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April 7, 2017 / Congau

The Function of Art in a Culture

Culture is a collective expression of art. A culture is the sum of everything that has been created and cultivated within a people or a geographical area through generations. All customs and traditional artifacts that exist in any region have been introduced at some period in history and gradually developed until the present time. The first introduction was like a moment of artistic creation; innovating and inspired ideas. It didn’t happen instantly as it involved many people and needed the passing of time to mature, but it was like a gigantic extension of what happens in the microcosm of an artist’s mind.

A culture has no beginning. It is the result of a steady flow of innovation and cultivation, introduction and development.

The person of the artist is the most active and consciously moving principle in this continuous narration, for he is an individual and only individuals act in the proper sense of the word. Therefore the function of art in a culture is to be the driving force. Every single work of art is an expression of cultural vitality. Without it a culture would go stale and eventually disappear.

Preservation and innovation are intertwined processes. If a culture were reduced to mere copying of previous grandeur, it would soon become a museum and die. Of course that could never really happen for among living people some will always have the urge to create.

In the history of any culture, we observe the tide of artistic activity. Some periods and places have seen frantic movements of stunning proportions while many others seem to have been simmering quietly through the hidden pages of history. But the world today is a living witness of them all.

An artist is a bearer of culture, both as innovator and preserver. If he is deeply anchored in his native culture his creations serve directly to uphold it and strengthen it. If he is rather eclectic in his sources of inspiration or even an odd and independent occurrence, he is still an active keeper of cultural vitality.

To create is to cultivate.

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