What Is Art?

By Anneka Murdoch ’21


“the attempt to express the ineffable.” Luis Landero, Entre lineas: el cuento o la vida, (61)


the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.” dictionary.com


“a kind of representation that is purposive in itself and, though without an end, nevertheless promotes the cultivation of the mental powers for sociable communication” Immanuel Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment


“Art … wishes to convince us of the eternal joy of existence: only we are to seek this joy not in phenomena, but behind them. We are to recognise that all that comes into being must be ready for a sorrowful end; we are forced to look into the terrors of the individual existence – yet we are not to become rigid with fear: a metaphysical comfort tears us momentarily from the bustle of transforming figures.” Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy


What do we see but cannot say? What do we feel but cannot articulate? Art is literature, language, painting, sculpture, music, poetry. Art comes through sight, audio, taste, touch, smell. It is simultaneously what we cannot describe and all we know of the world. It is both a metaphor for our reality and the only means we have to describe it. Art is what it is to be human.