Art is an ever-expanding field of human activity involving visual creativity, technical skill, aesthetic beauty, personal emotion, or other emotional qualities to express personal creative ability, beauty, or emotional belief. Art has been called the language of the soul and it is the only discipline that enjoys a consistent level of acceptance by the public. The history of art can be traced back in human history to the earliest of civilizations such as Egypt, China, Greece, Rome, and Mesopotamia. Although some cultures have declined into oblivion, such as the Aztecs in Mexico and the Native American Indians, newer societies have emerged and expanded their territories extending from Europe to the Pacific Ocean. Today, art forms span a wide range of disciplines and can be used for a variety of purposes.


The history of art is intimately connected with philosophy, aesthetics, and religion. In particular, the philosophy of aesthetics developed out of the teachings of Thomas Jefferson who argued that art is nothing more than the product of human talent and emotion applied with sufficient complexity and attention to form. According to Jefferson’s philosophy, there are no absolute standards of beauty because “there is always a liberate and uncontrolled emotion which makes its own.”

In the beginning, the definition of art was not given as clear as it is today, owing to the fact that there were very few definitions at all. According to the most common definition, art can be defined as being the “conscious imitation of a thing existing in nature.” However, this definition is very broad and has become extremely vague over time as the field of art has developed with the support of different philosophies. In recent years, one of the most influential philosophical schools on the definition of art was Priscilla Vollinger-Griffith. According to this school, art is defined as “the process of putting into visible form various ideas expressed by the hands.”

There are many other definitions of art that can be found throughout history. In general, however, the most common definitions associated with artworks are as follows: Art is seen as an artistic experience (e.g., the enjoyment acquired through viewing artworks), an object of personal significance (e.g., the creation of art), or as an expression of an idea (e.g., the artistic creations of Michelangelo). It is also commonly understood that art and artworks have a social significance. Within modern society, art and artwork are usually seen as a means to express an individual’s creativity or to provide entertainment. Many people believe that, because art affects our physical and psychological experiences, it should be controlled by society in order to prevent harmful influences from taking place.

Despite the wide array of definitions for art, no single definition of art has ever been sufficiently persuasive to completely eliminate the endless interpretability of the term. Many people believe that because art affects our physical and psychological experiences, it should be controlled by society in order to prevent harmful influences from taking place. Others believe that art should be completely unregulated, permitting any and all creativity that may come into existence. Still, other people believe that art should never have existed at all, and that the definition of art should be a blank page.

For many philosophers and aestheticians, the definition of art is ultimately determined by aesthetics, which is a method of judging works of art by their own appearance and comparing that appearance to other works of similar form and content. Another important factor in the determination of aesthetics is proportion. Artistic compositions must generally follow a specific scale that gives the viewer a visually pleasing view of the work. This includes everything from the size of the artworks to the proportion of the elements used.

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