What is the purpose of Art today?

Have you ever wondered “why do we need Art today?” – or even better “do we need Art today?” Art, in the 19th and even early 20th century used to be associated with everyday activities like ‘entertainment’: a gathering at some friend’s living room or a collector’s exhibition room or a gallery later on, a theatrical play maybe.
With books it is a bit different because people read for many reasons: information, stories, knowledge, science, you name it. But why do we go to a gallery of modern art or listen to music?

Is there place in our society and way of living for serious art? Obviously there is a socializing element when it comes to attending an artistic event but the need to socialize could be fulfilled by many different types of events. We certainly do not need serious art for that (and by serious art I mean the art that doesn’t exist only for pure entertainment reasons – and yes, serious art can be entertaining, and heavily so, but not for the sake of it).

Why do we need to ‘educate’ people in Art? In Ancient Greece, Art was related to mathematics and the beauty of symmetry, Music and Astronomy went hand in hand. But is it so today?

One could argue that art is the expression of the artist. An art work is a product of the artist’s imagination and technique, an admirable execution of transformation of thoughts and emotions encoded into a work that the audience needs to decode in order to be part of the ‘journey’ into the artist’s world. But is this necessary? Is it just for the sake of the artist’s fame and vanity or is there an overall gain for the society and the audience?

Today we all search for ‘the new thing’ in haute couture, in design, our palate is ‘trained’ ever so often in order to appreciate different delicacies, we train our body in order for it to be fit, but how do we ‘train’ our emotional ‘muscles’? What do we do in order to be more ‘sensitized’, more compassionate but also more ‘emotional’ (some people unfortunately think of that as a disadvantage…) other than watching romantic comedies or tragedies on the news?

I guess you have already ‘guessed’ the answer to the above hypothetical question: that’s the role of Art!: Art exists to make us be more sensitive, for us to be more ‘fit’ to identify our emotions, to understand them, not be scared by them, to acknowledge the important role they play to our existence on a physical but also holistic way, and to know how to ‘listen’ to our emotions, what to do with them, how to express them or not, how to live with an active, living, vibrant emotional self.

Most people when feeling a strong emotion either go wild or get scared. There are people who have killed their emotional self because of pain and others who ‘portray’ imaginary scenarios to everyday events searching for ‘emotional signs’ when there aren’t any, just to satisfy their need to be ‘emotionally moved’.

Emotional training is very important for our mental sanity and balance but unfortunately it is heavily overlooked. Psychologists often do not deeply understand art and they aren’t capable to practice it within their profession. And when we try to ‘understand’ art and ‘emotions’ with our rational mind, sometimes we get wrong results, we get lost in the translation.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any ‘emotional’ schools anywhere in the world, any teachers that can teach us how to train our inner, emotional self, how to open ourselves into our own secret world. We often expect a lover to do so… But how can he/she uncover what we are afraid of uncovering ourselves? And even if he/she is capable of doing so, will we accept what he/she finds?

Our only hope is again ‘Art’. This is the only path one can walk slowly, and alone.

As an artist, this is our role, our burden, our destiny.

As an audience, by following one’s favorite artist’s footsteps, one can be led somewhere deep in his own self.

This is the real purpose of Art. This is the most important service artists offer to society.

Art makes us more capable of being resonated to external stimulus without us either resisting or overreacting.

In today’s society where we allow space for all kind of training, all information and over-stimulation, do we allow some space, time and energy to the training of our emotional muscles? Do we increase our emotional strength? Do we allow enough emotions in us? If not, then allowing “more Art” in our lives could do the trick…