The arts


The arts can be a little tricky because there is huge disagreement about what constitutes ‘proper’ art. To some people, almost anything can be art; to others, there are strict rules that need to be adhered to. This is one aspect of your course that you’re going to have arguments about, but of course, that’s what we like about it. The Oxford English Dictionary says…



noun 1 the expression of creative skill through a visual medium such as painting or sculpture. 2 the product of such a process; paintings, drawings, and sculpture collectively. 3 (the arts) the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, and drama. 4 (arts) subjects of study primarily concerned with human culture (as contrasted with scientific or technical subjects). 5 a skill: the art of conversation. — ORIGIN Latin ars.

But if you read that carefully, you’ll realize it doesn’t take us very far. The graffiti image that we’ve used as the image for this area of knowledge: where does this definition leave that particular art form? Is it an expression of creative skill? Such questions will dominate your study of the arts in TOK, but you will need to try to move on to others, including how we interact with art (is it rational? Emotional? Do we need a ‘knowledge’ of art to know art?), the role of art in society, and whether we can lay down any objective rules for judging it.

Comments (1)

  1. Pingback: What in the World is Art? – How do You Know

Leave a Comment