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The Big Question: Why is art important?

Why is art important?
Khan Academy video wrapper
Why Is Art Important?See video transcript
What does art mean to you? What makes art important, and why? From 13th - 27th May we will be exploring questions around the importance of art and opening up the floor to you. This is your invitation to share your thoughts with Tate and the Khan Academy community and tell us what you think about art.
Post your thoughts, questions, and answers to the question “Why is art important?” in the Questions section below. Share a work of art that has special significance to you, or show us a creative work that you made. Tell us a story about art that made you feel, think, or see the world in a different way. Or just explain why, how, and for whom you think art is important. If you're on Twitter don't forget to share your thoughts with the #whyart hashtag.
Every comment and contribution will have the chance to be included in our grand wrap-up on May 28th, which will showcase some of the answers and ideas posted here. Contributions will be welcome beyond the 28th, but won't be included in the wrap-up.
Your moderator (Camille @ Tate) will be here to prompt, guide, and share throughout the two weeks. Anyone and everyone can participate, so don’t be shy!

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user Lori Wolf Grillias
    I only have to go to work each day and watch the children's face light up when my art cart rolls into their classroom. No words necessary. The real question to me is why did we ever think we had the right to take away the arts from children's lives?
    (13 votes)
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  • ohnoes default style avatar for user angelddaz
    Art is important because it is what brings meaning and purpose to humanity. When I think of art, two subjects that frequently come up are love and death. Both of these subjects are beautifully taken on by Beethoven in his 5th symphony. The 5th is one of the most beautiful stories of love and death every written. The "Fate" motif, or repeated musical idea, of "dun dun dun duuun" signifies the in-escapability of death. The motif is ever-present in the symphony much like death is an ever present subject in life. Despite death or because of death, the symphony delves into the most beautiful melodies stemming from a simple 4 note pattern. The 4th movement is a triumph over fate and symbolizes a triumph of human will! That death or fate will not overpower us but rather, it must be accepted into the fold of life.

    The common story of struggle is what defines us all. As Nietzsche said (paraphrase), to live is to suffer. Art is communication of this common story that can brings us all together as humans. Art is important because other humans are important and it allows us to understand each other.
    (13 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user Camille @ Tate
      What a lovely example, thank you for sharing it. Beethoven's 5th symphony is a hallmark of great art for many people and your explanation certainly casts light on why that is the case!

      Listening to music can be a powerful experience, both individually and communally -- do you think visual art can have the same transformative power?
      (4 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user liz.masterman
    Expression in pictorial form is one of the fundamental forms of human self-expression and communication (I think David Hockney may also have said something like this in an interview with James Naughtie on the Radio 4 Today programme last November).

    Leading on from that... Learning to slow down and look closely and mindfully at a work of art (whether static or animated) can help to open up our minds and our imaginations (so, it's 'therapeutic' in an informal way). It doesn't matter whether a person just looks at the work for its subject matter, or whether they view it for its formal properties (composition, form, tone, colour etc.). What's important is that they are receptive to the possibility of an unexpected and exciting response that could take them in a different direction (or further in the same direction) aesthetically, intellectually, emotionally and/or spiritually.
    (6 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user Halogent1
      Humans are hardwired to prioritise and decode visual stimulus. Art allows us to develop new ways of thinking and expressing what might not be understood through the printed or spoken word alone. Ambiguity and interpretation can empower the viewer, so art can sometimes be transformative and even dangerous at times.
      (5 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user guitarsean
    STEM makes the modern world we live in. From smartphones to spacecraft, medicine to the internet. The arts are what make living in this modern world worthwhile.
    (5 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user Peter deSanctis
      More importantly, since "art" is in the eye of the beholder, it has more to do with the appreciation of the creative instinct within all of us. I see art in a great new dish, a glimpse of an urban skyline , a haiku or a Still painting...all equally valid in my thinking.
      Teaching art should encourage the student to find their own connection to the creative urge within.
      (2 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Pablo E. Klappenbach
    I´d rather answer this in more than one way. For me, art is a testimony of the human condition. It encompasses all our struggles, joy, tantrums, sadness, love, beauty, hatred, questions; every aspect of humanity, of the way in which we perceive our world can be expressed artistically.

    But it also bares a burden; the tragic distance between our most inner self and its materialization, that vast universe between facts and metaphors; maybe that´s the reason why we keep producing art forms despite the feeling that arises every now and then stating that everything has already been said and done. We, as a species, simply cannot conceive our lives out of art, we struggle each an everyday to close that tragic gap, although we know it an impossible task. Art will always be metaphorical, but ultimately, it does not matter. And that exact fact, for me, is beauty, plain and simple.

    We all live in art, even if we are not aware of. We fight our battles, ask our questions, and of course, right or wrong, read the universe in our unique an particular way. Because art is no distraction, and it is not so a matter of importance. it´s life itself. Like love or death. Impossible to endure with out it, indissoluble from human kind.

    This reminded me of a short epigraph I read in Borges once.

    "As to an occasional copy of verses, there
    are few men who have leisure to read, and
    are possessed of any music in their souls,
    who are not capable of versifying on some
    ten or twelve occasions during their natu-
    ral lives: at a proper conjunction of the
    stars. There is no harm in taking advantage
    of such occasions."

    FitzGerald, En una carta a Bernard Barton (1842).

    Thank you for introducing such an interesting subject.

    Pablo Klappenbach
    Buenos Aires
    (4 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user cgalian65
      My name is Claudia and I am a teacher and researcher in the School of Education at University of São Paulo, Brazil. I'm developing a research about the knowledge that is essential to compound the curriculum at the Elementary school. One of the matters that I'm dealing with is Art. So, I asked to an artist, at the University, a teacher in the School of Education and to two teachers at the Elementary school: Why art is important in the school curriculum? What are the main concepts that can characterize the Art? Each one of them pointed up different aspect to answer my questions. But, in a general way, that is something less "obvious" than thinking about the relevance and the "why" of Science or Maths.I think we have to face the challenge to claim the focus on Art in the school. Particularly, I think that Art can make me feel part of a big group. I can notice that others felt similar things, in different periods and under different circumstances. It's wonderful to feel that an artist did something that I recognize as a common way of dealing with life, death, fears, certainties, doubts, etc.
      (5 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Kelli Kennedy
    I'll never forget my humanities class in university. There I was taught that the study of humanities is the study of cultures through the art they produced. So traditions, beliefs, values and lifesytle...all shine forth through what we produce as art, whether we know it or not. Architecture, music, dance, painting, comedy, theater....all quintessentially reveal the culture of people.
    (5 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user patricia villanueva
    As an artist and art educator... all i can say is that art makes us feel. It reflects our humanity back to us and we can see ourselves and what we are, flesh and soul. Its what makes us human. So why we keep trying to take it away from the public and make it unreachable and a luxury when everyone should be able to feel that connection?
    (5 votes)
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    • female robot grace style avatar for user Loren C. Sofia
      I am an artist and art student... I agree with what you say and art also makes me think. Art allows me to visualize our past and see new opportunities that I or humanity can create in the future. Art will always be apart of us even if some of it seems out of reach to some of the public. With organizations like Khan Academy and the growth of technology people have more access even if indirectly so. Regardless, art can always be created by anyone at anytime and even the smallest influence can have the utmost impact. We all have the ability to create something out of nothing. I believe ART is the soul of humanity.
      (1 vote)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Lorenzo Ettore Perra
    Art is important because it makes you feel beauty of freedom. It is free expression of human mind and senses. An expression which is not subdue to any kind of utility, if you don't desire; an expression which only aims at her own existence, at her own beauty.
    (4 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user Camille @ Tate
      Thanks Lorenzo, great answer -- your response made me think of what jh.nutt posted previously, and the idea that art has its own value that doesn't depend on providing usefulness or utility. So do you think that art can always be made for its own sake? Or is it important that art is made to serve a purpose, like to provide value or to tell a story?
      (3 votes)
  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Martina Maria
    Art is important to me personally and emotionally. I think that art is forgiving and the imperfections within it is what makes it truly beautiful. I personally have a confidence problem and when I get my pencil in my hand and im actually focused I am able to create anything. I never had the opportunity to go take art electives or art classes in high school to learn all the fancy terminology and techniques but I proved to myself that I can create something beautiful to portray to the world. I learned how to put my emotions into my art and express myself since im not always good with my words. while in a treatment facility and trying to get accepted to college I was informed I had to create a portfolio and I was stressing about it and freaking myself out. Now a staff member came up to me and shared her work with me and told me one key thing; you don't need to get all fancy using paint, colored pencils, crayons, markers, chalk, or any other medium, except just your pencil and that's the best medium you can use because pencils are forgiving and you can fix your mistakes. Art impacted my life to filter my thoughts and my emotions and to get out what I was feeling. And because I have low confidence when I finish a project I look at it and always think to myself like WOW I DID THAT nobody else did. My point is that art is important for the soul, the spirit and the voiceless....
    (3 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Arvin Robles
    personality! #ART expresses identity .
    (3 votes)
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