Philosophy

Why do people love art?Its importance

11 Mins read
why do people love art
why do people love art

I have always been eluded with why people love art, it has always been a big question for me, I just don’t understand why people would pour millions of dollars for paintings, carvings and some ancient statue just in the name of art.

I have gone to a few galleries and museums myself only to see paintings that are not so much attractive go for extreme prices and that people actually buy them. Its insane, I just can’t get it. That is why I went on a rampage trying to figure out why people love art so much, and the answers might just change my mindset on it.

The very first time I got puzzled on the love of art was when I saw a lecture on YouTube that Alain de Botton gave at the School Of Life, in the lecture he showcased the importance and significance of works of art in our daily lives. He goes ahead to say;

Art is our new religion and museums are our cathedrals, that is not me stating it, that is what Theodore Zeldin, a cultural historian said. That is a beautiful idea because religion is on the decline and culture is something that is eminently suited to filling its shoes.

Alain de Botton

Check out thevideo of the lecture to learn more on the way art is a way of therapy;

As a guy who was raised in a very Christian family, you can imagine how astounding this statement was to me. To be able to imagine art and culture as a replacement for a belief that has withstood the test of time is completely shuttering.

This led me to wonder why art is held in such high esteem especially by the most successful people in the society, furthermore, this led me to question why artists paint and do works of art in the first place.

What is art

Art is basically a form of creative process that showcases the human’s imaginative and technical skills by creating visual, auditory and performing artifacts to express the creator’s imagination, ideas and be appreciated for its beauty and capacity to instill emotional responses.

Art is wide and encompasses almost all aspects of the human life. The different types of art include animation, architecture, assemblage, calligraphy, , computer, religious, conceptual, artistic design, drawing, folk, graffiti, graphic, illuminated manuscript, illustration, mosaic, painting, poetry, dance, performance, photography, sculpture, stained glass, tapestry, and video.

Movies and music are also considered as art, that is why if you do a course on any of these you go to the School of arts and design.

A very recent depiction of art as anything that can instill an emotional response and be used for propaganda and as a form of starting a movement and revolution is the Netflix show ‘ La Casa de Papel (Money Heist)’.

The premise of the show is robberies that are performed with artistic and genius like precision with the intention of showcasing the beauty and genius of it all, on top of which, they making people have an emotional connection with the robberies themselves to the point where the whole world uses these incidents as the face of revolutions and standing up to the man.

The power of art is so profound that artists have gone to extreme ends to show it. Banksy, an anonymous street artist, once created a work that self-destructed the moment it was sold at auction—for a whopping $1.37 million. That is just insane. Its awesome that he decided to make a point about money and materialism through his work, but still, come on.

There are still some controversial arguments on what should really constitute as a work of art, an argument that started long time ago with the work of Marcel Duchamp, who anonymously submitted a porcelain urinal signed “R. Mutt 1917” as a “readymade” sculpture to the Society of Independent Artists, a group known to accept any artist who could come up with the fee‚ the unthinkable happened: the piece was denied, even though Duchamp himself was a cofounder and board member of the group.

marcel duchamp, fountain 1917, replica 1964
Fountain 1917, replica 1964 Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968 Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1999

Some even wondered if the piece was a hoax, but Dada journal The Blind Man defended the urinal as art because the artist chose it. The piece marked a shift from what Duchamp called “retinal,” or purely visual, art to a more conceptual mode of expression—sparking a dialogue that continues to this day about what actually constitutes a work of art. 

So art basically constitutes lots of aspects in our lives that can be skillfully and creatively turned into beautiful visuals, auditory or performing artifacts that instill emotional responses and are relate-able.

So why do people love art so much then;

To artistsTo viewers
To deliver a messageThe beauty and prettiness
The challengeReminds us what is important
Art crosses the language barrierEnergizes us for a cause
Reduce stressArt has immense emotional power
The importance of art

Alain de Botton, A British-Swiss Philosopher, has by far been the modern advocate for the importance of art, and in this short animated guide video, he dives into what purpose art serves in our lives;

Why artists love art so much

To deliver a message

Different artists make different works of art for various reasons, most of which are to put a point across and share their ideas and world point of views. This may be in form of philosophical stand points, religious beliefs and convictions, not to mention their opinions on how to lead your lives and what is important to them.

The message in a work of art is the most important aspect of any piece. It is the reason why people would want to buy the art in the first place.

The down side to trying to pass along a message is that the artists end up going to far, enough to enrage the audience and buyers as in the case of Banksy. Another example of a message being taken to far was in the case of a performance art where Marina Abramovic, a Serbian Performance artist, provided an audience with 72 objects to do what they “desired.” 

Along with scissors, Abramovic offered a range of tools: a rose, a feather, a whip, a scalpel, a gun, a bullet, a slice of chocolate cake. Over the course of the six-hour performance, the audience became more and more violent, with one drawing blood from her neck (“I still have the scars,” she has said) and another holding the gun to her head, igniting a fight even within the gallery (“I was ready to die,”she says).

The audience broke out in a fight over how far to take things, and the moment the performance ended, Abramovic recalled, everyone ran away to avoid confronting what had happened. Since then, Abramovic has been called the godmother of performance art, with her often-physically-extreme work continuing to polarize viewers and critics alike. 

The Challenge

I think art galleries and auctions are the very classic definition of ‘that artists is better and more sophisticated than you so suck it’.

The challenge and competition to be the best is what keeps most artists in the game, its like a chase for the Holy Grail, not to make money, most artists don’t go into art for the money, shockingly despite art being one of the most expensive commodities in the world.

Artists are acutely aware of struggle, and competition is struggle par excellence. If the phrase is to mean anything, it’s the struggle to find an artful approach to competition, one that would allow them to pay attention to – and even benefit from – what others are doing without letting it become a burden.

Art crosses the language barrier

Art is very expressive, it is rooted in the core of expressing emotions and helping others relate and resonate with the emotion that is being depicted in the work of art. This is the major reason as to why I’m writing this article on art in the first place.

I’m an emotional intelligence blogger as you may have noticed from all my other posts, expression of emotions and empathy towards others’ struggles, suffering and joy is a big part of what I do. And art, is mainly based on expressing certain emotions and driving a cross a well intended must hear message.

Take for example “The Kiss”

the kiss
The Kiss

Made by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, ‘The Kiss’ is a painting that depicts the human emotion of passion. It has a man and a woman beautifully drawn while sharing a kiss. This is by far the most sensual painting of a kiss painted by an artist. It seems that this painting actually kisses.

Emotions can be misleading and misunderstood when expressed verbally, however, through paintings such as these, we get to feel the passion and the emotion of love through the art of the piece. Artists love art because it bridges the way to the heart and emotions that verbal languages can’t achieve no matter how accurately articulated.

Reduces stress

In a certain study, co-authored by Kendra Ray, a doctoral student under Kaimal, and Juan Muniz, an assistant teaching professor in the department of nutrition sciences, invited 39 adults, ranging from 18 to 59 years old, to participate.

Markers, paper, clay and collage materials were amongst the tools offered up to the participants, who were instructed to create whatever they so pleased over the course of 45 minutes, with no further directives. An art therapist was on site in case the participants had any questions or concerns. 

Before the crafting commenced, researchers recorded the cortisol levels of the study participants. Cortisol is a biological indicator correlated to stress — the higher your cortisol level is, the more stressed out you probably are. The participants also described their artistic experience prior to the study. Just under half described their art background as “limited.” 

After the very scientific craft party, researchers again tested the participants’ cortisol levels. Approximately 75 percent of the participants displayed lower levels of cortisol, indicating lower stress levels.

The very act of creating art has been proven countless times to be a stress reliever, any creative work is mostly considered as a stress reliever, even me writing this article right now is considered as a stress reliever.

Why viewers love art so much

The beauty and prettiness

This is the only reason why I would ever buy any piece of art, as of now that is, maybe after finishing writing this article I will embark on being an art lover myself.

The beauty and awesomeness of the colors and brushes used are what attracts some of us to art, we sometimes fail to see the message, or the least we interpret it wrongly. Our philosophical stand points are sometimes too narrow to withstand the magnitude of what the artist is striving to communicate. Which makes me wonder what would happen if I bought an expensive piece of art at an auction because of its beauty only to have it blown up immediately. The anger.

street art, graffiti

Personally I’m a lover of street art, that is graffiti to be precise, it is modern, always full of colors, beautiful, easy on the eyes and the message is almost always clear and rarely needs a philosophical mind to debunk, not that I’m not philosophically minded, but who wants to think that much.

Reminds us what is important

Most works of art are aimed at addressing the human condition, their sole purpose is to show us what deserves our attention, and what is more important than anything in life.

We are all stuck in loops of searching for the meaning of life, the truth and searching for what is important in our lives. Art helps us look deeper into our beings to see what is necessary and what is vanity.

In the case of Banksy, I believe the vanity of materialism and ownership of things was the message being driven across, and we can all agree it was heard loud and clear.

Art makes us question ourselves, our views on life and our principles. Another emerging message being driven by art is minimalism.

minimalist and simplistic art

Minimalism is a way of showing the elegance of things in their very simplicity, basically that life is all about the little things, that the most important things in life are free and principles as such.

This is a big part of why Alain de Botton holds art and culture in such high regards as a replacement for religion. It helps us remember what is right, what is important, what makes us human, the consequences of our actions, what is morally right, what is needed to be done and in general helps us see the light of life, the same way religion has done it for centuries.

Energizes us for a cause

I gave an example of the TV show “Money Heist” as one work of art that was used to start a revolution, the robbery in the first and second season were not just done with the simple intention of just getting rich but rather spike a question into the minds of the viewers, make them question their reality and existence, to show them what is really happening around them, to remove them from the blind folds that are blinding them from the truth.

We have seen countless people following the anonymous artists who paint on buildings and the streets. They first start by falling in love with the anonymity of these artists, then their art and inevitably their agenda, many artists have gone to the extreme ends to pass along a message but have still maintained their supporters, they can insight movements that can help see change in the society.

Alain de Botton calls this the propaganda of art. That art can be used for propaganda, however we should note that it shouldn’t be used to spread hateful and harmful propaganda.

Art has immense emotional power

Part of emotional intelligence is your level of self awareness and social awareness. This refers to the extent to which you know yourself and your emotions, the motive of your actions and the effect you emotions have on you, moreover, it is the extent to which you can be empathetic and relate to the struggles, problems, and joy of the world and the people around you.

Art helps us feel and know things that would have sometimes been oblivious to us, this includes the pain and suffering of others, the happiness and joy in simple things. Art helps us resonate with what the artist was going through at the time of painting, we end up connecting with his/her emotions and feelings behind the making of the work of art.

For example ‘the starry nights’ by Van Gogh;

the starry nights by van ggogh
The Starry Night – Van Gogh

Van Gogh’s painting ‘The Starry Night’ portrays his own surreal nature. With twirls of clouds, dark structures, moons, planets and winds, this painting clearly depicts the disturbance in the mind of the artist. Many people have different interpretations of this painting but considering his mental health, this is the most sort out meaning.

Plagued by psychiatric illness throughout his life, Van Gogh committed suicide in 1890. Evidence suggests that he had manic depression, a chronic mental illness that is thought to affect many creative people. 

Another example of a work of art that depicts its power to express emotions is the Guernica:

Guernica by Pablo Picasso
Guernica – Pablo Picaso

Made by Pablo Picasso, Guernica is a black and white art. Picasso depicted war and how mankind was affected by it in this painting. The colors are illustrative of the sadness and mournful atmosphere of war.

This piece is loved by many people, the painting goes so far to show the remorse of an artist who hated war so much to an extent that he restrained himself from putting colors in his masterpiece. To be honest, if I saw this painting before I read about it, I wouldn’t have known what it meant in a million years.

Such paintings have a way of showing us that pain is part of the human conditions, that sufferig and emotional turmoil are part of who we are, art helps us and artists themselves to express themselves, their emotions and be heard and understood by the emotionally intelligent.

Bottom line

art is important to your eq- themindcomplex.com

As much as I may not be the biggest art lover in the world, it is irrefutable to not see the effect that art has on our emotions and emotional intelligence in the first place. I’m almost tempted to say that art lovers are very emotionally intelligent than those of us who aren’t, but like I have said countless times before – I will never state something that is not medically or psychologically proven, a blind man can’t lead the blind.

Art makes us become very emotionally aware, it helps us resonate with what is already inside and with what is already out there, basically, art is a form of emotional catharsis.

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About author
I'm a psychology enthusiast and a fried chicken lover. I write bite sized articles unpacking the complexities of the human mind. The mission is to advocate for what's more important in life - the pursuit of the truth and the highest good one can do with that truth - for themselves, the people around them and the society as a whole.
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