The Many Forms of Art

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Throughout the cultural history of man, objects have been created to entertain, record, confront, enrich, clarify, communicate, reveal, to order and disorder, with or without a purpose. Yet the definition of what is art is obscure, we are able to recognise for ourselves but not express concisely what art is. Art has ‘a complicated network of overlapping series of similarities’ (Law, 2003) however there is not one feature that all art has in common.

The classification of Art does not fit into the classic logic argument where to be defined as art the object must have a stated characteristic, as in the manner of classifying a dog, computer, house or boat. A dog is a dog because it has some but not all of the characteristics of A, B, C, D, E, F, or G, A)a dog is a mammal, B)a dog is in the species canis familiaris, C)a dog has 4 legs, D)a dog has 2 eyes, E)a dog has skin, F)a dog barks, G)a dog has a fur or hair covering of some type, whereby a basenji does not bark, but is a mammal, in the species canis familiaris, has 4 legs, 2 eyes, skin and a hair covering so is therefore a dog. Similarly to be in the category of boat, some but not all of the following characteristics need to be met, the object has the ability to float on a body of water, has a means of propulsion, (motor, sails, oars), is constructed, is a vehicle, a boat may have many kinds, yacht, canoe, ocean liner, toy sailboat, but all kinds are classifiable into a category, boat. The logic rule is an A is a B because it has C, D, E, F; and is equally logically applicable to a dog, computer, house or boat.

Art has many kinds without being able to classify the groups into one generalized category of ‘Art’, this inability to classify the category, becomes one of ...

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...a subjective experience and becomes - art is art because I believe it to be art.

Within a classroom setting I would use a stimulus activity of going on an excursion to the state art gallery, local art gallery, or walk in the community to public art sites. In a gallery setting, I would seek to have the students be still and observe their own choice of work, and record their feelings, then comment about what the artist was saying to them through the work. Additionally and if the excursion was unachievable, I would show art on the interactive whiteboard with discussion and journalled responses to chosen pieces, exploring –

What does that make you think of?

How does that make you feel?

Have you seen anything like that before?

The benefit of the slide show is that the rules of the art gallery do not have to be followed and we can discuss the work freely.

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