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The Value of Art

Enjoying artwork with my daughter at National Gallery of Canada

What exactly is it about works of art that can draw in a set of eyes, still a racing mind, and capture the heart of a single person or millions alike?

Regardless of the subject or style of art, the medium, the skill of the artist, lineage, history or age of a piece, there’s still a factor beyond these aspects that seem to create a sense of real value to someone admiring a piece of artwork.

What else, other than being pleasing to look at, could possibly make people voluntarily part with their money in exchange for painted paper and canvas, a sculpture of bronze, or take the time to visit art museums, galleries, and auctions?

In a word – Empathy.

The American dictionary defines empathy as:

  1. the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
  2. the imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself:
    By means of empathy, a great painting becomes a mirror of the self.

Empathy is the underlying component that can help explain my inquires above, and which offers a level of value to art that can not be measured.

Every piece of art carries with it, the artist’s intention of emotion and overall feel they’ve wanted to portray in the piece throughout the creative process. Within it’s brush strokes an art piece can convey a slurry of emotion, a specific feeling tone or general attitude. It may spark a memory or initiate a new insight.

The fact that humans have the innate ability to pick up on the feelings and energy of others is what allows an admirer to acquire the same emotions as the artist intended when spending time looking at and contemplating their work.

What a remarkable phenomenon empathy is; subtly relaying messages of emotion and attitudes from one person to another. By simply appreciating a work of art, empathy offers an opportunity to, imaginatively speaking, connect humans together.

In my opinion, that is the true value of art.

xo, Tanya

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