Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Response To The Question: What Good Is Art?

A couple of weeks ago, I asked readers to answer this question, “What Good is Art?” and received some wonderful responses. Now, it’s time to share my answer to the question.

Art, in its various forms, literature, music, film, photography, etc., is immensely valuable to the human soul. I honestly believe that it is what gives life meaning for a lot of people myself included. One might question this, saying, “What about God, or love, or the people you care about? Aren’t those things more important?” But you see, to me, art is a way to feel connected with the spiritual world. Even prayer, one could argue, is a form of it, and to be honest, certain music has made me feel closer to God than anything else ever could. As far as love and relationships, the painter Vincent van Gogh once said, "I tell you, the more I think the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people." I believe that he was right.

Although there are many different ways in which art can be meaningful, I believe that truly valuable art is significant for one of three reasons. It provides an escape, it teaches you something, or it helps allow you to heal.

Escape art is what we experience when we become so absorbed in a book or a film, in the lives of the characters or the story, that for a moment we are able to forget our own. It allows us to experience vicariously places, events, and emotions that we may never have felt otherwise. It helps us to forget, even if just momentarily, our own problems, struggles, and pain. I am a firm believer that escape art is good for the mind, good for the body, and especially good for the soul. It is sometimes almost like medicine to me, I honestly cannot imagine living without it.

Art also provides value when it teaches us something. Sometimes the lesson is obvious, other times we learn through stories or metaphors. Some art forces us to think about things in a completely new way or opens our minds to new perspectives or possibilities. Sometimes art has the ability to convey a message in a way that nothing else can, and has the ability to make all of us better, wiser, and more compassionate.

Last, but not least, art can help us to heal. We can pour our hearts into the creative process and turn suffering and painful experiences into something positive. Art isn't always about the end result; sometimes the value is in the making of it, the intense emotions it allows us to express, and the things we learn about ourselves in the process.


  1. I like your article, straightforward but very sincere, you can help a lot of people, I think of you to do this thing where the driving force.

  2. I think true art, no matter the genre, form, or delivery, is very philosophical. Every society in history has embraced art in some manner, and as Ayn Rand distinctly wrote "art (including literature) serves no practical, material end, but is an end in itself; it serves no purpose other than contemplation - and the pleasure of that contemplation is so intense, so deeply personal that man experiences it as a self-sufficient, self-justifying primary..." (The Romantic Manifesto)

    As you stated, art should also be considered very healing, it allows and enables a very unique creative process, perhaps unrivaled because it is so personal. I especially liked your entry here, I am looking forward to reading more.


  3. Tony, Some very good points you made here! I'm glad you enjoyed the blog. Thank you!

  4. Great read, I very much agree, especially when it comes to art healing. Thanks for sharing!

    Here are my two favorite quotes/commentaries concerning art; I believe you might find the first one particularly intersting:

    "Given what we have since learned about life in the Nazi camps, why would anyone in his right mind waste time and energy writing or playing music? There was barely enough energy on a good day to find food and water, to avoid a beating, to stay warm, to escape torture—why would anyone bother with music? And yet—even from the concentration camps, we have poetry, we have music, we have visual art; it wasn't just this one fanatic Messiaen; many, many people created art. Why? Well, in a place where people are only focused on survival, on the bare necessities, the obvious conclusion is that art must be, somehow, essential for life. The camps were without money, without hope, without commerce, without recreation, without basic respect, but they were not without art. Art is part of survival; art is part of the human spirit, an unquenchable expression of who we are. Art is one of the ways in which we say, "I am alive, and my life has meaning."
    - Dr. Karl Paulnack

    "Art is never finished, only abandoned".
    - Leonardo Da Vinci

  5. I really enjoyed your article- I play the piano- when I listen to classical
    music I feel closer to God- thanks for all your thoughtful articles-Eileen