Art is artistic creativity as a special form of social consciousness, a kind of spiritual assimilation of reality. The term “art” has long been used to refer not only to artistic works, products of artistic activity but also to “mastery”, “mastery”, “artistry”, “virtuosity”, manifested in any other sphere of consciousness and activity (in craft, science, technology). Unlike the English “art” and the German “Kunst”, the Russian word “art” differs in many meanings of meaning and nuance: it is a trial, and temptation, and seduction, and skill or experience (knowledge coupled with skill), and all kinds of arts in one’s own sense of the word (literature, music, painting, dance). The definition of art crystallized in the course of the evolution of concepts denoting related or similar phenomena and properties. Thus, for example, the Greek word “tέχνη” (“techne”) was the name of science, craft and art, combined by the criterion of their belonging to “expedient”, “ideologically meaningful”, “model-generating” activity.

The isolation of art as an independent category and the phenomenon of human experience in ancient aesthetics took place through the juxtaposition and juxtaposition of art and nature, art and morality, the real and ideal principles, the scientific concept and the artistic image. The question “what is art?” Becomes the leitmotif of the whole subsequent history of aesthetic thought, trying to answer it, taking into account the new data of sciences (biology, psychology, archeology, ethnography) and applying various approaches. The concept of art is still the subject of a long-ago dispute over its “broad” and “narrow” application. The point of the dispute is not whether or not this term can be used to describe activities and products that do not have a direct relationship to art, but which undoubtedly indicate that the artistic principle is present (in the norm – necessarily) in any matter or act of human life and activity , nor is it that art is a special, “specialized” form of reflection of reality and a mode of spiritual production that has its own specificity, its content and function. It is about the place and role of art in the syncretic collective experience of mankind, in the development of a culture of feelings and sociability, the ability to live and create according to the “laws of beauty”. The distinction between “art” and “non-art” certainly exists, but it has a historically fluid character: what is now called art, in the past was only “fine art”, unlike all crafts that were rude (” inelegant “) art. This difference will persist as long as the present division of labor exists.

The syncretic and predominantly ritual-magical nature of the “works” of primitive art of the late Paleolithic period (30-20 thousand years BC), despite the non-manifestation of the aesthetic principles proper, nevertheless allows them to be attributed to the facts of art. Ancient sculptures, figurines of animals and people, drawings on clay, rock carvings “frescoes” are distinguished by liveliness, immediacy and authenticity of the image, testify to the knowledge and knowledge of the language and means of conditional reflection on the plane, the ability to work with volumes. The definition of primitive art as “realistic”, “naturalistic” or “impressionistic” in fact, fixes the “blood-bearing” connection between the distant initial and subsequent stages of the development of art, its modern forms and typological characteristics.

Various interpretations of the concept of art reflect various aspects of its social nature and species specificity. Thus, ancient aesthetics emphasized the mimetic, “imitative” moment, emphasizing the cognitive value and moral value of art. In the Middle Ages, art is seen as a means and means of becoming familiar with the “infinite”, “divine” principle: it sees a bearer, even an imperfect, of spiritual, “disembodied” beauty. The Renaissance epoch returns and develops the ancient idea of ​​art as a “mirror”, “imitating the beautiful nature,” joining Aristotle rather than Plato. German classical aesthetics (Kant, Schiller, Hegel) regards art as “an expedient activity without purpose,” “the kingdom of appearances,” the “play of creative forces,” the manifestation and expression of the existence of the “Absolute Spirit”, introduces significant adjustments in the understanding of the relationship of art with empirical reality , science, morality and religion. Modern “postmodern aesthetics”, questioning and denying the tradition and value of the “old” humanistic culture, tries to reinterpret the relationship of works of art in the spirit of the “new mimesis” (J. Derrida) with what lies behind the edges of the “text” and is classified as ” reality”.

The identification of the relationship between art and reality does not exhaust the problem of determining its essence. The concrete-general nature of art is encompassed and revealed by a whole series of approaches that presuppose and complement each other; among them; it is customary to single out the epistemological, epistemological, value (axiological), aesthetic-sociological (functional). Considering art in the epistemological sense, on which Plato emphasized, or within the framework of the function performed by him, with which Aristotle began his analysis of the Greek tragedy, the theorist somehow determines the value significance of artistic cognition and activity. In turn, the value approach cannot neglect the sociological characterization of the essence and function of art. To understand the specificity of art, the theoretical and cognitive and value aspects are of particular importance, and the place and role of art in social life is appropriately grasped and revealed through aesthetic-sociological analysis. Kant, having analyzed the “judgments of taste,” convincingly demonstrated the independence (albeit relative) of the epistemological aspect. The question of the social essence of art arises only in the context of a discussion of its communicative capabilities and function. After all, art in the proper sense of the word itself shapes the public, who understands it and can enjoy the beauty.

Historically, art arises when a person goes beyond the satisfaction of his immediate physical needs, practical interests and goals, and he has the opportunity to create universally, freely, producing things and objects that give him pleasure in the process of the activity. The emergence and formation of art are associated with the satisfaction of the need, first foreseen, and then realized, in the production and reproduction of the human character of its vital activity, and itself as a universal and universal being. Art reveals, reveals and represents illusively, in “appearance” what is hidden – as an impulse, goal and mode of action – is contained in the subject-public content of the human activity, which is an objective source of the activity of the individual. At the same time, art affirms the potential for the universal development of the social individual as a real possibility – as a real possibility and actual force, without losing sight of the fact that it is realized under the dominance of the “realm of necessity”.

Art, by its very nature, ahead of the norms and representations of its time, in a certain sense can set a goal. In the world of artistic imagination, people seem to soar above the necessities, not keeping within the bounds of the obligatory correspondence to the “existent.” In this sense, art creates “possible” dynamic “being” (Aristotle), a world of “expediency beyond any goal” (Kant). External circumstances do not have absolute power over the internal norms of the human relation to reality, which art develops “ideally.” Therefore, the work of art is a projection of spiritual aspiration, the search for feelings, the fantasy of desires, for it is born from the need of man to transform his sensuous attitude to reality, supplying this need with all the necessary material. Art does not turn aside fastidiously from the fullness of the manifestations of life (and in this sense, there is nothing “forbidden” for it), but at the same time does not require, as L. Feuerbach noted, the recognition of his works for reality.

The power of art manifests itself in a certain freedom from the factual side of life. Hegel, who represented the history of art as embodied in the images “self-movement” of the aesthetic ideal, was exactly what this feature meant, and Belinsky, who saw in “a longing for the ideal” the illusory form of expressing the vital needs of the social person in the art. The ideal as a matter of course and possible reality gets its true-to-life embodiment and justification in art. Reflecting and expressing reality from the standpoint of the higher needs of the developing person, art shows how the present enters the future, what in the present belongs to the future.

In principle, art is created by personality and appeals to the individual. No area of ​​man’s creative activity can compete with him in the fullness of the reflection of the whole variety of human sensations. This applies to the artist, the author of the work in which he “expresses himself”, often telling the reader, the viewer, the most secret secrets of his heart, mind, soul. Unprecedented opportunities for art in revealing the motives of human behavior, action, experience. Removing already known, fixed values ​​of facts, phenomena, events, the artist reveals and reproduces their inner meaning in an individually unique form and form, which essentially and obviously differs from the theoretical scientist. Being an act of creativity and partiality, art counts on an adequate response. In the process of perception of a work of art, as a rule, an act of profoundly individual, uniquely personal, the fullness of the universal, universal nature of the reader, the viewer, the listener is manifested. All kinds of deviations, due to the difference in the level of development of taste, imagination, general and emotional culture of recipients, do not abolish this norm of truly artistic perception.

“Imaginary being”, “possible reality” of art are no less (often – more) valid than the objectively existing world that served as the starting point of contemplation and representation; and in form is an image of the whole in the “image” of the artistic representation, where the generalization is constructed through a transition from one specificity to another, and so that the formation of creativity necessarily emerges as a meaningfulness. So, through art – a special kind of spiritual and practical mastery of reality – the formation and development of the ability of the social person to creatively perceive and transform the world around him and himself according to the laws of beauty. Unlike other spheres and forms of social consciousness and activity (science, morality, religion, politics) art satisfies the most important human need – perception, cognition of real reality in the developed forms of human sensibility, i.e. with the help of the specifically human ability of the sensory (“aesthetic,” expressive) perception of the phenomenon, objects and events of the objective world as a “living concrete whole” embodied in works of art through creative, “productive” imagination. Since art includes, as it were, in a withdrawn from all forms of social activity, the sphere of its impact on life and man is truly unlimited. This, on the one hand, deprives any sense of the claim of art for some exclusivity, except that which is dictated by its species essence. On the other hand, by providing a transformative effect on many social spheres and institutions, art retains its inherent characteristics and relative independence.

Historically, art develops as a system of specific species. This – literature, music, architecture, painting, sculpture, arts and crafts, etc. Their diversity and differences are fixed and classified according to the criteria worked out by the aesthetic theory and art history: according to the way of reflection of reality (epistemological criterion) – graphic, expressive; by the mode of being of the artistic image (ontological criterion) – spatial, temporal, spatiotemporal; by the method of perception (psychological criterion) – auditory, visual and visual-auditory. However, this distinction is relative. The product “pictorial” is at the same time “expressive” (for example, a portrait or landscape, acting, etc.), while “expressive” includes a “pictorial” element (as, for example, “Pictures from the exhibition “M. Mussorgsky, dance or architectural image). Classification, built on the principle of the dominant feature, does not take into account the fact that each art form uses and represents (in different proportions) all forms and means of artistic “language” – representativeness, expressiveness, symbolization, temporal and spatial characteristics. Literature occupies a special place in this system of art forms, as the most “synthetic” form of artistic imagery. Types of art – the system is dynamically developing: in one or another epoch some of the species prevails, becomes dominant (epic and tragedy – in Ancient Greece, architecture and iconography – in the Middle Ages, cinema and television – in the 20th century). With the development of science and technology, the improvement of communication tools, new types of art arise; so, at the beginning of 20 century appears a movie, and at the end of it – an artistic photograph that uses the principle of “collage” (a technique developed by Braque and Picasso) and claims the status of a new visual art.

The question “what is art?” Takes on relevance and urgency with the advent of postmodernism, which casts doubt on many of the “old”, classical ideas, including the aesthetic, about the artistic, and therefore, about art. For postmodernists, they retain their significance only as “transcultural, trans-temporal values.” Revised antique views of the “Mimesis,” which boils down to “fraudulent illusionism” that engendered traditional realism. The idea of ​​the so-called priority is tangible, and not illusory, objects, representing a new, original means of interaction between artistic expression and the experience of everyday life. The “postmodern” artistic practice corresponding to this principle is considered (more precisely – given away) for a new and unpredictable step in the rapprochement of art and life, supposedly merging into a “one-time experience”. This approach to art is fully consonant with and adequate to the modernist rejection of an integral picture of the world, in fact, discrete and unfinished. However, such a decisive break with the past, the classical heritage is unlikely to be more powerful than the spiritual and practical power of art itself, which continues to amaze imagination and give pleasure to all new generations of people.

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