Why do Humans Make Art? - History & Value

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  • 0:03 Humans and Art
  • 1:48 Art Is Valuable for Society
  • 2:54 Art Tells Us About Ourselves
  • 4:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Juliao

David has a bachelor's degree in architecture, has done research in architecture, arts and design and has worked in the field for several years.

In this lesson, we'll discuss one of the most distinctive aspects of humans: the creation of art. We'll explore why humans make art, the value placed on it, and understand how art provides us with a better understanding of our history.

Humans and Art

''Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,'' said the famous Spanish painter Pablo Picasso.

Art is an important part of being human. Not only we have the ability to create tools and modify our surroundings, but we also have the curiosity for making objects look beautiful. There are many possible reasons and explanations as to why humans make art and it would probably take years to identify each one of them, but let's explore some of the most likely reasons that humans create art.

Some of the main reasons for creating art include:

Making our surroundings more beautiful. Creating objects to decorate our surroundings has motivated the creation of many types of art, such as architecture, painting, sculpture, jewelry, design objects for every day use, and many others.

Creating records of a specific time, place, person or object is also a major motivation for art. Paintings of individuals, battle scenes, or even those artistic wedding photographs could be considered art made for the purpose of recording something specific.

Expressing and communicating ideas also moves the creation of art, including expressing religious beliefs, artwork for criticizing elements of society, for educating people, even for showing that we are capable of doing something no one else has tried before.

There are countless other reasons for the creation of art. But art has been important for mankind since the early dawn of civilization. Our ancestors started to create art at least 30,000 years ago. Among the oldest known examples of art are the prehistoric paintings on the walls of caves in Europe and Asia, depicting human and animal figures and small items for decorating the body. Since those days, art and mankind have evolved together.

Art Is Valuable for Society

Art is inspiring and stimulating for the human mind. Of course, we all don't like the same types of art or enjoy every single piece in the same way; however, when we see a work of art, our feelings and thoughts are often awakened. There is a connection of art as an exterior stimulus with an inner emotional state in our minds. This is one reason behind the value placed on art.

Throughout history, art has been given many valuable meanings, and different objects have been given a great importance because of what they mean or represent to a specific group of people. Some have been treasured because of their religious significance; others have become symbols of political power or national identity. Some are not only valued for their beauty but are also given a material value, especially pieces created with precious metals. Others have become symbols of their time.

Art is often considered of incalculable value, and museums and collectors pay a lot of money to get a single piece. Although it might seem outrageous to some, having those pieces bring benefits, like attracting visitors and promoting an important cultural environment.

Art Tells Us About Ourselves

As a lasting legacy from older times, art allows us to learn about different aspects of the time and place where a piece was created. Art history is deeply related to human history, and its study is important for understanding how mankind has lived and evolved throughout the centuries. Art provides a significant insight into the culture of specific human groups; the technology of that time, what was considered beautiful, the religious beliefs, and even activities of daily life.

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