Art is an expression of human consciousness and aims at developing emotional and mental faculties through beauty. There's two ways to explain art. The first one is to point out what art should be about. The second one is to describe what modern society has made out of art.
1. What true art should be about
The task of art is to elevate feelings and to strengthen the power of visualisation (imagination). Art develops the artist’s imagination which should be occupied with the problems of reality and not personal emotional whimsies. The value of anything fictional in art lies in the fact that it is concerned with the realities of being human. Great art and literature let us learn something about ourselves in a way that ennobles, inspires, elevates, illuminates us. Art should show us ideals after which we should strife.
True art ennobles.
True art develops the artist and elevates the viewer.
True art deals with reality.
True art is an expression of timeless ideas.
True art is about beauty.
Aesthetics is the teaching about criteria of beauty.
Beauty & Aesthetics
Art is an attempt to find and express beauty. Beauty has an ennobling effect on feelings. The concept of aesthetics is the exploration of what is beautiful and how to express it through craftsmanship (artistry). Aesthetics is a teaching about beauty. Beauty is about form in perfect harmony of proportions.
Nature provides the artist with the natural forms of beauty that he or she should observe and try to express in a physical medium such as canvas (painting), stone, metal, ceramic (sculpture), language (literature), sound (music) etc. Beautiful is anything that is in harmony with the natural order, that which is integrated, unified in perfect forms and proportions.
BEAUTY = forms in natural harmony of proportions.
HARMONY = unity, integrity of forms in nature.
FORM = matter's mode of existing, what reality is made of.
IN PURSUIT OF IDEAL FORMS
A manifested form in nature is always flawed and imperfect to some extent. A true artist tries to discover the underlying perfect form that is common to all its flawed manifestations in nature. True art doesn't aim to be realistic. It aims to be idealistic.
Art is about truth, but not in a way that it just seeks to imitate the forms of nature for no purpose. On the contrary, true art is a pursuit of perfection which nature rarely achieves in its concrete manifestations. True art is about capturing the perfect forms of beauty that underlie the various forms of nature, in an attempt to surpass nature. True artists are never finished with their work, because they know that the goal is impossible to achieve in an imperfect physical medium. At all times only an approximation to perfection is possible.
Art is about form, and form is how reality exists. True art acknowledges objective reality.
Formless art is about personal whimsies and randomness which are based on subjective emotionality.
True art is about idealism, not realism.
True art is about perfection of forms.
True art is about objective criteria of beauty.
OBJECTIVE CRITERIA FOR ART
Art is about harmony of form (beauty), and not just about a realistic reproduction of a thing. Harmony pertains to laws of nature and can be expressed mathematically or geometrically. Aesthetic principles can help achieve the most splendid technical results. That's why there are objective criteria for beauty in true art which every serious artist needs to learn and master. Without objectivity anything is allowed and subjective arbitrariness leads to the degeneration of art.
2. What we have made out of art
Modern art has debased beauty in favour of emotional expression and personal statement. What constitutes contemporary art is its lack of appreciation for the form. Everything became an expression of subjective chaos with no rules or guidelines. All modern art is abstract (formless). A mere play of colour and random shapes is considered a virtue, while the necessary skill set to really draw and paint realistic forms is not required.
Modern artists don't bother investing time to learn aesthetic standards and hone their techniques. Everything is considered art as long as personal statements are made. There’s no interest in objectivity. Instead, subjective arbitrariness and emotional chaos became the prevalent modes for artistic expression, neglecting pursuits of beauty, objective standards and technical artistry.
Art has clearly degenerated since the end of 19th century.
Modern art has debased art to formlessness (abstraction) and personal statements.
Modern art is about subjectivity, chaos, emotionality, randomness.
Aesthetic standards and artistic skill sets are not important in modern art.
Art is both an expression of timeless beauty of forms as well as a manifestation of prevalent views and conceptions of certain epochs in human history. The way we develop as society expresses itself, among other things, in the way we treat art. In recent times the conception of art clearly degenerated and it pales in comparison to the timeless masterpieces of previous centuries. Modern art needs a restoration to a new glory of objective, artistic standards.
The appreciation for objective reality should again become an ideal worth striving for. As we develop over generations our views change and hopefully a better conception of art will also change in a not so distant future.