Art, The Individual and Society
A Term Paper
13 October 2011
Art has been around for thousands of years. In fact, different types of craft can be traced back to prehistoric times when Neanderthal men started painting on the walls of the cave. Throughout the centuries, art has evolved to several forms among which are sculpting, painting, and even poetry. Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music, literature, film, photography, sculpture, and paintings. The meaning of art is explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics, whereas disciplines such as anthropology, sociology and psychology analyze its relationship with humans and generations.
Traditionally, the term art was used to refer to any skill or mastery. This conception changed during the Romantic period, when art came to be seen as "a special faculty of the human mind to be classified with religion and science". Generally, art is made with the intention of stimulating thoughts and emotions (Gombrich, 2005).
One form of art is painting. Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface. The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is also used outside of art as a common trade among craftsmen and builders. Paintings may have for their support such surfaces as walls, paper, canvas, wood, glass, lacquer, clay, copper or concrete, and may incorporate multiple other materials including sand, clay, paper, gold leaf as well as objects.
Painting is a mode of expression and the forms are numerous. Drawing, composition or abstraction and other aesthetics may serve to manifest the expressive and conceptual intention of the practitioner. Paintings can be naturalistic and representational (as in a still life or landscape painting), photographic, abstract, be loaded with narrative content, symbolism, emotion or be political in nature.
The history of painting reaches back in time to artifacts from pre-historic humans, and spans all cultures. It represents a continuous, though periodically disrupted tradition from Antiquity. Across cultures, and spanning continents and millennia, the history of painting is an ongoing river of creativity that continues into the 21st century. Until the early 20th century it relied primarily on representational, religious and classical motifs, after which time more purely abstract and conceptual approaches gained favor (Cole, 1991).
Developments in Eastern painting historically parallel those in Western painting, in general, a few centuries earlier. African art, Islamic art, Indian art, Chinese art, and Japanese art each had significant influence on Western art, and, eventually, vice-versa.
Initially serving utilitarian purpose, followed by imperial, private, civic, and religious patronage, Eastern and Western painting later found audiences in the aristocracy and the middle class. From the Modern era, the Middle Ages through the Renaissance painters worked for the church and a wealthy aristocracy. Beginning with the Baroque era, artists received private commissions from a more educated and prosperous middle class. Finally in the west the idea of "art for art's sake" began to find expression in the work of the Romantic painters like Francisco de Goya, John Constable, and J.M.W. Turner. During the 19th century the rise of the commercial art gallery provided patronage in the 20th Century.
The oldest known paintings are at the Grotte Chauvet in France, claimed by some historians to be about 32,000 years old. They are engraved and painted using red ochre and...
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