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  Category: Articles » Arts & Entertainment » Arts » Article

Art Defined

By Robert E. Bear

"Art" means different things to various people. It's been an enigma! Since the age of twelve I wanted to be an "artist". Over the years I had become involved with numerous "art" endeavors: drawings, sculptures, paintings in various media, architectural design, photography, writing, and ceramics. I've even been fortunate to have "art" jobs: art and photography teacher, freelance artist, supervisor of a graphic art department, museum exhibits designer and builder, and art director. In all those experiences and even through educational training beyond the master's degree I could not find a comprehensive definition of..."art". Afterall, I was an "artist"; but, how could I make claim to this intreguing group with out really knowing what "art" was?

In the early 1990's, I participated in the Improving Visual Art Education Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, which was sponsored by the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Getty Center for the Arts. The conference basically centered around the concept of "Discipline Based Art Education". In this realm arts education is believed to have four basic tenants that should be covered in pedagogy and help give credence to spending constrainted budgets on having "arts" in the public school curriculum. These four areas are: history, theory/criticism, aesthetics, and production. It was from this conference that I came up with the design for the MIA PATCH Lesson Plan for the Arts since there was no lesson plan format that I new of that really fit the "arts" education arena. One of the speakers, and I forget her name, was an aesthetics professor from the University of Minnesota. She came the closest to a definition of art that I could agree with, except, for her, art had to have a concrete artifact, an art "object", something tangible to be reviewed through time. But, as many "artists" know, sometimes an artistic creation is designed to be fugitive, non-tangible through time, it must disappear to fulfill its aesthetic intent.

While out jogging one afternoon at the conference it came to me, an epiphany; " There is a simple, comprehensive definition of "art", it's an acronym for itself".

The Aesthetic Rendering of Thought.

In order for Art to exist, the following three (3) criteria must be met. First of all, there must be some sensory manifestation (Rendering), fugitive or permanent, that is based upon a creative, intellectual process (Thought) with the intention of a beautiful or pleasurable (Aesthetic or Anti-aesthetic) action, or reaction, in one or more of the senses and/or psyche.

Encircled within this definition are more than the traditional concepts of "art": painting, sculpture, ceramics, writing, architecture, drama, music, dance, and photography. It's now easier to understand why cooking can be included as an "art" and more than just a craft. Please do not confuse "craft" with "art". Art objects are original creations, one of a kind. Craft, on the other hand, is the fastidious copying, reproduction, of an art object.
About the Author
Robert is a professional educator and national award winning artist. He has been recognized in Who's Who In America, Whos' Who In American Education, and National Honor Society Outstanding American Teachers. Some of his artwork and other writings can be found at

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