What is art?

I am currently taking an art history course on Latin-America and our professor asked the following questions, which I thought would fit well here. Here are my thoughts:


What is 'Art?' What is the function of 'Art?' Provide specific examples, if you can, of the way 'Art' has been used by various cultures.
The professor asks a very complex, but fair question. I understand the term in various manners; in fact, the more I think about what ART is, the more profound my thoughts. Here are a few attempts (each reflection is independent in and of itself):

I. Art is like a tall and vigorous tree, from which sprout various fruits: literature, music, film, painting, theatre, sculpture, dance, etc. Art is not a thing in itself; it is intangible, but it does nourish and give life to these fruits. The fruits, in turn, are consumed by man, who procreates more art.

II. There are two forms of ART. The first is a great “Art,” which is pure and perfect. The second “art” is that produced by man, which attempts to represent the greater “Art”. Film, painting, poetry, theatre, literature, sculpture, dance, etc. are “art,” which attempts to capture and represent the greater “Art”.

III. Art is Passion, Grace, Knowledge, Justice, Purity, Truth, and Love.

IV. Art can stimulate minds, sensitize emotions, shake spirits, and/ or simply delight our eyes.

The function of art is to express that which cannot be expressed any other way or through any other form (e.g., politics, business, sports). However, art can interpret these other forms. For example, Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, which commemorates the April 26, 1937 “disaster that foreshadowed the massive, impersonal, and inhumane bombing of European cities in World War II” (Arts and Culture, An Introduction to the Humanities, pg. 552). Guernica takes a political/ social/ historical action and converts it into an artistic expression filled with drama, agony, pain, and redemption through symbols and color (or lack thereof).

If art did not exist, I would have withered away centuries ago. Thus, I am glad art exists.