Artifact #2 What is art for?


  • Explore a brief history of Western Art.
  • Consider the origins of art.
  • Examine multiple perspectives for evaluating art.

Original Post:

The term paleoanthropsychobiological was coined by Ellen Dissanayake. When breaking down the word it literally means the study of mental processes and social interactions of ancient people. Paleo means ancient, anthrop is human, psych is mind, bi is life and log is study. I view it to be defined as ancient thoughts of the mind by a person who is studying living things. I relate this with art as humans use history, mind, life and study to create something beautiful. I think Ellen uses this word to describe that art is all around us and it is the make up of who we are as humans.

Dissanayake means by the phrase “making special” that anything in our world is valued as important. I think she is arguing that in life we enjoying making things special and that art is no different. I feel that she is explaining that if we believe in art and view it as special, then the art will be special. Art is created in many different ways through each person’s creative, perspectives and emotions. Expressing art is a very special thing and that people need to view art through this light of “making it special.” In order to see the beauty in it, it needs to stand out and be appreciated for what it is.

One theory of art is the renaissance, which occurred during the medieval times. The time frame for this was around the 14th to 16th century. This theory indicates that art is used as service of religion.  People’s views of art are different from the art of the artists during this time period. “It meant having a correct understanding of the principles involved, rather as we understand the art.” (Dissanayake p. 16) Different trends occurring during the Renaissance time that moved people away from strict religion and towards freedom of life.

Another theory of art is modernism, which refers to art as ideology. This theory was around the 18- 19th century. Art in modernism is focused on the personal experience of human beings and the value of human nature. “Art had become if not a religion, an ideology whose principles were articulated by and for the few who had leisure and education enough to acquire them.” ( Dissanayake p. 18) People’s view towards art is changing but more opened views bring more people to see art in a new look.

The last theory of art is postmodernism, which refers to as interpretation. This theory was around the mid 20th century. This theory challenges the “modernist ideology” that art can be the intrinsic of everybody and viewed anywhere in our everyday life. This theory supports the idea that art is universal and anybody is able to understand art, even though his or her meaning may be a little different. “Art is not universal, but conceptually constructed by individuals whose perceptions are necessarily limited and parochial.” (Dissanayake p. 19)


Reflection:  Everyone can define their own way of understanding art and there is no correct way to judge it. Art is unique in its own way because what someone may think is trash, someone else may think it is a beautiful piece of art. Just like that quote beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone sees things differently and look at things in a different perspective. “Artists, just like everybody else, do not see the world in any singularly privileged or objectively truthful way…” (Dissanayake p. 5) I enjoy art because of the history and culture behind it all. Everyone has a way of looking at things through a different perspective and personal experience behind it. I learned that people’s view and understanding of art also changed from time to time. I believe one of the main reasons for the expanding of art was that people’s needs and wants were changing all the time

Ellen mentioned in her article that, “art is a normal and necessary behavior of human beings that like talking, experience, playing, working, socializing, learning, loving and nurturing should be encouraged and developed in everyone” (Dissanayake p. 10). I added this picture to this assignment because I thought it showed that it demonstrated talking, experience,playing, socializing and loving all in the same picture. The picture shows a bright beautiful setting that it eye catching. I believe that anything anyone draws is art because it is true talent that I do not have. Art has a way to show many different messages and display many meanings through just a painting. There are many different meanings that can be portrayed through art work, which makes it so unique!

Future Goals: I want to learn more about art and the history behind it! A goal that I have for myself is to have a greater appreciation for art  because it truly is a talent. Often times I see a painting and I don’t think it is beautiful or see the appreciation behind it, but I need to remind myself that it truly is art and others find beauty in it. I need to remember what art is for and the influence it has.

Work Cited:

Dissanayake, E. (1991). What is art for? In K. C. Caroll (Ed.). Keynote adresses 1991 (NAEA Convention), (pp.15-26). Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.

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