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What is artwork? 

The question may sound bizarre. However, it regularly arises in relation to art and in particular in relation to contemporary artistic creation. Due to the multiplicity of works of art, it seems difficult to find something in common that would justify giving them the same name.
What do a Picasso painting have in common with Christo's packaged works? Nothing in appearance. Yet all works of art have three elements in common. What is a work of art? How to buy art? Let's take a closer look at what defines a work of art.


  1. The essence of an artwork
  2. What is art?
  3. The genius of the artist behind the work of art
  4. The originality of a work of art
  5. The exemplarity of a work of art
  6. The aesthetic value of a work of art
  7. The disappearance of the aesthetic ideal in contemporary art
  8. The work of art expresses the artist's relationship to the world

The essence of a work of art 

How to define the essence of a work of art? Is it enough to say that this is a beautiful object that expresses something, that emanates from the genius of an artist and which aims to create an impression on the public? In fact, certain elements common to all works of art allow us to come closer to a definition:

A work of art does not have a utilitarian vocation

A work of art is the product of human activity (the artist) with a non-utilitarian vocation, that is, it is selfless.


A work of art has an effect on its audience

 The work of art is aimed at an audience on which it produces certain effects or arouses emotions mainly related to its (subjective) beauty.

A work of art stands out when it comes to its end


The work of art is an object in relation to other objects in the world. A work of art seems to speak or speak to its viewers. In this sense, it refers to something other than itself.
A work of art has its own end in itself, that is, its primary function is not to satisfy a need (unlike a craft, industrial or technical object).

The essence of a work of art 
what is a work of art and how to buy art

What is art?

The word art is found in a large number of common expressions which are unrelated to one another: great art, having the art and the manner, the art of living, etc. This word therefore makes it possible to name the cause and the origin of things produced by man as opposed to natural things. So not everything that is done by nature has been done by art. The end of art is the beautiful.

The genius of the artist behind the work of art

The genius of the artist is a talent that is not a skill that can be learned or memorized. It is a natural gift, an ability to produce or create something.
To have genius means to be able to do something without having learned how to do it first. In other words, to be genius is to be able to create something original (which does not imitate something that already exists) without having learned how to do it and outside the known rules.
If the artist creates without knowing exactly what he is doing, it is because he is inspired by his genius. His work therefore escapes all premeditation. This is what makes it original. As a spectator of his own work, the artist discovers his creation and constantly judges, corrects and guides the creative activity.

The originality of a work of art

The production resulting from artistic genius is original since it does not proceed from known or taught rules.
The originality of a work of art also means that there is nothing comparable among the objects already known.

The exemplarity of an artork

The work of art produced by the artist's genius is not an imitation, but it will be imitated and will be used to judge the value of other works. In this sense, exemplarity corresponds to the aesthetic value of the artwork which will be an example for other artists.

The aesthetic value of an artwork

How to define the aesthetic value of an artworkt?
The beauty of the work and its expressive or representative power are its value, and therefore its exemplarity. The beauty of the work touches, moves and arouses emotion in the viewer.
 situation of works of an atworks
artwork hanging on the wall


The disappearance of the aesthetic ideal in contemporary art


The previously prevailing aesthetic ideal disappears with contemporary art.
This introduces a break in the history of art. Contemporary works of art destabilize traditional categories of aesthetics.
According to contemporary artists, the beauty of a work is a subjective judgment. It appeals to some while it displeases others.
This is why opinions are often divided on works of contemporary art. The judgment of taste assumes no knowledge of the object.
The artistic approach no longer goes hand in hand with the aesthetic approach in contemporary art.

The work of art expresses the artist's relationship to the world


In short, the work of art does not express the artist's emotions as such, but rather expresses the relationship to the world as the artist experiences it under the influence of his affects. It indicates neither the world nor the pure subjectivity of the artist, but a relationship experienced with the world under the influence of this emotional life.

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