Work of art

The terms work of art and artistic work are the names that are given to the product of a creation in the field of art, creation to which an aesthetic or social function is attributed. Given the classic identification of the concept of “art” with the fine arts, the concept of a work of art is usually restricted to the products of these: those of the plastic arts, called the major arts (painting, sculpture and architecture), literary works and the musical works.

The term masterpiece, in the context of art and aesthetics, is generally reserved for those works, whether artistic or simply technical, considered, for whatever reason, as particularly worthy of admiration. The origin of the term “masterpiece” goes back to the guilds of the Middle Ages in Europe, in reference to an artisan piece made by any aspirant who in the guild wanted to acquire the title of master. Over time this term became synonymous with magnum opus, that is, the work considered to be the most valuable among all those produced by an artisan, an artist or a writer. In the current sense of the term, “masterpiece” is increasingly used as a laudatory term, whether or not referring to the best work of an author (in this sense it is often admitted that an artist, a painter for example, has painted more of a masterpiece).

A specific art object is often considered within the context of an artistic movement or was artistic wider, as a genre, an aesthetic convention, a culture or based on a regional-national distinction. It can also be considered as part of the “set of the work” of an artist.

Apart from “work of art”, which may be used of any work regarded as art in its widest sense, including works from literature and music, these terms apply principally to tangible, portable forms of visual art:

An example of fine art, such as a painting or sculpture
An object that has been designed specifically for its aesthetic appeal, such as a piece of jewellery
An object that has been designed for aesthetic appeal as well as functional purpose, as in interior design and much 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 outsiders)
A non-ephemeral photograph, film or visual computer program, such as a video game or computer animation
A work of installation art or conceptual art.
Used more broadly, the term is less commonly applied to:

A fine work of architecture or landscape design
A production of live performance, such as theater, ballet, opera, performance art, musical concert and other performing arts, 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-music and written word-literature have similar issues and philosophies. The term objet d’art 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.

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 function. A singular art object is often seen in the context of a larger art movement or artistic era, such as: a genre, aesthetic convention, culture, or regional-national distinction. It can also be seen as an item within an artist’s “body of work” or oeuvre. The term is commonly used by: museum and cultural heritage curators, the interested public, the art patron-private art collector community, and art galleries.

Physical objects that document immaterial or conceptual art works, but do not conform to artistic conventions can be redefined and reclassified as art objects. Some Dada and Neo-Dada conceptual and readymade works have received later inclusion. Also, some architectural renderings and models of unbuilt projects, such as by Vitruvius, Leonardo da Vinci, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Frank Gehry, are other examples.

The products of environmental design, depending on intention and execution, can be “works of art” and include: land art, site-specific art, architecture, gardens, landscape architecture, installation art, rock art, and megalithic monuments.

Legal definitions of “work of art” are used in copyright law; see Visual arts § United States of America copyright definition of visual art.

Marcel Duchamp critiqued 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.

Artist Michael Craig-Martin, creator of An Oak Tree, 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 is physically present, but in the form of a glass of water.”

Some art theorists 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 has a physical existence as an “oil painting on canvas” that is separate from its identity as a 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 and non-representational abstract artists are examples. Some, such as the “Readymades” of Marcel Duchamp including his infamous urinal Fountain, are later reproduced as museum quality replicas.

There is an indefinite distinction, for current or historical aesthetic items: between “fine art” objects made by “artists”; and folk art, craft-work, or “applied art” objects made by “first, second, or third-world” designers, artisans and craftspeople. Contemporary and archeological indigenous art, industrial design items in limited or mass production, and places created by environmental designers and cultural landscapes, are some examples. The term has been consistently available for debate, reconsideration, and redefinition.

Masterpieces and history
With the demand for a ” masterpiece ” in which excellence in the domain of the trade was demonstrated, the guilds regulated since the Middle Ages the access of artists to the condition of teacher to the different arts, as in other crafts. The Renaissance, with the separation of arts and crafts, still maintaining the guild institutions, encouraged the emergence of complete artists who managed to succeed in more than one of the fine arts or in all of them, fulfilling the ideal of humanism (Leonardo da Vinci, Miguel Angel). In Spain, some artists managed to beteachers in the three major arts.

Forms and genres

In the literature:
literary work
Narration: fable, short story, art fairy tale, novella, novel, epic, versepos
Essay, aphorism

On stage:
Acting: Comedy, tragedy
Singspiel: opera, operetta, musical
Ballet, dance theater, contemporary dance
Cabaret: Cabaret (literary-political)

On the radio:
on screen and screen:
motion pictures
short film
experimental film
TV movie

In music: musical work
Opera, operetta, oratorio, cantata
Song, madrigal, chanson, couplet
Sonata, string quartet, symphony…

In the visual arts:
Plastic, sculpture, object art, collage, Décollage, Environment, Relief
Paintings, urban art, graffiti, graphics, printmaking, blurring
Photography, photomontage, poster art
Performance, Happening,

In public space
Fountains, monuments, memorials, portals (bronze door)
Action Art, Happening, Fluxus
Land art, installation, graffiti, street art


Contemporary art
In contemporary art the field of fine arts has expanded, and is once again incorporated into prestigious applied arts within the term design and also includes new arts: photography (with its successive technological variants and new supports, such as anime, cartoons, cinematography, television, manga, video art, videogames, etc.), comics and more difficult to classify manifestations, such as / performance, conceptual artand the so-called artistic installations.

Theoretical aspects
The purpose of aesthetics and art theory is to determine the nature, purpose and function of art, and thus, if the purpose of a work of art is to imitate nature (mimesis), to limit itself to being an object of art. beauty in itself (with the abstraction of any other reference), be a vehicle for the expression of the artist or communication with the viewer, provide some meaning or symbolism (in which semiotics and iconography are centered). The free nature of art (disinterested art orart for art) understands works of art as opposed to useful or practical objects, even though many of them have utilitarian functions (such as housing or disseminating political or religious messages).

Source from Wikipedia