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Peeks and Piques! Art's own Purpose

By Raymond J. Steiner
ART TIMES online May 2013

Art, LIKE DANCE, music, and the spoken or written word, is a means of human expression, a "way" for one human to transmit a "message" to other human beings. As music (sound), stimulates us through the ear, or language (words written and spoken), stimulates the intellect, art, or image-making, "appeals" to the eye and, like the other means of expression, has its own "vocabulary", its own "grammatical " rules to insure clarity of understanding. And, as each language"grammar" — for example, that of Latin, English, Hungarian, or whatever — differs, so also do the different "schools", "styles", or "-isms" of art vary accordingly. It is generally believed that language (the word) is "the new kid" on the block with music, gesture, and art (i.e., image -making) being a more "primitive" means of human expression and, thus, more "natural", more direct, a more effective way of getting a "message" across to others. It is also generally believed that of the four means of human expression — (dance) movement, music (sound), image-making (visual), language  — their occurrence in human evolution follows the above order. It is also often claimed that our last "invention", i.e. words, is perhaps our worst means of communication (consider the U.N.). The point is, humans are responsive, and according to the vehicle will ordinarily react — sometimes positively, sometimes negatively — again, according to the vehicle. In addition to 'bona fide' messages, we also respond to belches, coughs, gestures, sobs, moans, farts, snorts, groans, laughs, and on and on. Likewise, we respond to images that are "lofty" and images that are less so — pornography and meaningless 'dreck', for example…all in accordance with our own level of maturity, education and/or tastes. The artist has a special gift; often misused to communicate clichés, inanity, the latest piece of news. Art has its own purpose, its own message, its own special focus — and its own audience. I personally have no interest in having to visit art exhibitions of belches, farts, and the like. So, your personal angst, your current hobby horse, your politic views, your pet peeves, your present whipping boy, your inner id, your schmears of favorite colors, etc. falls on my unseeing eyes — I will respond to what uplifts, enhances, edifies, romances my soul, and/or spiritually raises my horizons. So please, don't abuse your gift and try instead to communicate something important with your artistic talent. In the end, it does make a difference.

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