Philosophy of Art

What is the Philosophy of Art?

The Philosophy of Art is like a big umbrella that covers thinking and asking questions about art. It’s like being a detective, but instead of solving mysteries about crimes, you’re solving the mysteries of art. This detective work involves figuring out what makes something art and why it’s important to people.

One simple way to think of it is this: Imagine you are watching a play and you start to wonder why the story and the actors on stage make you feel a certain way. The Philosophy of Art is the thoughts and conversations that try to answer those wonders. Another way to see it is like a map. This map helps us navigate through the world of creativity and pinpoints where the treasure, or meaning, of art is buried.

Types of Philosophy of Art

When we think about different ideas about art, we meet a bunch of cool perspectives along the way. Here’s what they look like:

  • Imitationalism: This type is like a game of copycat. Artisans who create things that look super close to real life are like wizards in the world of imitationalism. It’s a thumbs up for them!
  • Formalism: This one throws the spotlight on art’s shapes and designs. It cares a lot about the building blocks of art, like lines, colors, and how they’re arranged.
  • Expressivism: Pouring your heart out is what this approach values most. If your art can make other people feel the same feels you do, that’s expressivism saying, ‘Great job!’.
  • Institutionalism: Imagine a club where the members are big shots in the art world. If they say something is art, then it magically becomes art in the eyes of institutionalism.
  • Historicism: This perspective is a bit like a time machine. It’s interested in the story behind art, like when it was made and the history around that time.

Examples of Philosophy of Art

  • A very realistic drawing of your pet dog would be a great showcase for imitationalism because it blurs the line between a drawing and real life, making you second guess what’s real.
  • A structure with interlocking metal pieces could be a star in the formalism world because of its complex design and the way all the pieces fit together to create something captivating.
  • A book that pulls at your heartstrings, maybe one about a grand adventure or a touching friendship, is a winner for expressivism because it connects with what you feel inside.
  • An odd piece of art that just seems to be a bunch of squiggly lines, but gets the seal of approval from important art leaders, is valued in institutionalism because their say-so makes it matter.
  • An ancient Greek vase painted with images of myths and gods tells us a lot about the people’s beliefs back then, which is what historicism is all about–connecting us to the past through art.

Why is it Important?

Why should you care about the Philosophy of Art? Because it adds spice to how we see and think about art. This branch of philosophy doesn’t let us just glance at a painting and walk away; it invites us to dive into what the picture is trying to tell us and how it fits into our world.

It’s super important for everyone, even if you’re not an artist or a big art lover. It helps you understand what makes a song worth listening to again and again or why a movie sticks with you long after you leave the theater. Learning about the Philosophy of Art can change the way you experience all the creative stuff around you every day.

Origin of Philosophy of Art

People have been chatting about what art is and what it means for a very, very long time. From early thinkers to today’s experts, many have tossed their ideas into the ring. These discussions have shaped our brains to consider not just what is art but how and why it impacts us.

Controversies in the Philosophy of Art

Just like some people can’t decide between chocolate or vanilla ice cream, deciding what counts as art can get people really fired up. There’s a big tug-of-war between wanting art to be the stuff that’s been around forever—like classic paintings—and the newer, weirder things that make you go “huh?”

Then there’s the hot topic about whether art can be weird or even make us uncomfortable. One side of the argument thinks art should shake things up and make us think. The other side says art is there to be pretty and make us feel good.

Related Topics

  • Aesthetics: This is the study of beauty and taste. It looks into why some things in the world look lovely to us and why we have different thoughts on what looks nice.
  • Art Criticism: Here, people get into studying and sharing thoughts about art. It involves judging whether art is good or bad, just like when you tell friends what you thought about that new superhero movie.
  • Modernism: This movement was all about doing different stuff than what was done before. It wanted to rip up the rulebook and come up with new styles and ideas that hadn’t been seen in art.
  • Postmodernism: Postmodernism loves to ask questions about why things are the way they are. It plays around with art, being a little silly or serious to make us look at the world in new ways.


In the end, the Philosophy of Art is like putting on special glasses that help us see all the layers and colors of art. It’s not just about looking at art; it’s about connecting with it, thinking about it, and finding out why it’s more than just a pretty picture or a catchy tune. By understanding different ideas from imitationalism to institutionalism, we can start to appreciate all the creative work people do. Whether you’re a future Picasso or just someone who enjoys doodling, exploring the Philosophy of Art can make your experience with art richer and fuller. It’s not always about finding the one right answer, but about enjoying this deep and interesting journey of understanding art and its place in our lives.