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How Art Asks New Questions

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Art is all about expression and understanding. It grips us because we know that there is something to learn from the form, the colors and the texture. We are drawn to it (no pun intended) and regardless of artistic ability, we will all create something during our lives, whether its a drawing at school or a beautiful design for your home. 

But art also creates an opportunity to ask questions. Art can be political – and often is. It can also begin to unravel issues that cannot be put into words easily but can be felt in the very human aspect of most artworks. The geniuses we see in galleries are there because they are provocative, not because they are particularly good at mixing paint or sketching a life-like scene. Although those skills certainly help! 

So what is art made up of and how does it transcend being a collection of objects and colors and become a work in its own right. 

Materials

Artists use a wide range of materials and many modern artists don’t limit themselves to a single medium. While artist may have really meant painter for years, now art can be made digitally, from scrap, from parts that are designed to be elsewhere – from anything. Make it new might have sprung from the Modernist movement but it continues to drive art movements forward so that even graffiti doesn’t have to be scrawled on a wall anymore. 

When looking at a work of art, it’s important to question the purpose of each element. For example, a spring clip might be a basic mechanism for holding two pieces together but an artist will have thought carefully about the placement and the aesthetic it creates. There is nothing accidental in art and often looking at the smaller details is where the magic happens. 

The Human Element

We use art to tell stories and to present new ideas but ultimately, most art comes down to the fundamental question: what does it mean to be human? And this is why we create art all the time. We are constantly searching for answers and whether you turn to science to unravel the mysteries of the universe or you are more inclined to sit and contemplate a poem, you are always looking for something. 

The human element, the curation and presentation of an artwork, is what makes it so alluring and what makes it such a good vehicle for these questions. Art makes us think about meaning. Sometimes, it can feel as though artists are cynically making money by displaying junk but if they have made you think, they have probably forced you to ask a question. Even if that question is, ‘does this gallery have a shop?’

Art is Expressive

Even when you may not understand the context of art or the purpose of a particular piece, you will probably have an emotional reaction to it. This is really what makes art art and not something else. When you have an emotional response, the work is doing its job.

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