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A World Of Art: Term Definition


Since time immemorial, the definition of art has been problematic. Traditionally, the term referred to any kind of expertise or masterly. However, this conception has changed with time and during the romantic period, the term gained prominence as a part of the human mind related to science and religion. Art is not a natural but cultural construct. It is thus an unstable matter that is subject to unending reconstitution and redefinition (Henry, 2007, p. 41). It is associated with a distinctive way of expression of individual tastes. In real sense, art, like language is woven into our individual experiences and consciousness.

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Social, Political, Or Economic Conditions Can Alter The Nature And Meaning Of Art

Ideally, art is a conscious practice through which man assembles components in a manner that appeals to the senses. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities such as music, paintings, printmaking, literature and sculpture among other forms of expression.

Therefore, it is no doubt that social, political, and even economic conditions indeed alter the nature and meaning of art throughout history. For instance, during the Neoclassicism era, Frederick Ilchman carefully created some juxtapositions and, demonstrated his magical ability to paint people of high political rank, not as they were but as they wished to be. By doing this, he endowed people with power, dignity and nobility that rulers should have (This however, could have eluded most of them in real life.) He therefore established the conventions of aristocratic and kingly portraiture of this period. This is portrayed in his portraiture of the last pope during the renaissance period. By creating the portrait of Paul III who was unenthusiastic in reforming the church, he seems to have just turned to stare at us from the peak of trampled velvet with his mysterious and striking eyes full of motive and the determination. This is a monumental and persuasive spiritual figure. Through this portrait, he has successfully intertwined the social and political conditions of his time. This context however, has since changed.

Similarly, during the Baroque era, Carlo Rainaldi realized a choir, which visibly represents the economic status during that time and place (Art Cyclopaedia, n. d., par. 2). Throughout his paintings, the basic theme of silence is portrayed in social-economic matters that caused life and death. This is also evident in political matters such as the events of the Napoleon times. In his father-Child dialogue, the artistic impact of Baroque became eminent when he dealt with a rare subject matter, The Christian Epic, emphasizing the theme of religion. He achieves this through his creative use of a serious tone. This is also evident in the dialogue between the horizontals and verticals in the play of perfect arches where the artist has demonstrated supreme mastery of subject matter. Such social-economic and political events have however been overtaken by events and instead their places replaced by new contexts.


Indisputably therefore, art is essentially a historical product (Sporre, 2003, p. 14).

The conditions that influence what it contains, how it is seen, discussed and even thought about often changes with time and from place to place. These conditions could either be political, social or even economic.


Art Cyclopaedia (n. d.). Artists by management: romanticism late 18th century to Mid 19th Century. Web.

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Henry, S. (2007). A World of Art. (5th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall

Sporre, S. (2003). The Creative Impulse. (6th Ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall

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