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Art is a thing created by an individual using a rare, natural and creative talent. Some people say that it is impossible to define the meaning of art. They could be wrong as if it couldn’t be defined, then the word ‘art’ would have no value in our language. Since we use it all the time, it must have some meaning to it. Some people say art can be anything and everything. However, if everything is seen as art, then the word ‘art’ is in danger of losing its meaning because it no longer distinguishes certain things from others. According to the Theory of Knowledge, there are three possible criteria of what is classified as an art; the creative intentions of the artist, the quality of the work and the response of spectators. Beyond this, everyone’s opinion about what art is compiled of differs from each other.
An artist is basically a creator of his art. He also is said to create the meaning of his art. He sees an object with his eyes and reveals the beauty in everyday objects. Besides that, he also tells a particular story through his work of art, whether they are his emotions, experiences or maybe his opinions. However, we should truly take into account that it is also possible that the artist refuse to create meanings within his art. As he is the creator of his art, he is the one who decides what he wants in his work. It is likely that he, in the first place, constructed his artwork without wanting to engage any meaning or substance in it and also, possibly, as an act of spontaneity.
In a closer scrutiny, many people believe that an art has to have a meaning. Basically, it starts with the artist’s intention(s), whether he wants to convey a message to his viewers, express his thoughts and feelings through his art in many ways, such as through paintings on a piece of canvas, music with a pleasing melody, or even a well-crafted rhyme. For instance, take a simple sketch of beautiful butterflies on a notebook. As we, the spectators respond by scrutinizing the artist’s intention(s) based on the art, it will somehow evoke various emotions in our minds such as freedom, beauty or perhaps also, fragility and gracefulness. That is the meaning of an art.
Another constructive example would be Vincent van Gogh, who did not consider himself an Impressionist as his artworks were all symbolic and has deep meanings in them. Basically, his art exploited nature to reflect his inner vision and emotional state through lines, colours, spatial composition, distortion and exaggeration. These methods were all manipulated to create a meaning in his art. Similarly to Van Gogh, another famous artist Picasso is another good example. For many years people criticized Picasso’s work of art, described it as ‘devilish’ and -well – insane. The main reason was that his art simply looked rather unnatural in its ways. However, they are still universally known around the world just because of the meanings implied within his artworks as it provokes thoughts and feelings.
On the contrary, what if a piece of work of an artist does not have a meaning within it? Is it still considered as an art? What if the artist refuses to provoke emotions, feelings and thoughts of the audience? Does it still make his piece of work an art? What if the artist wants his work to be meaningless? What if he has no message to convey to his viewers? Maybe that piece of work is constructed with the intention to spend the spare time that he has? As we view from a different perspective, it can also be considered that as long as artists have a creative intention and the urge to produce a piece of art, their work is definitely believed as an art through qualities such as the excellence of the work and the various materials, methods and technical skills used to produce the art regardless of whether or not their work has a meaning.
Through my own experience, a few years ago, I drew a simple sketch of butterflies during free period in my notebook as I wanted to just draw whatever that comes to my mind at that moment. To be honest, I never thought of conveying any messages such as ‘independence’, ‘beauty’, ‘fragility’ and so on to my ‘audience’. I had never considered how the butterflies carried deep, fundamental meaning and how they could be represented as symbolisms. As I was the creator of my ‘art’, to me, they were just butterflies.
All I wanted them to be were butterflies, without any meanings at all. However, it is still considered as an art because my intention while drawing those butterflies was to loosen up my mind, and besides that, the quality of the drawing was fairly beautiful and attractive as it reveals the beauty in everyday objects. Lastly, I also gained response from ‘spectators’ with their opinions about my drawing. To emphasize on my point, again, according to the Theory of Knowledge, things are considered as ‘art’ if they fulfil the three criteria stated above. Thus, my work was without a doubt an art, even though it has no meanings within it.
In conclusion, it shows that there isn’t a definite answer of ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the question given above. Through the study of Theory of Knowledge, we are encouraged to see things in a bigger perspective and to examine every angle of a situation. In this matter, from one point of view, art has to have meaning in much the same way as words written on paper have meaning considering how an artist intends to convey a message and to communicate emotions without words. On the other hand, art also does not have to be about anything to be good. In fact, the more people tried to scrutinize and understand the meaning of the artwork, the less interesting that work becomes as they are easily deciphered by the audience.
It is also said that “the greatest art takes a lifetime to understand; the slightest takes a moment”. While more people tried to make their own meaning from a piece of art, it does not mean that it is the initial meaning that the artist intended. Sometimes, many tried hard to figure out the meaning of an art but it turns out that the artist’s intention does not want his art to have any meaning at all. I believe it is open to interpretation whether does something have to have a meaning or if it does not, is it still considered as an art?