The humanities are the study of how people process and record their experiences. It can also be described as the cultural dimensions that investigate what it means to be human (Batteux 78). There is a distinction between humanities and sciences in terms of how they attempt to understand the universe. The latter describes the fact, while the former expresses humankind’s involvements with reality, including methods for deducing it, converting inner involvements into touchable forms, judging and evaluating, and commenting on it.
Symbols, imagination, fine and applied arts, and aesthetic engagement are the primary considerations of the arts (Steele 38). A symbol is a physical representation of an abstract thing. Through symbols, the artwork is made into doorways resulting in enriched meaning. Through creativity, artists explore new ways of expressing ideas through the process in which technique, material, creative action, and thought syndicate in a medium to generate something new that will trigger human experience that is the human response to artwork (Batteux 82). Fine and applied arts, on the other hand, mean painting, theatre, music, sculpture, architecture, dance, and cinema. In the latter, there is the inclusion of decorative arts and design; they refer to forms of arts that have principally ornamental rather than emotional or communicative purpose.
The four functions of arts are as follows: first is the elevation of the community status. This exaltation is done through having specific art pieces in the society that perform a given function. An example is Calder stabile, which can be a community’s point of pride. Secondly, arts can be used as entertaining tools (Batteux 87). Many artistic creations can attract one’s emotions and make a person to laugh, even if s/he was not prepared to do so. The third function is control; arts have been used to exert enchanted control over time, acquisition of food, or even the seasons. Fourth and lastly, it is used to bring order to a messy situation (Batteux 90). In the case of chaos in the world, the artists can take up the role of controlling of what is happening by coming up with the works that symbolize the importance of peace maintenance.
The purposes of arts may be summarized as communication of ideas such as spiritual and political thoughts or philosophically motivated art that creates a sense of beauty (Batteux 93). Also, they purpose to explore perception of nature and strong emotions generation among many others. To analyze the artworks, one may use two types of criticism, contextual and formal (Steele 33). The similarity between them lies in the fact that they both focus on a particular artwork (Steele 40). On the other hand, the difference between these two types of criticism is that the formal approach describes the piece of creation, while contextual dwells on how this work fits in the world around it.
There are two common aspects of arts that are employed in the identification of art styles. The process involves analyzing the creator’s fashion as well as the art style as a conversation (Batteux 18). In drawings and paintings, identification is based on the iconic style, i.e. analyzing how the letters or images are appearing in the artwork. There are also some other factors included in the process, and they revolve around the styles discussed by the art experts, classificatory connections among them as well as their influencing function on the other components of art.
Batteux, Charles. The Fine Arts Reduced to a Single Principle. Oxford University Press, 2015.
Steele, Valerie. Paris Fashion: A Cultural History. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017.