Name and describe the six purposes of visual art. 

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kipling2448's profile pic

kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Generally speaking, there are five main functions of the visual arts: ceremonial, artistic expression, narrative, functional, and persuasive.  To these can be added “beauty,” in effect, the desire of the artist to simply create something beautiful with little or no thought to any significance beyond that objective. 

The ceremonial purpose of the visual arts is to celebrate or acknowledge an event or era, or to contribute to a ritualistic activity, such as a dance celebrating one of the season or a people’s flight from captivity or hunger.  One of the more common forms of ceremonial art is quilting, in which the patterns employed have some symbolic importance, or the use of ceremonial garb by Native Americans participating in a Pow Wow. 

Artistic expression refers to the desire or need on the part of the artist to express his or her emotions or feelings regarding a particular subject, including his- or herself.  Many abstract artists, for example, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko (although the latter rejected that categorization) are assumed to be expressing emotions or beliefs through their art, which lends itself to multiple interpretations and references to the known state of the artist’s being during the period in which the individual work of art was created.  Pablo Picasso’s art was known to be heavily influenced by his emotional state during specific periods of his life.

The narrative purpose is to tell a story or relate the history of one’s people.  Again, quilting is a classic form of the use of visual arts to communicate a story.  The African American community, in particular, uses patterns and colors in quilting to convey the history of slavery and emancipation.  Film, another form of visual art, is frequently used to tell a story, such as with Steven Spielberg’s film about the Holocaust, “Schindler’s List,” in which he used black and white photography to provide a documentary and more somber “feel” to the film, while incorporating rare color footage to illuminate a detail and lend significance to the item or individual in question.  David Lean used footage designed to simulate Russian winters in his film “Dr. Zhivago” that highlighted the enormous expanse of Russian plains covered in deep snow. 

Functional visual arts refer to structures or tools that are actually used in day-to-day activities yet are designed to be aesthetically pleasing in addition to being functional.  Architecture is the most prominent of the visual arts to incorporate functionality in designs.  Major architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, I.M. Pei and Frank Gehry are well-known historical figures for their success in combining art and function.  The buildings for which architects are commissioned to design obviously have to serve a function, whether it is as a museum, hospital, house, or theater, yet are expected to be unique and challenging.  Functional art can also be quite small, such as the coffee maker or fruit peeler designed to look futuristic while also performing their intended functions.

Persuasive art is intended to convey a message.  Advertising for television, billboards, magazine, and other visual media is a form of persuasive art, in that images are selected and manipulated in order to convey a message or subliminally influence a consumer’s decision.  A common form of persuasive visual art is propaganda posters and cartoons intended to denigrate a particular category of people, such as a racial or religious minority, or to foster emotional reactions among viewers for or against a particular political cause.  During the Cold War, the Soviet Union used propaganda to convince its own people as well as others of the righteousness of its cause and the moral and political depravity of U.S. policies.  Nazi Germany, under the authoritarian hand of Joseph Goebbels, used propaganda posters and newspaper editorial cartoons to demonize Jews and facilitate the inculcation of a culture of genocide.  Tobacco companies use this form of visual art to associate cigarette smoking with masculine virility and feminine mystique and power. 

A final purpose of the visual arts can be considered the conveyance of beauty.  While each of the major practitioners of expressionism had his own “back story,” much of the art produced by the French Impressionists like Claude Monet and Pierre-August Renoir simply represent beauty for its own sake.  While some expressionist painting, like that of Georges Suerat and Vincent Van Gogh, is more closely tied to the emotional states of the artists, much was intended to beautify the surroundings.  

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arrellbelle's profile pic

arrellbelle | Student, College Sophomore | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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The purposes of visual arts that I can think of is:

1.) To express oneself: So basically in terms of your own ideas, thoughts, dreams, etc.

2.) To convey culture: A lot of cultures have different art forms and they usually incorporate a little bit of their traditions and cultures into their pieces.

3.) To document time/event: Many people used visual arts as a form of documentation of time and place. For example, cave art showed that people were living in the area and showed what type of animals they hunted.

4.) To incorporate the elements and principles of art: These are guidelines that many artists like to use. For example, line, shape, color, tone, etc.

5.) To convey aesthetics: In other words, to appeal in a visual way.

6.) To tell a story: Many artworks do indeed tell a story and that is up to the viewer to interpret it. 

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laurto | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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The  purposes of visual art are:

  1. expression- to share an idea or belief 
  2. celebrate an event or idea
  3. decoration or ornamentation
  4. documentation- of history or any moment really

There weren't many I could find, hope this helped!

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fashionableb1 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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the main function of visual  art are:

1. beautifies an image

2. emphasis on curves, shapes and more

3. celebrate an event or idea

4. convey a message

5. artistic expression

jsohal48's profile pic

jasmine sohal | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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Art is a way of expression. A way to get a point across. A way to entertain and create. A treat for the eyes and a question for the mind. 

the definition of art by dictionary.com: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

art is the measure of the culture of a place. we learn a lot about a place and culture through their art. think of Egyptian art, Indian art, cave painting, Australian Aboriginal art. Without art, we would know a lot less about these cultures. you will find that the higher the education and economy in a place, the better the art. it is very, very important to us.

m agree to laurto which he posted 

The  purposes of visual art are:

  1. expression- to share an idea or belief 
  2. celebrate an event or idea
  3. decoration or ornamentation
  4. documentation- of history or any moment really

main functions of the visual arts: ceremonial, artistic expression, narrative, functional, and persuasive . and yes we can add beauty to it 

There weren't many I could find, hope this helped!

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