Our ancestorsfirst sought to understand themselves and their surroundings through the invention of myths and the worshipping of gods. The Greeks, for example, created gods like Athena and Aries to explain the concept of wisdom and war respectively. I would like to think, contrary to common thought, that this is not a matter of ignorance but of an answering of a basic primal need in humans that still exists today – the need for symbolism, for the human mind is weak and needs constantly to be reminded of what they value most – ideals and emotions.
That is what set the stage for art, whose purpose lies in exploring what man thought and felt. But the limitless capabilities of man, like a fast spreading disease,is so shocking that the boundless expansion of art is quickly making it necessary for man to attempt to define it in order to gain control of, and understand it. Already, the history of art in the 19th century alone has seen movements like realism and impressionism that challenges, time and again, what can be perceived as the notion of art. The underlying concern is that very soon art will not exist, because art is like a garden; though the flowers have to be allowed to bloom freely, a lack of attention and tending after would most certainly result in a tangled mess of overgrown weeds and undergrowth. Over time, you may very well get yourself a jungle! It is therefore imperative that we understand what art is.
In the meantime, though, art is still present, at every point of time, in a myriad of different forms to different people. This means not just the different categories of art and its accompanying styles, but also how each individual chooses to interpret a piece of artwork that is presented to them. For example, L.H.O.O.Q by Marcel Duchamp, the key figure of 20th century art movement, Dadaism, may be understood by one group of people as a mockery of classical beauty, of which some would commend and others d…