The use of words and images in Contemporary Art.
Originally, the word art meant “skill” or “ability”—as in the skill of a craftsman. So we talk about the “art of gardening”. But “art” also describes the many ways in which people try to express their ideas and feelings by creating something. The most important arts are architecture, sculpture, painting, literature, and music. The many others include such activities as pottery, furniture, tapestry, metalwork, photography, filmmaking, theater, and graphic arts such as printing, stenciling, etching, and engraving. In each case, the artist tries to express a general truth about life. Artists have been trying to do this since the days of the early Stone Age cave painters.
Art is one of humanity’s oldest inventions. It existed long before a single farm was planted, before the first villages were built. Art was already thousands of years old when writing appeared; in fact, the letters of the first alphabets were pictures. People were probably shaping objects and scratching out images even as they turned their grunts and cries into the first systematic spoken languages.
People are still making art; they have never stopped. Just about every society, from the most primitive to the most advanced, has created works of art. No wonder that the sum of all this creation is called “the world of art”. Art is a world in itself, a world as round and full and changeable as the world we live in, and like the Earth, a whole of many distinct parts. Removing a wedge from the whole and studying it is like touring a country or visiting an era in the past. One wedge describes the ideals of the ancient Greeks. Another defines the interests of the French in the middle Ages. Still another demonstrates the ideas that shaped the Renaissance in Italy. Another reflects the traditions that had meaning in Japan in the 1700’s, or China in the 900’s, or India in the 1600’s. But seen as a whole, the world of art reveals a...
References: Bernard Smith, Concerning Contemporary Art: The Power Lectures, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.
Richard Hertz, Theories of Contemporary Art, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, c1985.
Nicolas De Oliveira, Installation Art, London: Thames and Hudson, 1996.
J. Eugene Reed, The Gallery of Contemporary Art: An Illustrated Review of the Recent Art Productions of All
Nations, Philadelphia: Gebbie, 1884-1885.
Bruce D. Kurtz, Contemporary Art, 1965-1990, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, c1992.
Klaus Honnef, Contemporary Art, Koln: B. Taschan, c1992.
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