Manx Voice | What is Art ?
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What is Art ?

The Literal meaning or description of ‘Art’ is a form to show or visualise an event or capture a moment in time. Is this really all Art Is? I don’t think so, it is so much more.

Since the dawn of time, Man (and Woman 😉 of course) has strived to use Art as a device to tell stories, explain feelings, and pictorialise events which have taken place in history, whether it be a war, a meteor shower or just a tale about their own life.

Art has played such a dramatic role in the history of civilisation that, it is truly difficult to define, but with your help, I would like to give it a try. We must first begin with a time line of historical events and how Art came into being. This will help us to see the bigger picture so to speak.

Early Man and Woman used ‘Art’ as a means of communication first and later as a form of pictorial documentation of their lives. Some of the more famous of these are known to us today, whether we realise it or not – think Egypt and hieroglyphics or Cave drawings by the Aborigines’ in Australia or the famous Maori Carvings or the American Indian Totem poles. I could go on as there are many examples to choose from, but you get my meaning.

After ‘Art’ was used in the basic make up of our Language it was then incorporated into our most important life element, the concept we call ‘Religion’. Everyone has heard of the ‘Old Masters’ but you may or may not know exactly what this phrase means, but you are at least able to associate it with ‘Art’. Now there are some who will tell you that, their religion was the first to use Art as a form of worship to their God or deity. I cannot confirm nor do I really care who was the first group to use Art as a form of worship. The fact is it has been used primarily as a way for Man to get his head around the fact that, this higher power cannot be seen on a daily basis by us mere mortals and it is not a ‘I should have gone to Specsavers’ moment. These old Master like Caravaggio, El Greco, Rembrandt and countless others, who are too numerous to mention, have used ‘Art’ as a way of celebration to their God and as a tool for the Church, to try humanise and explain matters to the ‘Common Man’. Some might have and I’m sure did find this insulting i.e.: Well fella, some of us are just not intelligent enough to understand the concept of God without having a Pictogram to help us get it.

Portrait of Pope Pius V - El Greco, 1541-1614

Christ in the Storm on Lake Galilea - Rembrandt van Rijn, 1606-1669

Sacrificing Isaak - Michelangelo Caravaggio, 1571-1610

This now brings us to the more modern use for ‘Art’ – I speak of course of ‘Art Therapy’ my pet subject. Yes, Art is being used more and more a form of therapy. The use of Art has and continues to prove useful for us all to heal ourselves emotionally and in other ways. The most commonly used of the ‘Art Therapies’ is of course Colour Therapy. In some quarters it is being hailed, almost like a wonder drug, but the reality is…the peoples in the Far East have been using this form of therapy for centuries. It is just now being more widely introduced here in the western world. There are many applications for ‘Art’ as a form of therapeutic heeling, especially amongst returning War veterans.


Ask yourself have you ever heard of ‘Colour therapy’? Before you answer, “No, What is this guy on about?”, think again. The phrases like “Oh I’m feel BLUE“, or “The RED mist came down with his anger“, or what about “WHITE light therapy used to counter the effects of SAD syndrome (Seasonal Affective Disorder)” commonly known as “The Winter Blues“. On a side note, it’s funny that we say winter BLUES; why not say Winter Maroon or Turquoise?

Next use in today’s world is: Art Investment. If you speak to an Artist he or she will look at you with a sense of disdain, which can only be compared to the look a wife gives to a husband who has just announced news of an affair. However, if you ask a businessman or a member of the public who have lost money in a certain Bank collapse, then the answer would or could be expected to be a massively different one. As Tom Cruise so eloquently said in his movie called Gerry Maguire ‘SHOW ME THE MONEY”. In today’s world Art is and continues to be associated with the Rich and Famous usually, as it is only their rather large pockets who can accommodate the purchase of the more sought after pieces of Artwork.

So in conclusion, have we answered the original question – WHAT IS ART? The answer is the I’m not sure as there is not just one definitive answer to this question. Art means different things to each person, what I have tried to get across to you is the message to stop and think, don’t just blindly agree with your peers about what a piece of Art means. Make your own mind up about what emotions the piece evokes in you and choose Art which ‘You feel ‘means something to you. Look at the piece, try putting yourself in the place of the Artist who created the piece and make your own judgement.

Bottom line is…Art is like Death – It is personal, you alone must take part and it is final!

So till next time, this is Roberto saying BLOG OUT…

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