Why is it impossible to define Art?

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16 May 2019

Why is it impossible to define Art?

ART. Why does such a short word mean so many different things for people? Usually when we hear the word “art”, our minds tend to automatically think of museums, the Joconde, the Sistine Chapel and complex artistic movements.

Agathe Guibé

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- So, what do you see?
- Hmm, well I see twelve sunflowers in a vase…
- Please,it is not just twelve sunflowers in a vase! It’s art!

ART. Why does such a short word mean so many different things for people?

Usually when we hear the word “art”, our minds tend to automatically think of museums, the Joconde, the Sistine Chapel and complex artistic movements. This thought process  leads us to believe that art is solely for intellectuals or is strictly linked to an artistic-focused community, and therefore one cannot be legitimately interested in art unless he or she has has a strong cultural background … or a Paris Museum Pass in our wallet!

Art, however, is for anyone who wants to experience it and is willing to stretch the limitations of their mind. More often than we realize, art can be found in places all around us;  a song, a dance, a beautiful dish of food, in nature and even in people. Of course, there is the traditional subdivision, also known as the Seven Arts, which refers to the architecture, the sculpture, the painting, the music, the literature, the performing, and film, but then how does one differentiate between the Sistine Chapel and an everyday house?

The truth of the matter is, the concept of art exists for thousands of years and is constantly evolving, shapes and forms together with our way of living and our learnings, from the first human cave paintings to the vertical forest of Milan designed by the studio Boeri. It is actually the definition of art that has been debated for decades. Still to this day, no one can agree on a singular and strict definition that allows us to decide if those twelve sunflowers in a vase are in fact art or not.  

However, many believe that art is anything that stirs emotions in you, which explains also why we are all different in our reaction when staring at a painting. Coming back to the twelve sunflowers painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1888, one person might think it is the most beautiful thing they have ever seen, the second person might hate it, and the third might not feel much of anything at all. That is why it is a tricky concept to define because everyone’s entitled to their own preferences and feelings when it comes to art. With this in mind, we could say that art cannot be defined as a category of things but rather a label placed on creations.

Like a never-ending story, art gives us the opportunity to tell stories, record history, and tap into our emotions in a way that few other things can. In Artupia, we believe that art is about your personal experience and the meaning you perceive from it.
Every artist has a unique story and a creative soul that they pour into their work! Starting from this statement, we are eager to give a chance to contemporary artists to showcase and sell their work on our website.

To conclude about Van Gogh’s painting, it is part of series of seven paintings representing sunflowers at their different stages of life cycle: germination, growth, bloom. While many are able to see a personification of the flowers, what do you see?

At Artupia we believe all artists should be allowed to showcase their work to the world, and that all art lovers should be allowed to buy original, handmade art at a fair price. Art shouldn't be restricted to galleries, and buying artwork shouldn’t be restricted to prints.

Note: The painting is currently exposed in the Vincent Van Gogh’s museum in Amsterdam.

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