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A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an artistic creation of
aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aesthetics). It examines subjective and ...

aesthetic
value. Except for "work of art", which may be used of any work regarded as
art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use ...

art
in its widest sense, including works from
literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expan ...

literature
and
music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated concepts , , and ...

music
, these terms apply principally to tangible, physical forms of
visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint Paint is any pigmented liquid, liquefiable, or solid mastic composition that, after application to a substrate in a thin layer, converts to ...

visual art
: *An example of
fine art In European academic traditions, fine art is developed primarily for aesthetics or beauty, distinguishing it from decorative art or applied art, which also has to serve some practical function, such as pottery or most metalwork. In the aesthe ...

fine art
, such as a
painting Painting is the practice of applying paint Paint is any pigmented liquid, liquefiable, or solid mastic composition that, after application to a substrate in a thin layer, converts to a solid film. It is most commonly used to protect, ...

painting
or
sculpture Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving (the removal of material) and modelling (the addition of material, as clay), ...

sculpture
. *An object that has been designed specifically for its aesthetic appeal, such as a piece of
jewellery Jewellery or jewelry consists of decorative items worn for personal , such as es, , s, s, s, s, and s. Jewellery may be attached to the body or the clothes. From a western perspective, the term is restricted to durable , excluding flowers for ex ...

jewellery
. *An object that has been designed for aesthetic appeal as well as functional purpose, as in
interior design Interior design is the and of enhancing the interior of a to achieve a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing environment for the people using the space. An interior designer is someone who plans, researches, coordinates, and manages s ...

interior design
and much
folk art Traditional styles of faience pottery from Székely Land, Romania, on sale in Budapest in 2014. A conventional idea of folk art, though no doubt made in quasi-industrial conditions. Folk art covers all forms of visual art made in the context ...

folk art
. *An object created for principally or entirely functional, religious or other non-aesthetic reasons which has come to be appreciated as art (often later, or by
cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior among two or more organisms within the same species, and encompasses any behavior in which one member affects the other. This is due to an int ...

cultural
outsiders). *A non-ephemeral
photograph A photograph (also known as a photo) is an image An SAR radar image acquired by the SIR-C/X-SAR radar on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour shows the Teide volcano. The city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is visible as the purple and white ...
or
film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint Paint is any pigmented liquid, liquefiable, ...

film
. *A work of
installation art Installation art is an artistic genre of three-dimensional works that are often site-specific and designed to transform the perception of a space. Generally, the term is applied to interior spaces, whereas exterior interventions are often called ...

installation art
or
conceptual art Conceptual art, also referred to as conceptualism, is art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is n ...
. Used more broadly, the term is less commonly applied to: *A fine work of
architecture upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted), Plan of the second floor (attic storey) of the Hôtel de Brionne in Paris – 1734. Architecture (Latin ''archi ...

architecture
or
landscape design Landscape design is an independent profession and a design and art tradition, practiced by landscape designers, combining nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, u ...
*A production of live
performance A performance is an act of staging or presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment. It is also defined as the action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function. Management science In the work place ...

performance
, such as
theater Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art The performing arts are arts such as music, dance, and drama which are performed for an audience. It is different from visual arts The visual arts are art forms such as pain ...

theater
,
ballet Ballet () is a type of performance dance that originated during the Italian Renaissance in the fifteenth century and later developed into a concert dance form in France and Russia. It has since become a widespread and highly technical form of ...

ballet
,
opera Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a s ...

opera
,
performance art Performance art is an artwork or art exhibition created through actions executed by the artist or other participants. It may be witnessed live or through documentation, spontaneously developed or written, and is traditionally presented to a pu ...
, musical
concert A concert is a live music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural Culture () is an umbrella term wh ...

concert
and other
performing arts The performing arts are arts such as music, dance, and drama which are performed for an audience. It is different from visual arts The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint Paint is ...
, and other ephemeral, non-tangible creations. This article is concerned with the terms and concept as used in and applied to the visual arts, although other fields such as
aural Schematic diagram of the human ear Hearing, or auditory perception, is the ability to perceive sounds In physics, sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid. I ...
-
music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated concepts , , and ...

music
and written word-
literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expan ...

literature
have similar issues and philosophies. The term ''
objet d'art Objet d'art (; plural objets d'art) literally means "art object" (or work of art A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an artistic creation of aesthetics, aesthetic value. Except for "work of art", wh ...
'' is reserved to describe works of art that are not paintings, prints, drawings or large or medium-sized sculptures, or architecture (e.g. household goods, figurines, etc., some purely aesthetic, some also practical). The term ''oeuvre'' is used to describe the complete body of work completed by an artist throughout a career.


Definition

A ''work of art'' in the visual arts is a physical two- or three- dimensional object that is professionally determined or otherwise considered to fulfill a primarily independent
aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aesthetics). It examines subjective and ...

aesthetic
function. A singular art object is often seen in the context of a larger
art movement An art movement is a tendency or style in art with a specific common philosophy or goal, followed by a group of artists during a specific period of time, (usually a few months, years or decades) or, at least, with the heyday of the movement defin ...
or artistic
era An era is a span of time defined for the purposes of chronology 222px, Joseph Scaliger's ''De emendatione temporum'' (1583) began the modern science of chronology Chronology (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging t ...

era
, such as: a
genre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a Category of being, category of literature, ...

genre
, aesthetic
convention Convention may refer to: * Convention (norm), a custom or tradition, a standard of presentation or conduct ** Treaty, an agreement in international law * Convention (meeting), meeting of a (usually large) group of individuals and/or companies in a ...
,
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals i ...

culture
, or regional-national distinction. It can also be seen as an item within an artist's "body of work" or ''
oeuvre Oeuvre(s) or Œuvre(s) may refer to: * A work of art A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an artistic creation of aesthetics, aesthetic value. Except for "work of art", which may be used of any work r ...
''. The term is commonly used by
museum A museum ( ; plural museums or, rarely, musea) is a building or institution that Preservation (library and archival science), cares for and displays a collection (artwork), collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, culture, cu ...

museum
and
cultural heritage Cultural heritage is the legacy of tangible and intangible heritage assetA heritage asset is an item that has value because of its contribution to a nation’s society, knowledge and/or culture. They are usually physical assets, but some countries ...
curator A curator (from la, cura, meaning "to take care") is a manager or overseer. When working with cultural organizations, a curator is typically a "collections curator" or an "exhibitions curator", and has multifaceted tasks dependent on the parti ...
s, the interested public, the
art patron Art is a diverse range of (products of) human behavior, human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is no generally agreed definition of what constitute ...

art patron
-private
art collector A private collection is a privately owned collection of works (usually artworks). In a museum A museum ( ; plural museums or, rarely, musea) is an institution that Preservation (library and archival science), cares for (conserves) a co ...
community, and
art galleries An art gallery is a room or a building in which visual art is displayed. Among the reasons art may be displayed are aesthetic enjoyment, cultural enrichment, or for marketing purposes. While "gallery" continues to be used in the name of institution ...

art galleries
. Physical objects that document immaterial or
conceptual art Conceptual art, also referred to as conceptualism, is art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is n ...
works, but do not conform to artistic conventions can be redefined and reclassified as art objects. Some
Dada Dada () or Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century, with early centres in Zürich, Switzerland, at the Cabaret Voltaire (Zurich), Cabaret Voltaire (c. 1916). New York Dada began c. 1915, and after 1920 ...

Dada
and
Neo-Dada Neo-Dada was a movement with audio, visual The visual system comprises the sensory organ (the eye) and parts of the central nervous system (the retina containing photoreceptor cells, the optic nerve The optic nerve, also known as crania ...
conceptual and
readymade Found object is a loan translation from the French ''objet trouvé'', describing art created from undisguised, but often modified, objects or products that are not normally considered materials from which art is made, often because they alread ...
works have received later inclusion. Also, some
architectural rendering Architectural rendering, architectural illustration, or architectural visualization is the art of creating three-dimensional images or animations showing the attributes of a proposed architecture, architectural design. Computer generated renderings ...

architectural rendering
s and
model In general, a model is an informative representation of an object, person or system. The term originally denoted the plans of a building in late 16th-century English, and derived via French and Italian ultimately from Latin ''modulus'', a measure. ...
s of unbuilt projects, such as by
Vitruvius Vitruvius (; c. 80–70 BC – after c. 15 BC) was a Roman architect and engineer during the 1st century BC, known for his multi-volume work entitled ''De architectura (''On architecture'', published as ''Ten Books on Architecture'') i ...

Vitruvius
,
Leonardo da Vinci Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (15 April 14522 May 1519) was an Italian of the who was active as a painter, , engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor and architect. While his fame initially rested on his achievements as a painter, he als ...

Leonardo da Vinci
,
Frank Lloyd Wright Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959) was an American architect An architect is a person who plans, designs and oversees the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the d ...

Frank Lloyd Wright
, and
Frank Gehry Frank Owen Gehry, , Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, FAIA (; born Frank Owen Goldberg; )Reinhart, Anthony (July 28, 2010"Frank Gehry clears the air", ''The Globe and Mail'' is a Canadian-born American architect and designer. A numb ...
, are other examples. The products of
environmental design Environmental design is the process of addressing surrounding environmental parameters when devising plans, programs, policies, buildings, or products. It seeks to create spaces that will enhance the natural, social, cultural and physical environmen ...
, depending on intention and execution, can be "works of art" and include:
land art Land art, variously known as Earth art, environmental art, and Earthworks, is an art movement that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, largely associated with Great Britain and the United StatesArt in the modern era: A guide to styles, schools, & mov ...

land art
,
site-specific art, ''Site-specific installation,'' 1996, Menil Collection, Houston TX, USA Image:Place du 6-Décembre-1989, Montreal.jpg, 300px, ''Nef pour quatorze reines'' by Rose-Marie Goulet, a memorial to the École Polytechnique Massacre, featuring sculpture, ...
,
architecture upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted), Plan of the second floor (attic storey) of the Hôtel de Brionne in Paris – 1734. Architecture (Latin ''archi ...

architecture
,
garden A garden is a planned space, usually outdoors, set aside for the cultivation, display, and enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature. The single feature identifying even the wildest wild garden A wildlife garden (or wild garden) is an Biophy ...

garden
s,
landscape architecture Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor areas, landmarks, and structures to achieve environmental, social-behavioural, or aesthetic outcomes. It involves the systematic design and general engineering of various structures for construction ...
,
installation art Installation art is an artistic genre of three-dimensional works that are often site-specific and designed to transform the perception of a space. Generally, the term is applied to interior spaces, whereas exterior interventions are often called ...

installation art
,
rock art In archaeology, rock art is human-made markings placed on natural surfaces, typically vertical stone surfaces. A high proportion of surviving historic and prehistoric rock art is found in caves or partly enclosed rock shelters; this type also ma ...
, and
megalithic monuments A megalith is a large pre-historic Rock (geology), stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. There are over 35,000 in Europe alone, located widely from Sweden to the Mediterranean ...

megalithic monuments
. Legal definitions of "work of art" are used in
copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. ...

copyright
law; ''see ''.


Theories

Marcel Duchamp Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp (; ; 28 July 1887 – 2 October 1968) was a French Americans, French-American painter, sculptor, chess player, and writer whose work is associated with Cubism, Dada, and conceptual art. Duchamp is commonly regarded, a ...

Marcel Duchamp
criticized the idea that the work of art should be a unique product of an artist's labour, representational of their technical skill or artistic caprice. Theorists have argued that objects and people do not have a constant meaning, but their meanings are fashioned by humans in the context of their culture, as they have the ability to make things mean or signify something.Hall, S (ed.) 1997, ''Cultural Representations and Signifying Practice'', Open University Press, London, 1997. Artist
Michael Craig-Martin Sir Michael Craig-Martin (born 28 August 1941) is an Irish-born contemporary conceptual artist and painter. He is known for fostering and adopting the Young British Artists, many of whom he taught, and for his conceptual artwork, '' An Oak ...
, creator of ''
An Oak Tree 300px, ''An Oak Tree'' by Michael Craig-Martin. 1973 ''An Oak Tree'' is a conceptual work of art created by Michael Craig-Martin in 1973. The piece, described as being an oak tree, is installed in two units – a pristine installation of a gl ...
'', said of his work – "It's not a symbol. I have changed the physical substance of the glass of water into that of an oak tree. I didn't change its appearance. The actual
oak tree An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus ''Quercus'' (; Latin "oak tree") of the beech family, Fagaceae. There are approximately list of Quercus species, 500 extant species of oaks. The common name "oak" also appears in the names of species in rel ...

oak tree
is physically present, but in the form of a glass of water."


Distinctions

Some
art theorist Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical reality R ...
s and writers have long made a distinction between the physical qualities of an art object and its identity-status as an artwork. For example, a painting by
Rembrandt Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (, ; 15 July 1606 – 4 October 1669), usually simply known as Rembrandt, was a Dutch Golden Age painter, printmaker and Drawing, draughtsman. An innovative and prolific Old Masters, master in three art medi ...

Rembrandt
has a physical existence as an "oil painting on canvas" that is separate from its identity as a
masterpiece Masterpiece, ''magnum opus'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...

masterpiece
"work of art" or the artist's ''magnum opus''. Many works of art are initially denied "museum quality" or artistic merit, and later become accepted and valued in museum and private collections. Works by the
Impressionists Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement characterized by relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open Composition (visual arts), composition, emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the ...
and non-representational
abstract art Abstract art uses visual language of shape, form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Western art had been, from the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th c ...
ists are examples. Some, such as the "Readymades" of Marcel Duchamp including his infamous urinal ''
Fountain A fountain, from the "fons" ( "fontis"), meaning source or , is a decorative reservoir for discharging into a basin to supply . It is also a structure that jets water into the air for a decorative or dramatic effect. Fountains were original ...
'', are later reproduced as museum quality replicas. Research suggests that presenting an artwork in a museum context can affect the perception of it. There is an indefinite distinction, for current or historical aesthetic items: between "
fine art In European academic traditions, fine art is developed primarily for aesthetics or beauty, distinguishing it from decorative art or applied art, which also has to serve some practical function, such as pottery or most metalwork. In the aesthe ...

fine art
" objects made by "
artist An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipeda ...

artist
s"; and
folk art Traditional styles of faience pottery from Székely Land, Romania, on sale in Budapest in 2014. A conventional idea of folk art, though no doubt made in quasi-industrial conditions. Folk art covers all forms of visual art made in the context ...

folk art
, , or "
applied art The applied arts are all the arts that apply design and decoration to everyday and essentially practical objects in order to make them aesthetically pleasing."Applied art" in ''The Oxford Dictionary of Art''. Online edition. Oxford Unive ...
" objects made by "first, second, or third-world"
designer A designer is a person who plans the form or structure of something before it is made, by preparing drawings or plans. In practice, anyone who creates tangible or intangible objects, products, processes, laws, games, graphics, services, or exp ...

designer
s,
artisan Wood carver in Bali An artisan (from french: artisan, it, artigiano) is a skilled craft worker who makes or creates material objects partly or entirely by hand. These objects may be functional or strictly decorative, for example fur ...

artisan
s and
craftspeople Wood carver in Bali An artisan (from french: artisan, it, artigiano) is a skilled craft worker who makes or creates material objects partly or entirely by hand A hand is a prehensile, multi- fingered appendage located at the end of the ...

craftspeople
. Contemporary and archeological indigenous art,
industrial design Industrial design is a process of design A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process, or the result of that plan or specification in the form of a prototyp ...

industrial design
items in limited or
mass production Mass production, also known as flow production or continuous production, is the production of substantial amounts of standardized Standardization or standardisation is the process of implementing and developing technical standard A techni ...
, and places created by
environmental design Environmental design is the process of addressing surrounding environmental parameters when devising plans, programs, policies, buildings, or products. It seeks to create spaces that will enhance the natural, social, cultural and physical environmen ...
ers and
cultural landscape Cultural landscape is a term used in the fields of geography, ecology, and heritage studies, to describe a symbiosis of human activity and environment. As defined by the World Heritage Site, World Heritage Committee, it is the "cultural properti ...
s, are some examples. The term has been consistently available for debate, reconsideration, and redefinition.


See also

*
Anti-art Anti-art is a loosely used term applied to an array of concepts and attitudes that reject prior definitions of art and question art in general. Somewhat paradoxically, anti-art tends to conduct this questioning and rejection from the vantage point o ...
* Artistic media *
Cultural artifact Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English; American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, see spelling diff ...
*
Opus number In musicology Musicology (from Greek 'μουσική' (mousikē) for 'music' and 'λογος' (logos) for 'domain of study') is the scholarly analysis and research-based study of music Music is the of arranging s in time through the ...
(used in music) * Outline of aesthetics * "
The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction“The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1935), by Walter Benjamin, is an essay of cultural criticism which proposes and explains that mechanical reproduction devalues the ''aura'' (uniqueness) of an '' objet d’art''. That in t ...
" *
Western canon The Western canon is the body of high culture High may refer to: People with the name * High (surname)High is a surname. Notable people with the surname include: *Jason High (born 1981), American mixed martial artist *Martha High (born 1945) ...


References


Further reading

*
Richard Wollheim Richard Arthur Wollheim (5 May 1923 − 4 November 2003) was a British philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover of ...
, ''Art and Its Objects'', 2nd ed., 1980, Cambridge University Press, . The classic philosophical enquiry into what a work of art is.


External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Work Of Art * Concepts in aesthetics Design *