Does art have a social role?

Arts , Editorial Articles Feb 25, 2016 No Comments

This can seem a silly question: Art having a social role? What’s the relevance of such a question? Is it its role to have “a role”? And social in more! We can also add “why on earth ART does need to have any function, any pursuit, any other meaning than itself?!”

Well, for the last one, we can remind that “art” as we understand it is a 19th century creation (especially the myth of the tortured artist in his (because obviously, a “she” cannot be an artist! At very best just an amateur!…grr!) ivory tower). And every work of art created before the 20th century, we must see, at best an expression of social status (and quite always wealth of the owner) but often items with religious or power statement (kings, popes,…) purposes.

So, what? It would be very presumptuous of me to answer to this main question by a “yes” or “not”. But I can say that, outside galleries, art is holding a social role by the fantastic work made by museums, associations, galleries, venues and community centres. Indeed, we can find in every Culture centres programmes “artistic activities”, “discoveries by art” or workshops that use an artistic form or collection for social purposes. It can be a “classic” initiation to History of art, artistic practices, culture of a civilisation or country discovery, mental health development or positive social insertion. These “activities” can have a so huge impact that they take a proper role in the life (and I insist on “life”) community, defining the living environment of an entire region and community/ies.

So, maybe “the art” has not an intrinsic (social or not) role but as common and polymorph object, it’s definitely a subject that people use and shape for different purposes, included very successful social link, a community concrete.

Helene Herniou

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