Work of art  

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"‘What is art?’ ‘Art is the sum or totality of works of art.’ ‘What is a work of art?’ ‘A work of art is a poem, a painting, a piece of music, a sculpture, a novel. ...’ ‘What is a poem? a painting? a piece of music? a sculpture? a novel? ...’ ‘A poem is ..., a painting is ..., a piece of music is ..., a sculpture is ..., a novel is ...’ It would be natural to assume that, if only we could fill in the gaps in the last line of this dialogue, we should have an answer to one of the most elusive of the traditional problems of human culture: the nature of art." -- Richard Wollheim, Art and Its Objects, p.1


"A work of art is a thing intended for regard-as-a-work-of-art: regard in any of the ways works of art existing prior to it have been correctly regarded." --"Defining Art Historically", 1979, Jerrold Levinson

A pair of shoes by Vincent van Gogh, Paris, 1886. Martin Heidegger mentions this particular work in The Origin of the Work of Art as an example of a painting that reveals (aletheia) a whole world.
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A pair of shoes by Vincent van Gogh, Paris, 1886. Martin Heidegger mentions this particular work in The Origin of the Work of Art as an example of a painting that reveals (aletheia) a whole world.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art is an aesthetic physical item or artistic creation. Apart from "work of art", which may be used of any work regarded as art in its widest sense, including works from literature and music, these terms apply principally to tangible, portable forms of visual art:

Used more broadly, the term is less commonly applied to:

This article is concerned with the terms and concept as used in and applied to the visual arts, although other fields such as aural-music and written word-literature have similar issues and philosophies. The terms objet d′art or art object are is reserved to describe works of art that are not paintings, prints, drawings or large or medium-sized sculptures, or architecture (e.g. household goods, figurines, etc., some purely aesthetic, some also practical). The term oeuvre is used to describe the complete body of work completed by an artist throughout a career.

Contents

Definition

A work of art in the visual arts is a physical two- or three- dimensional object that is professionally determined or other wise considered to fulfill a primarily independent aesthetic function. A singular art object is often seen in the context of a larger art movement or artistic era, such as: a genre, aesthetic convention, culture, or regional-national distinction. It can also be seen as an item within an artist's "body of work" or oeuvre. The term is commonly used by: museum and cultural heritage curators, the interested public, the art patron-private art collector community, and art galleries.

Physical objects that document immaterial or conceptual art works, but do not conform to artistic conventions can be redefined and reclassified as art objects. Some Dada and Neo-Dada conceptual and readymade works have received later inclusion. Also, some architectural renderings and models of unbuilt projects, such as by Vitruvius, Leonardo da Vinci, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Frank Gehry, are other examples.

The products of environmental design, depending on intention and execution, can be "works of art" and include: land art, site-specific art, architecture, gardens, landscape architecture, installation art, rock art, and megalithic monuments.

Theories

Marcel Duchamp critiqued the idea that the work of art should be a unique product of an artist's labour, representational of their technical skill and/or artistic caprice. Theorists have argued that objects and people do not have a constant meaning, but their meanings are fashioned by humans in the context of their culture, as they have the ability to make things mean or signify something.

Distinctions

nature of art

Some art theorists and writers have long made a distinction between the physical qualities of an art object and its identity-status as an artwork. For example, a painting by Rembrandt has a physical existence as an "oil painting on canvas" that is separate from its identity as a masterpiece "work of art" or the artist's magnum opus. Many works of art are initially denied "museum quality" or artistic merit, and later become accepted and valued in museum and private collections. Works by the Impressionists and non-representational abstract artists are examples. Some, such as the "Readymades" of Marcel Duchamp including his infamous 'urinal "Fountain'", are later reproduced as "museum quality replicas".

There is an indefinite distinction, for current or historical aesthetic items: between "fine art" objects made by "artists"; and folk art, craft-work, or "applied art" objects made by "first, second, or third-world" designers, artisans and craftspeople. Contemporary and archeological indigenous art, industrial design items in limited or mass production, and places created by environmental designers and cultural landscapes, are some examples. The term has been consistently available for debate, reconsideration, and redefinition.

Further reading


See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Work of art" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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