An artwork is a creative work, such as a painting, sculpture or photograph, that displays the personality, creativity, insight and technical mastery of its creator. Artwork also exhibits a sense of beauty and harmony, and often stimulates positive emotions in those who view it. Artworks can also serve as an expression of values, or represent social and historical events and trends.
An artist may create an artwork for many reasons, including to express a particular idea or emotion, or to make money. The purpose of the work is important to consider when determining its value. For example, an artwork that is intended to convey a message will likely be more valuable than one that is simply meant to be pleasing to the eye.
Artwork is a medium through which people can explore their own ideas, beliefs and perceptions, or express their views about important issues in society. It is an important form of communication, and it can be used to promote political change or inspire people to work together for the common good. Art is a powerful tool that can communicate across cultural boundaries and bring people together, even when they do not speak the same language.
The term “artwork” can refer to the ephemeral, non-tangible creations of the visual arts such as paintings, sculptures, and drawings, or it can refer to an object in the decorative or applied arts that is designed for aesthetic appeal but does not have any functional purpose. In addition to the fine arts, such objects include jewelry, many ceramics and much folk art. Artwork can also refer to a non-ephemeral photograph or film, or it can be a work of conceptual or installation art.
Conventional definitions of art have traditionally been based on the assumption that certain functions are essential to the category (for instance, expression and representation). Some of these functions are considered to be universal, such as beauty and harmony. Others are specific to a culture or time, such as support for the established order and also subversive messages that may challenge the status quo.
A neo-institutionalism approach, put forward by Roger Davies, holds that every picture, regardless of whether it has a traditional artistic function, is an artwork if it is syntactically dense, semantically rich and symbolically replete. This view is not without its critics.
In terms of the physical structure of an artwork, some important aspects to look for include its line quality, color, shape and space. Line quality refers to the way the line is drawn, whether it is bold or thin, and how well it relates to the other elements in the piece. Color can be used to add emotional resonance, as well as a sense of movement or direction. Space refers to the way the artist has used space in his or her creation, for instance, the use of negative and positive space or depth on a flat canvas or the use of three-dimensional space in a felt sculpture.