”
    I married him, of course.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      I agree, Rhomany. Artists always say they make art for themselves, but they’re never completely satisfied until they’ve shared it with others.

  4. I think the purpose of art depends on your point of view. As an artist, the purpose of my own work is exploratory. I explore colour and shape and space and through that I explore myself and the world. As a viewer, I see the purpose of art as being provocation. To provoke a response, whether emotional, visceral, positive, negative.

  5. I agree with all the points made thus far and would add that for me the best definition of the purpose of art is that it has no purpose…I journeyed to Bali and worked with the Magic Drawing Shaman and the mask makers and learned first hand what the famous Bali quote says, “We have no art, we do everything the best that we can.” And another from Thoreau that also fits this topic for me is, “…to affect the quality of the day is the highest of arts.”
    For me that is the most delightful ‘why I make art my life’ mantra.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      There are many cultures who don’t have the word Art in their vocabulary.

  6. great answers here.
    art to me does have a purpose, like nature it absolutely enhances my life and definitely contributes to my sense of well being. i connect to a piece thru it’s shear beauty or sense of nostalgia and and sometimes it provokes me to contemplate what i really know in life and more importantly what i don’t know! art also records our crazy history.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      You used the word “connect,” Kathryn. I think that’s key–like what I noted about communication above. Connect/Communicate

  7. I once asked a young priest in training a related question about how likenesses were allowed in Christian art…He gave me a book written by the then Pope- about art, a small pamphlet on the subject…The exemption for likenesses were three; education, veneration & decoration…I still use these three when I feel off track about what I am doing…

  8. Very interesting views here.. the purpose of my art is to express myself and then try to evolve as a person through the expressions.. but what do I do with all those paintings piling up around me? May be I will try to sell some of them, make some money that can be spent on those that are needy. That I feel will make my purpose more meaningful.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Padmaja: That sounds like a plan! Sounds like the purpose of your art is multi-layered.

  9. I do it because I want to create something beautiful, something I want to look at and appreciate and tell myself “I did that!”.
    Naturally I want others to appreciate it too, lots and lots of friends and family have paintings of mine, but when a complete stranger wants to buy my art, that feels like the ultimate validation.

  10. Art is little more than a series of organised coloured marks on any 2D surface that appears to be capable of being made by ant five-year-old but never was..so simple that any person could have but never did…

    1. Hi Alyson, Having tried all ‘regular’ art processes: Stone & Wood Sculpture/carving and Ceramics…I prefer and can now only manage 2D Art in Acrylics on Canvas…Then my Five-year old ‘mini-sprog’ aka one of the smaller grandsons is competent in 2D Art…my daughter would perhaps have apoplexy if she found him with me using sharp wood-chisels…

  11. I think the more important question that comes to my mind and never the less impossible for me to answer is, as an artist, why is art my passion? Why do I bother making marks on a paper? Why do I need to pursue and feed this fiery passion?

  12. The highest purpose is to have no purpose at all. This puts one in accord with nature, in her manner of operation. (John Cage)
    The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. (Aristotle)
    The purpose of art is the same as the purpose of life. Both are one, and both are a celebration of our connection to the cosmos. It is as impossible to create without life as it is to live without creating.
    (Burnell Yow!)

  13. Artists make art because they have to make art. It’s an expression of who they are and how they see the world. If the work strikes a chord in someone, then the expression becomes communication.

  14. yes, art can have purpose.
    but no, it does not necessarily need purpose.
    and of course, it absolutely depends on the type of art. just compare the renaissance painters to the later impressionists and you’ll understand.
    art to me is simply shapes and colours. it is not mechanically recording nature but rather expressing the inspired beauty in that corner of the world.

  15. To me, art can get us in touch with the sacred. It changes the way we see the world. There begins a sensitivity that develops. It can be an active meditation.
    I love this quote by Frederick Franck: “Never has it been more urgent to speak of seeing. Ever more gadgets, from cameras to computers, from art books to video tapes, conspire to take over our thinking, our feeling, our experiencing, our seeing. What really happens with seeing/drawing is that awareness and attention become contemplation. Seeing/drawing is a decipline of awareness, of unwavering attention to a world which is fully alive”.
    It has been proven that Art makes children ‘smarter’ in all the other subjects. In fact, I feel some of our politicians who run this world didn’t get enough of this visual thinking growing up. Therefore, we can quietly protest by teaching our children how to see.

  16. IMAGINE – no design on anything ( textiles, stationery, wallpapers, bags, books, etc. etc. etc.), no pictures on the wall, sacks for clothes, boxes for houses, no furniture – just floors, tin boxes for cars, GET THE PICTURE painter, illustrator, sculptor, designer, craftsman, photographer, ceramist, jewlery maker, clothing designer, architect, landscaper, seamstress, author, graphics, auto designers, interior designers, display artists, etc What is the purpose of art? again- Imagine none of the above!!

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