Art is essentially the most profound expression of human creativity. As difficult to define as to assess, given that each artist chooses himself the rules and parameters, it can be said, however, that art is the result of choosing an environment, a set of rules for using this environment, and a set of values that determine what deserves to be expressed in that environment to induce a feeling, an idea, or an experience, in the most efficient way possible for that environment. By his way of expression, art can be seen as a form of knowledge.
In a broad sense, art means any activity which is based on knowledge, practice, perception, imagination and intuition. In a strict sense, it is added to the above the lack of functionality (practice), knowledge, aesthetics.
Britannica Online defines art as “modes of expression that use skill or imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others.”
The definition and evaluation of art has become especially problematic since the early 20th century. Richard Wollheim distinguishes three modes of access: Realistic, where aesthetic quality is a value independent of any human view; objectiv, where aesthetic quality is also an absolute value, but dependents on general human experience, and the relativist access, where aesthetic quality is an absolute value, but depends on, and varies with the human experience of different individuals. An object can be characterized according to intent, or lack thereof, of its creator, regardless of its purpose or function. For example a cup, which can be used as a simple container object, can be considered art if intended aesthetic object. Also, a painting may be deemed craft object (so no art object), if it is a mass product.
The nature of art has been described by Richard Wollheim as “one of the most elusive of the traditional problems of human culture.” It was defined as a vehicle for expression or communication of emotions and ideas, a means for exploring and appreciating formal elements for himself, and as mimesis or representation.
Leo Tolstoy identified art as an indirect means of communication between people.
Benedetto Croce and R. G. Collingwood advanced the idealist idea that art expresses emotions, and that the work of art therefore essentially exists in the mind of the creator.
Art theory has its roots in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and was developed in 20th century. art as mimesis has deep roots in the philosophy of Aristotle.