Lecture 9: What is Art?

Art: Expression of human creative skill & imagination –> for beauty or emotional power –>expresses important ideas/ feelings

History of Human Art 

  • Middle & Upper Palaeolithic Era: cave paintings, figurines, musical instruments
  • Middle Paleolithic : “grave goods”
  • Upper Palaeolithic: Ritual burials & anthropomorphic imagery (cave paintings)
  • Hand Stencils very popular worldwide (3/4 of which are left by women)

Theories of Art 

  • Art= imitation (of nature, human life & action)
  • Plato= skilled craft
  • Art as a lie (re-interpretation)
  • Expression- symbolic expression to add feeling & emphasis
  • Beauty & Form- emulate God’s work (Aquinas)
  • Ritual- ordinary objects now have meaning (transformed) in relation to a specially designated space = symbolic significance
  • Social Institution-for appreciation –> done on behalf of social institution
  • Semiotics: all art is symbolic b/c implies different status, pushes traditional definitions

Medium matters for sheer variety 

Michael’s “Me, Myself, Good” – animal put a handprint similar to what human’s have been doing for centuries



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