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Purpose of Art

what is art?

So, what is the purpose of art? To answer this philosophical question, we first need to ask the conceptual question, “What is art?” We cannot talk about the importance of art if what we understand about art is abstract and confusing.

the history of art

Eurocentric history

The majority of what has been documented and written about art history is focused on the European tale of art. Unfortunately, not a lot of other cultures’ artworks have been documented as in-depth as Western art.

ancient greek and roman art

The function of art during this time was to depict the rise of the two empires (Greek and Roman) and the belief structures that underpinned these two civilizations.

the middle ages

The influence of pagan stylized motifs was incorporated into figurative Christian art to form the only art form that survived the fall of the Roman Empire: manuscript illustration.

the renaissance

Moving away from the stylized otherworldly art that preceded the Renaissance, artists during the Renaissance were interested in depicting a realistic sense of three-dimensional space.

baroque art

These art periods came after the hunt for perfection and turned away from the smooth, ideal bodies of the Renaissance to emphasize the drama of human experience and religious scenes even more.


Their paintings aimed to convey the values of order, clarity, reason, and scientific study. That being said, after the Revolution in France, it was clear that these works often served a political purpose.


Romantic artists were not that interested in only depicting the realistic socio-political situations of the time. Rather, art became the means to express intense human emotion, individuality, and imagination experienced during these events.

the pre-raphalites

This movement started in Britain while the country was going through rapid industrial change. As wealth was growing because of this speedy industrial growth, new patrons interested in art started supporting artists.


For the first time in art history, the painting of peasants, workers, beggars, prostitutes, and so on were done with no deeper meaning or political motivation, but simply because it was the reality the painters saw every day.


The Impressionists were, yet again, a group that desired to express themselves outside the constraints of academic art and the Paris Salon. 


Post-impressionists reacted against the idea that artists should simply paint the scene they perceived. They wanted to do more. These artists all started as Impressionists but were struggling to make a name for themselves.


In reaction to the materialism and rationalism of the modern world, Symbolist artists started creating art that focused on one’s imagination and emotions. They drew inspiration from the occult, psychology, and mystical ideas.


Expressionists were interested in expressing intense emotion through their artwork. Unlike the Impressionists, Expressionist artists were not interested in showing their interpretation of the world.

abstract art

Abstract art, even more than any other art form that preceded it, aimed to move completely away from depicting anything resembling real life. This is the only characteristic of this vast and long-lasting art movement.


The Dada art movement started as a protest against the civilization that had, at the point, erupted the world into war. It was a way for artists to explore the absurd and completely nonsensical.