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Art Definition: Modern vs. Traditional

The definition of art is changing with time. The modern definition of art focuses on the way art changes over time and breaks away from its traditional definition. The old definition of art focused on skills or crafts demonstrated. According to Awesome Artistic website, art is the use of skill and thoughts in the creation of beautiful objects, surroundings, or experiences that can be shared with other people (Artist, 2008).

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The modern definition encompasses several meanings such as studying, using, production, or the experience of the audience with the creative skills (Adajian, 2007). This definition demonstrates that art is purposeful creations and interpretations of concepts to create a human experience through the communication of ideas. Though the definitions of art are changing over time, the concept of skill still remains.

The painting “Sunny Morning” by Richard Miller, an American artist, displays exceptional skills of an artist. The painting on an oil canvas shows a figure of a woman gazing at her necklace. The Artist cleverly achieves an effect of morning sunlight in the painting. The brush strokes create an impression of movements. Richard delicately presents the scene to evoke a lasting memory of the audience.

The sculpture is one of the oldest forms of art. Artists used sculptures mainly to represent human beings. Viewers considered them the ultimate form of artistic creation. “The Sudanese Totem Pole” of an African figure is from wood. The figure is a nude woman with prominent breasts and hands covering loins. The artist attached the figure to a wood to demonstrate permanence and created an object of timeless value (Witcombe, 1997).

Architecture is the art of designing and constructing physical structures. The artist skillfully combines criteria such as cultural, psychological and aesthetic values to create a magnificent physical structure. Augustus Pugin designed St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ireland, which changed the history and became a historical landmark of Roman Catholic (Corbusier, 2011).

Photography is among the modern forms of art. Some critics argue that photography is not art since it is from mechanical devices and chemicals. It is not a work done by hand and inspiration of an artist. Others say that photography is not equal to painting and drawing. The debate now rages on whether photography is an art or just a new form of documentation. Sally Mann, an American photograph, captures the figure of a lady in a squatting position with arms embracing knees, and her hands held palm to palm, facing downwards. The photograph reflects her image on the background water. This is a photograph of “Shiva at Whistle Creek, 1992” (Witcombe, 1997).

Today printmaking is losing its place in the world of art. Gallery directors consider them as low order work of art. Printmaking comes behind the highly prestigious painting and sculpture. However, printmaking reflects the changing visual society. “Baby’s House, 1994” is a print of a freshly delivered infant held by a man’s hand. Laura Pharis carefully uses a blue colour to suggest space, water and sky. The print captures water, air, fire, and earth at the corner. This is what makes it an art (Witcombe, 1997).

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Conceptual art emerged in the 1960s. Conceptual art conveys ideas or concepts to the perceived viewers. It rejects the traditional forms of art, such as painting and sculpture as valuable commodities. “A Dollar for Your Soul” captures the Ponzi pyramid schemes and crowds’ madness about money. The artist captures the attention of a perceived audience by gold glittering in the background (Delahunt, 1996).

Installation Art is a modern form of art. It uses sculptural materials and other forms of media to create a new experience of a given space. Robert Filliou shows a piece of installation of broken glasses, tools, wood, clothing and other objects (Calder, 2007).

Performance Art originated in the United States in the early 1960s. It involves the use of live artistic performance. The actions are live and skilful. Li Wei is a postmodernist artist who uses both the performance art and photography to create applying illusions to the audience (Smith, 2001).


Adajian, T. (2007). The Definition of Art. Web.

Artist, A. (2008). Bring out the Awesome Artist in you. Web.

Calder, A. (2007). Installation art. Web.

Corbusier, L. (2011). Modern concepts of architecture. Web.

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Delahunt, M. (1996). Artlex Art Dictionary. Web.

Smith, D. (2001). Performance Art. Web.

Witcombe, C. L. (1997). Art and Artists. Web.

Witcombe, C. L. (1997). Art and Artists. Web.

Witcombe, C. L. (1997). Art and Artists. Web.

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