Why Do We Make Art?

After years and years of drawing, painting, and photographing I finally came across this question in a deep debate after visiting the Chicago Institute of Art (mentioned in previous post).  Why do we make art?  Seems like a simple question, right?  Though, after actually thinking about it for awhile, I was stumped; there is no one answer that makes more sense than another.

Back in the day, it is thought that  cavemen used art for communication (doesn’t that sound poetic?  art to communicate?).  Art is also used for remembrance, a to keep a record of what a person looks like (photographs, portraits).  For some people art is beauty, maybe a way to make someone smile.  Or for decoration, a way of brightening a room.  Maybe art is meant to make us think or to make a statement.  Maybe it’s the artist’s way of finding a new and better reality.  But how can you pick just one?

There is a quote that I read once by Edgar Degas, he said, “Art is not what you see, but what you can make others see.”  And this makes you think, What can I make others see?

It’s weird though; art is kind of like a cancer that inhibits you and spreads throughout your body until it controls you.  Then you have no power.   There is this force inside you that must convey it’s messages, emotions, images.  It eats at you until the art is finished and perfect, and even then it keeps you practicing and practicing in hopes that you will one day be as good at drawing/painting/ or whatever else as your hero is.  This in itself is pretty beautiful.  So maybe that’s why we make art, because we’d go crazy if we didn’t.

Sorry for getting all dramatic there.

Even after writing this post, I’m not sure what my goal is when I draw, paint, or photograph, or any other form of art for that matter is.  It seems to change depending on my mood, I guess.  If I’m feeling elated, usually my creation will try and be aesthetically pleasing above all things, but if I’m in an upset or indignant mood, I will try to create something that gives understanding to a cause or gives the viewer something to think about.  Art is a crazy and abstract thing.  To some it’s beauty and to others it’s words given a canvas.    Edward Hopper said, “If I could say it all in words, I would have no reason to paint.” so maybe I need to stop writing here and get creating instead, because, maybe Mr. Hopper is right; art is the words that you can’t say, or don’t know how to, so you visualize them instead, and there are those lucky few who can do that; the ones who make us think by showing us,  and not telling us.

But, you see, the question, “What is art?” may be forever unanswerable question like, What is the meaning of life? or What if there were no hypothetical situations?  There are many different definitions for it but whatever those are, they are frivolous and inaccurate because art is so inexplainable that it can’t be kept in the square box that is a definition.

I should probably go since I promised to stop writing a paragraph and a half ago, so goodbye and happy drawing/painting/or whatever else (bonus points to whomever can come up with a brilliant word for that)!

I got a quote or two from this website below.  I will most likely be posting a few of these too because I love them so much.



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