What are the Functions of Art?

Can you think of any befitting definition of art – whether yours or of someone else, preferably a renowned artist? Have you ever considered reflecting upon the functions of art?

Do you think these definitions can give the A-Z of art and its infinite mystery? 

It can be a very challenging task to give an encompassing definition of art.

Over the years, various definitions of art have been dropped by philosophers and celebrated artists. But as much as these definitions are impressively expressive, they are personal conceptions of art with walls of limitation. .These definitions of art given by different scholars are like tips of an iceberg. 

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Art is more than what you or anyone could imagine.

It is like an onion embedded with layers upon layers of mystery.

Art always has something tremendous up its sleeves. 

Just when you think you’ve unraveled it all, you’ll be stunned by another discovered wonder. And the cycle of surprises keeps rolling on and on endlessly.

Deep and beyond description by words, art has no universal definition. But one thing is universal about it – everyone is inherently conscious and aware of its indispensable function. 

Art functions in every sphere of human existence.

Everything about human life – happiness, aging, marriage, nature, conflicts, fashion – can be found in the endless world of art. It is the portal through which we express ourselves.

Remove art from existence and the human race is punctured with deep chasms of emptiness. Chasms were fillable by nothing else but art.

We’ll be checking out ten functions of art in the next section. Shall we? Let’s go!

  1. Art is the best means of expression.

We love to express our life experiences with others. We are naturally designed to express our minds to our close ones, friends, or spouse. This is what makes us humans. Communication is a key characteristic of humans. Any normal human being living in a society has something to express to the world around him. Art is a powerful medium of expression. 

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With art, there’s no limitation to means of expression. A husband can go beyond the conventional cliché of expressing his love for his wife simply by words. He can express his love with music, painting, or sweet-smelling flowers accompanied by oral poetry. How romantic! That is the expressive power of art!

  1. Art creates beauty.

Something differentiates art from other things in the world. That thing is beauty. Art is the heart of beauty itself. Whatever is beautiful, appealing, attractive, and gorgeous has signatures of art. 

It almost will sound like a crime to you, seeing an artwork without some exceptionality or some kind of beauty that triggers emotions within you. By default, art is naturally expected to be beautiful. 

We are lovers of beauty. We appreciate the beauty of nature, adore the grace of gazelles, marveled by the speed of cheetah… The list goes on. We love everything beautiful about the world. Art recreates these things for us via painting, music, sculpture, and poetry. 

  1. Art is a form of knowing yourself.

The great philosopher, Socrates, once said that a life unexamined is not worth living, hence the reason he said: “know thyself.” 

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Our quest for survival is paralleled with the goal of discovering our potentials and capabilities. How well do you know yourself? Do you know what you are capable of doing? We are often lost in the maze of confusion, not knowing what we can do. This can be quite frustrating. 

Do you want to know yourself? Give art a trial!  It is an excellent means of knowing what you can do. You never can tell, you can be next to Leonardo da, Vinci! 

  1. Art gives a feeling of freedom. 

Freedom is desired by every human; especially internal freedom where your mind is at ease and free from distractions, stress or worries of the world. There is no threshold that evokes the feeling of freedom as art. 

Many people gifted with art skills are truly happy not when they buy the latest car in town or living a luxurious life. What truly makes them happy is the freedom they enjoy in art. A painter’s joy is inexpressible as he pictures a landscape and realizes it through his hands dancing on his drawing board. He is absolutely free! That is the freedom art gives. Rarefied freedom, impossible to buy. It can only be felt. 

  1. Art is a means of telling great stories – The most important function of art!

William Butler Yeast, in his compelling and “prophetic” poem: The Second Coming,  gives an account of the imminent chaos and trouble associated with modernism. Written shortly after the first World War, the poet foresees the second World War even before it was fought.

The greatest stories in human history have been told through the “mouth” of art. Having known this, it is not an exaggeration to firmly say such stories will continue to be told by art until time ceases. 

Great playwrights like William Shakespeare, Bernard Shaw, and Henrik Ibsen have moved hearts with their stories. These dexterous writers made use of art as a means of expressing themselves through stories. 

  1. Art helps in validating sorrows. 

Human experiences are like a field of roses mixed with thorns. Life is not a journey with smooth rides all through. There are rough roads too. 

We experience both happy and sorrowful moments. Life is like a two-sided coin – a world of opposites infused together as one. Art does not appeal to the happy moments of human life alone, it also delves into our sorrow; validating it and making us accept it as the reality of life. This is what makes us human. 

  1. Art is an act of courage. 

We often care a lot about what others say or feel about us. This feeling affects our message and thoughts. In a bid to avoid arousal of indifferences or sentiments from others, people mitigate their message, not expressing themselves as intended. 

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A genuine art cares less about what others will say. It simply expresses what is in the mind. Most likely, the reason you’ll be touched by the uniqueness of a great art piece is its originality. The originality and authenticity it carries will compel your admiration and awe. Through art, you can courageously express your mind without straining your message with biases. The virtue of courage is an underlying essence of art.

  1. Art gives you hope. 

Art is beyond an object of beauty for just admiration. It is a powerful elicitor of hope. We need hope to survive. Art livens you up with hope. 

You can feel discouraged and hopeless sometimes. The world can appear gloomy and dark. But your world can be lit up in hope again at the sight of beautiful sculpture, painting or music. And in an inexplicable way, happiness is restored in you, giving you hope for the future. 

  1. Art influences the mind of people. 

Imagine a political campaign. The political candidate, as well as words in the posters and flyers for the campaign, will be presented in such ways that will target the minds of the electorates, with an aim to influencing their decision. 

Art penetrates deep into the human soul, establishing facts and instilling impressions in powerful ways. Through entertainment or awareness, people’s viewpoints about something can be changed using art. 

  1. Art is the mouthpiece of culture.

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The efficacy of art in culture is made explicit in Abby Willowroot’s words: “Art speaks the soul of its culture.” 

Culture reflects the total way of life of any group of people. Folktale, music, fashion, and language are some salient indexes of culture. If you are familiar with the culture of Australians, for example, it means you know several important things about their way of life. 

Nothing expresses culture deeply as art does. It is an embodiment of culture. Everything in culture is expressed through art. This makes art to be the mouthpiece of culture. 


Art contributes to our lives in many ways. Its functions are innumerable as it as become an integral part of our existence. Art has and will always function as an inseparable companion of humanity, lighting our paths with its aestheticism. 

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