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What is the Function of Art? Art in the Enlightenment and Romantic Periods
Before speaking of the function of art, it is important to separate function from the utility. Both sound close and alike, but they are not. Strictly speaking, the function might refer to symbolic; political; economic, or social needs whereas Utility refers to the physical usefulness of a piece of art.
However, it is important to note that some artistic manifestations have a direct physical function. For instance, if we picture the earliest human settlements; their weaponry; tools, and cave paintings we will find they all share a symbolic function as well as a direct function. Their paintings were crude depictions of the hunt, and they used them as a way to harness the power of the prey. Their tools had a symbolic function imposed over their physical usefulness, as a way to imbue them with power and facilitate their work. That is a trend we still see in modern objects, such as scepters and crowns. Objects of daily use that also relate to a ritual function.
As men developed, they wanted their objects to resemble not only something beautiful and pleasing, but useful. That is why decoration; design and architecture holds a prominent place in the story of mankind. Mere function and physicality do not fulfill men’s spiritual wishes; that is why art holds such an important position in our society, and in our cultur…
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