History of Art

Art and Society

According to Croce the work of an art is an activity of the artist’s consciousness. Thus concept raises a problem concerning the artist’s relations with his audience. Artist communicates his experience to others and in order to do this he must have means of communication. Art is generally the emotion of the artist and when the emotion is given expression it becomes art. But what we generally expect in the work of art is the personal element- we expect the artist to have, if not distinguished mind but a distinguished sensibility. We expect him to reveal something to us that is original and unique and private vision of the world. On this basis Tolstoy defines art as “to invoke in oneself a feeling one has experienced and having evoked it in oneself, them by the means of movement, line, and color, sound or forms expressed in words so to transmit that feeling that other experience the same feeling” this is the activity of art. Therefore according to this statement art is a human activity that consciously hand over to other by one man affected by certain feelings and emotions.

The significance is that art must be a perfect means of communication as in the words of Wordsworth that poetry is a man speaking to man is a perfect theory of Tolstoy. Now in the modern conception the definition of art is altogether changed that is simply the expression of feelings. Tolstoy added the word communication or a transmitting effect. Herbert Read does not agree with the ideology given by Tolstoy. He comments that artist is himself a man of society and he has to convey his feelings naturally to the other. But a burden of transmitting the idea to the commons will ultimately desolate the existence of the pieces of Dante, Milton, Shakespeare and Goethe except the mythological legends and folk songs. Realizing this fact he amended the theory of collaboration in this way that the function of arts is not to transmit feeling so that others may experience the same feeling that is only the function of the crudest form of art i.e. programmer music, melodrama and the like. The real function of art is to express feeling and transmit understanding. The Greeks previously recognized this notion and thus Aristotle rightly observed that the purpose of drama was to purge out emotions a clue of peace and tranquility. He was of the opinion that realizing beauty can purify our emotions and beauty is defined as a moral goodness really a simple truth.

There is undoubtedly an unchallenging inter-relationship between artist and community. The artist is a member of society where he from his infancy to his adulthood is brought up and experiences his surroundings. But the individual character of the artist work depends on his will to form that signifies the personality of the artist. Therefore the value of art will be based on his individuality, time and circumstances. The artist’s relation with his audience will be an integral part of his aesthetic experience and that is why the artist should do his best to know well (truth). But one doubt arises whether audience are so elevated to justify the definition of Spinoza that Art is the labor of the artist in which he invites the community to participate.

According to Radha Kamal Mukherjee each distinctive society has its own characteristic art form. Society influences the arts of its people. Social principles leave their impression upon art form. As social order changes the art form also changes. The Altamira paintings show the influence of then prevalent myths and rites and rituals of the society. Everywhere the social customs, religion and faith of a group have influenced the art of the country as we see in Egypt’s pyramids.
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