Significance of Art

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the word “Art?” When I think about art, the Mona Lisa is the first thing that comes to my head. If paintings are the first thing that comes to your head when you think of art, you are not wrong! Painting is a small little piece of the enormous significance of “Art.” Art is defined as the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance, according to Dictionary.com. From that, we realize how small a simple “painting” is compared to the complex meaning of Art. So what else is considered a piece of Art?

Art began in the Stone Age, where a simple hunting tool could be considered a piece of art. The name of such art in the Art time line is called Prehistoric Art. The first objects made by man appear in Southern Africa and were generally worked stone, wood or bone tools. To understand those tools as pieces of art, we have to think like a cave man and imagine that they could only work with raw materials that they find in the natural world; very little. Despite such difficulty, they had created tools that wouldn’t be considered beautiful in today’s Art World, but that where useful for their hunting and indispensable for their survival.

Later on, they evolved their techniques and developed ways to express themselves with paintings inside the caves. Such thing is called today as Rock Art. Many examples of rock painting were found in South Africa, in the Drakensberg Mountains. According to Stockstad, around 600 sites have been found in caves and rock shelters, and approximately 35,000 individual images catalogued (408). These paintings were thought to represent the cave men hunting animals, and sometimes blood was used to give color to the picture. Interesting about the hunting naturalistic scenes is that no one will ever know if these paintings were from something that had happened or if it was the representation of the situation that was going to happen in the future. That’s said because these early cultures were thought to be very religious and sometimes those representations could be a way they found to pray for their gods.

As cited in Stockstad, the first sculpture representations appeared in the Nok culture as early as 500 BC (407). These sculptures may represent normal people dressing for special occasions or maybe people of high status in the Nok culture. Those special occasions were generally religious ceremonies, and rituals. Art was definitely different in the ancient world than it is in today’s world.

Unlike the Art from those early times, today’s Art has a sense of exposure, it can be seen. Artists now paint with the purpose of sharing their feeling. Art museums are like the cave’s walls in the early times. Today sense of Art is that is has to be something beautiful, which completely opposes the first concept of Art. The first art tools made of bones and rocks were far way from something beautiful. The images painted in the cave’s walls were also far from a beautiful painting. That was the major change between the art from the Ancient World and the Modern World Art, in my opinion. Modern Art has value and Ancient Art does too. But the value of Modern Art is money, it can be bought. In the early times there was no money; art was more spiritual than it is today.

Art is such a complex topic to write about and very interesting as well. It is unbelievable how much can be written about just one small piece of Art’s significance. Art can be seen buy people in many different ways, and sometimes one individual might consider an object a piece of art and another individual consider it just an object. It is hard to believe that in the early times, people would paint, build a sculpture, and create a hunting tool thinking “this is a nice piece of Art”. I believe Art was more spontaneous than it is today.