What is an artwork

Definition of an artwork

An artwork is a physical object that may have an aesthetic and/or conceptual value. This could be a painting, a sculpture, a photograph, an installation, a drawing, a collage, etc. Some works fall beyond the scope of traditional art: this is the case of land art, where the work is made directly in the landscape; performance art which involves an artist's actions in front of a live audience; or readymades, where artist gives ordinary objects the status of an artwork.

Artworks can be created with a very wide range of techniques, and many artists even combine several techniques and mediums in their works. many artists today tend to combine several techniques and mediums in their artworks. A photograph, for example, may be taken using a film camera, a digital camera, or a Polaroid camera. An artwork is often affiliated with an art movement, a style of art with a specific aim or philosophy followed by artists for a period of time. Claude Monet's paintings are associated with Impressionism, a movement that arose in the second half of the nineteenth century. The history of art is made up of hundreds of art movements. Other examples of significant movements include cubism, surrealism and abstract expressionism.

The evolution of the concept of an artwork

For a long time, it was thought that an artwork had to be a unique piece created or designed by an artist (whether a painter, a sculptor, a photographer, or an draughtsman) which should reflect the artist's technical abilities. Several artistic movements, including readymades and conceptual art, have dispelled this idea. Perhaps, the most iconic example is Marcel Duchamp's artwork Fontaine (Fountain), an industrially made urinal signed R. Mutt.

Similarly, for a long time, an artwork was meant to be a object of a lasting nature. Today, this is no longer the case. The last few decades especially have seen the development of performance art as a form of visual art as well as a growing number of ephemeral artworks and installations.