From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Jump to: navigation, search

Artist is a descriptive term applied to a person who engages in an activity deemed to be an art. It is also used in a qualititive sense of a person creative in, innovative in, or adept at, an artistic practice.

Most often, the term describes those who create within a context of 'high culture', activities such as drawing, sculpture, acting, dancing, writing, filmmaking and music — people who use imagination, and talent or skill, to create works that can be judged to have an aesthetic value. Art historians and critics will define as artists those who produce art within a recognised or recognisable discipline.

The term is also used to denote highly skilled people in non-"arts" activities, as well — crafts, medicine, alchemy, mechanics, mathematics, defense (martial arts) and architecture, for example. The designation is applied to illegal activities, like a "scam artist".

There is no consensus about what constitutes "art" or who is, or is not, an "artist". Often, discussions on the subject focus on the differences between "artist" and "technician" or "entertainer," or "artisan," "fine art" and "applied art," or what constitutes art and what does not.

The Oxford English dictionary, cites broad meanings of the term "artist,"

  • A learned person or Master of Arts.
  • One who pursues a practical science, traditionally medicine, astrology, alchemy, chemistry.
  • A follower of a pursuit in which skill comes by study or practice - the opposite of a theorist.
  • A follower of a manual art, such as a mechanic.
  • One who makes their craft a fine art.
  • One who cultivates one of the fine arts - traditionally the arts presided over by the muses.

(referenced from: C. T. Onions (1991) The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Clarendon Press Oxford. ISBN 0-19-861126-9)

In Greek the word "techně" is often mistranslated into "art." In actuality, "techně" implies mastery of a craft (any craft.) The Latin-derived form of the word is "tecnicus", from which the English words technique, technology, technical are derived. Our word art is derived from the Latin "ars", which, though literally defined means "skill method" or "technique", holds a connotation of beauty.

Many contemporary definitions of "artist" and "art" are highly contingent on culture, resisting aesthetic prescription, in much the same way that the features constituting beauty and the beautiful cannot be easily standardized without corruption into kitsch.

A list of select well known artists and their subjects

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Personal tools