General Question

marinelife's avatar

Why do humans make art?

Asked by marinelife (62485points) March 7th, 2009

From earliest times, people have made art: images in paint or some form of drawing, images in statues, music, jewelry.

Animals do not seem to feel the need to make art. It may be one of the things that separates man from the animals.

To what do you attribute man’s drive, nay, need to make art?

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28 Answers

Bagardbilla's avatar

… because we cannot be gods?

marinelife's avatar

In the wild?

Allie's avatar

@Marina Are humans wild?

Blondesjon's avatar

Free time. When you are an animal in the wild you have to concentrate on surviving 24 hours a day. You don’t have time to look beyond your own day to day existence.

As human beings we have plenty of free time to contemplate philosophy, religion, and art.

marinelife's avatar

In Florida on spring break they are.

But yes, I meant in the sense that whatever our environs (which we adapt), humans make art, whereas an elephant in the wild will not.

I do not mean to diminish the feats of the elephants (who are wonderful) in your link.

Pcrecords's avatar

Art is communication, art is the bearing of the soul, art attracts and creates our social groupings. Even if you don’t personally create art your taste will help people see the real you. Art is a peacock displaying it’s feathers it defines us, it projects our persona, it is beauty and wonder.

Dog's avatar

Imagine a world without art.

Boxes, books, walls every surface dull, plain and boring. Humans enhance their surroundings. Not content to sleep on dirt they create beds. Not content to walk they invent cars.

As humans we want to be stimulated or comforted by our surroundings.

Art stimulates and/or beautifies the world.

cookieman's avatar

See Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Step 1: Physiological (breathing, food, water, sex, etc.)

Step 2: Safety (physical and emotional)

Step 3: Love and/or belonging

Step 4: Esteem

Step 5: Self Actualization (morality, creativity, lack of prejudice, etc.)

As @Blondesjon aluded to, most animals don’t get past Step 3.

To create art is a luxury.

laureth's avatar

While other animals were busy evolving big teeth or sharp claws or incredible speed because it helped them survive, we evolved a huge brain for much the same reason. However, during the downtime between meals, claws and teeth just sit there whereas with a big brain, there’s a lot of extra CPU cycles just waiting to be put to use. So art happened. A brain at rest starts thinking about things, and a brain kept busy thinking about things is a more useful brain in the long run.

Plus, the caveman with the spruced up bachelor cave probably got more dates.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I suspect human creativity also has to do with the relative size and structure of our brains in comparison with other animals. What started as a capability to make survival easier lent itself to other forms of creativity: flint-knapping and other tool-making, the discovery that rapping two stones together in a certain way over bits of wood will make a warm fire and the discovery that if you put a seed in the ground, food will grow.

It seems to follow that these bursts led to other uses of our brain power to imagine and to create in ways that became art. Who knows, maybe cave paintings were “instruction manuals” on a tribe’s manner of hunting that worked for them, and we take them today as works of art!

Or what @laureth said. :)

augustlan's avatar

@Allie I’d heard of elephants painting before, but that second link was absolutely wonderful! I was in awe.

wundayatta's avatar

Humans need to communicate to express ideas and to enable cooperation. Communication requires symbols, expressed in sounds or visually. Every effort at communication requires creativity in speaking or writing, whatever. Humans make art all the time, because it is necessary.

Sometimes there are things we want to express that are very difficult to express. These are usually esoteric ideas about spirituality or beauty. Because words are difficult to use to capture these ideas, we use other symbols. We call these collections of symbols paintings or sculpture or stories or music or dance.

Sometimes there are people who spend all their time working at symbol creation and manipulation. If they don’t do anything else, and they become very expressive in whatever means they use to manipulated symbols, we call them artists.

However, we are all artists, because we all need to communicate. Some of us do it much better than others. However, it is not an esoteric practice. It is something we all have to do, and without it, I’d venture to say humans would not have survived as a species.

invic's avatar

Basically restating what others have said, it is the way which we humans, who have transcended the wilderness and have evolved thus far as to dwell in a realm in which we have multiple ways of releiving oursleves, can express our inner most emotions and thoughts through visual techniques.
As Daloon said: “Sometimes there are things we want to express tahte are very difficult to express. These are usually estoric ideas about sprirituality or beauty.”
No way in hell could i have said it better myself.
There are images in our hearts, minds, and souls that are at times, “inexpressable,” yet art is the only way to bring the said things out. The same can be said with music, since it is an art in its own existing in the harmonical and melodeous dimension which our ears bear as ecstasy.
We create art in order to show the world, as well as ourselves, what “our personal sense of beauty is.
Although i am still a novice in the art realm that is my assumption

LostInParadise's avatar

In addition to what has already been said, we also make art because we have an aethetic sense. We appreciate patterns and symmetries. There is much beauty in the world, but much of what we see and hear has a random quality. In art, we can give the world an added level of organization and harmony.

RedmannX5's avatar

To create beauty, simple as that

mij's avatar

Some birds of the feathered kind, make elaborate collections of found things to attract opposites for mating, I guess that makes it Art in a sense.
Maybe it’s a love/affection thing, or just the old ” look at me ” I want some recognition!
I’m thinking Bower Birds?

rooeytoo's avatar

Because it feels good!

nebule's avatar

to get out of the bottom of the mushroom

Pcrecords's avatar

It’s interesting someone mentioned books as part of an artless world… Made me wonder would any written language exist without cave paintings?

Grim's avatar

(sorry if somebody already said this, im a little too out of it to read all the comments)
Art is just another form of expression, for me a pencil is like an extension of my arm. And how I use it can be just as effective in communicating my feelings as speech. When people talk we use visual ques via gesticulation, if you look at a pencil as an extension of my arm I’m just bringing gesticulation to a whole new level.
as to what motivates us “artists” to perform, I would say we are just compelled by our curiosity to test any form of self expression.
but thats just what I got out of it… hehe

Pcrecords's avatar

I think it’s fair to say. All answers are valid. Small artworks in there own right.

bigbanana's avatar

@cprevite I would argue that art is not a luxury, rather a nescessity. I have read Maslow and agree with much of what he has to say, however I think art is vital to human expression (think cave drawings, heirglyphics etc). I believe art can become a part of anyones life, every day with a little effort. ie: a painting on a wall, a photo on your fridge, doodling while on the is just placing it in context. I think doing art for a living is a gift, possibly a luxury for some, but for me it has been a harder path than working 9–5, shutting down at days end and not thinking about my day. My day is 24/7 and rarely does my mind shut down, this can be exhausting, while also rewarding. Wait what was the question again?

cookieman's avatar

@bigbanana: This is all true, but…did the cave-folk consider it art at the time it was created or was it simply a means to communicate?

bigbanana's avatar

I think that I am addressing this more from the necessity point of view. Art comes from us so early on. Think of kids messing with crayons and finger paints. I think it is essential to us as humans to express parts of our being that cannot be communicated with words, like music for example. Art is a language that is natural to man and should be part of all of our everyday lives, obviously to differing degrees. I think art does communicate as you point out and for that reason is vital. I believe what comes out of me in artistic expression, changes with the medium, (which is wholly another topic) however it is all parts that I cannot access with words. My hope is that as we evolve as a planet, art will take on a more prominent /dominant role in our lives. To love and to enrich, to teach, to grow, to express, to communicate, to share the common experience of being human.

cookieman's avatar

@bigbanana: I completely agree with what you say at the end (“My hope is that…”).

But that very evolution you refer to would simply be taking us (society) further up Maslow’s scale.

bigbanana's avatar

@cprevite Yes, I guess it would in part, however it is my hope that even without the lower parts of Maslows scale being attained, that art would still find its place…at every level. Sense?

azusenal's avatar

Art is expression of oneself. It is a form of communication and it shows feelings of the individual that is creating the art.

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