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Humanities LibreTexts

1: Introduction

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    What is art?: For this course, a work of art is the visual expression of an idea or experience, formed with skill, through the use of a medium.


    What is a medium?: A medium is a material, along with its accompanying technique. (The plural is media.) When a medium is used in such a way that the object or performance contributes to our understanding or enjoyment of life, we experience the final product as art.

    How do we evaluate art? There are two ways to evaluate art. One approach is to analytically critique the work using the recognized art elements as well as the principles of art (aka principles of design). The art elements are 1. Line 2. Value 3. Color 4. Shape 5. Form 6. Space and 7. Texture. The principles of art are more numerous and include Perspective, Balance, Emphasis, Composition, Repetition, Variety, Unity, Contrast, Movement, Light, Pattern, Proportion, Size and Scale, and Surface.

    A second part of art evaluation is to study the context of the work. In this case we use the Ws of detective work. What was created? Who created the work? When was it created? Why was it created? When we have a better understanding of the times and circumstances the artist experienced, the better we can appreciate the art. Was the work created during a time of war? Was it created as a form of protest? Was the art created as propaganda, possibly supporting the ruler or political party of the time? These are all important questions to ask as we evaluate artwork. The evolution of painting, sculpture, and architecture is the story of artists who experienced life in their time, often facing hardships we can only imagine. These are often brave individuals devoted to their craft and following their creative calling. By pushing art forward, they have broadened the definition of fine art in our time.

    1: Introduction is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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