Functions, Value and Roles in the Art World

The Meaning of Art
What purpose does art serve and Why do we create it?


The function depends on the context.
according to the text Living With Art, Getlein, is the personal and social circumstances surrounding the making, viewing and interpreting of a work of art; the varied connections of a work of art to the larger world of its time and place.

# 1 Personal functions-
• to share the artists’s point of view or experience
• to communicate thoughts
• for self-expression
• for personal therapy
• for self-gratification
• to give pleasure to the viewer
• to provide an aesthetic experience
• to entertain
• to have no meaning at all (art for art’s sake – see themes)

#2 Physical functions-
• to perform some service (often crafts and industrial design fall under this category such as ceramics, textiles, architecture, commercial products...)

#3 Social functions-
• for political purposes
• to debate
• to depict social conditions

• to document the world around us
• to promote social change
• for community purposes- public art (the murals)


According to the Institutional Theory of Art, "Painters make paintings, but it takes a representative of the art-world to make a work of art."
Who determines the value of art? Is it the artists, the public, or the art representatives?

Value= Money
Originals are more expensive(paintings, drawings)
Limited number of artworks i.e. editions are less expensive (prints)

Value= Influence
Art begets art. Value resides in how much influence art has over artists in future
generations-- lasting power.

Value= Personal Connection
Art is worth more when one can connect to it. The artwork allows us to feel with the artist or evokes emotion within ourselves.

Value= Drama
Artworks are valued more highly when we take an interest in the artists lives.
Examples: Van Gogh- cut his ear off

Artfully Insane
Lautrec- spent time in an asylum, alcoholic


Frieda Kahlo- lived much of her life in bed because of a terrible accident, she was a player in the mexican revolution

Bio and Images
Ana Mendieta- perfomance artist who took photos of her acts to preserve the ideas – questionable suicide

"25 years ago, on September 8, 1985, celebrated feminist body artist Ana Mendieta fell 34 floors to her death from the window of her Greenwich Village apartment. The only other person with her at the time was her husband of only eight months, prominent minimalist sculptor Carl Andre. Arrested and charged with second-degree murder, Andre's three-year legal struggle culminated in a trial by a judge rather than by a jury, a rarity in murder cases. Evidence was suppressed due to sloppy police and prosecutorial work, and ultimately, Andre was acquitted of all charges related to her death in 1988."

A Death in the Art World

Well known Artists often become “brand names."
Art and artists become a commodity and the name is what sells, i.e. Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso.

Roles in the Art World
The role of the Curator:
A curator of an exhibition is the person who is in charge of organizing it. The curator decides which artists and what works will be featured. He or she titles or names the exhibition and chooses the theme or subject of the exhibition. 
The role of the Art Collector:
An individual or institution who accumulates works of art. Great museum art collections grew out of private collections owned by royalty, aristocracy, and the wealthy.

The role of the Art Historian:
A person who is an authority on art history, studies it and writes about it.
The role of the Art Critic:
Art critics usually criticize and evaluate art in the framework of aesthetics often to provide a foundation for art appreciation.

The role of the Archivists:
An archivist preserves important objects and documents, including works of art, transcripts, photographs, and historic objects.

The role of the Artist:
An artist is a person whose work shows creative ability and skill in the fine arts, such as a painter, sculptor, printmaker...

The role of the Artist Assistant:
The artist's assistant gives aid to and assumes some of the responsibilities of the artist.

The role of the Art Therapist:
Art therapists use psychotherapy which incorporates the creation of visual art in order to understand and express one's feelings.

The role of the Art Educator:
The educator uses skill based instruction in various art disciplines.

The role of the Student:
One who studies the Fine Arts. 

The role of the Activist:
The activist expresses protest or a reaction to an events or situation through art.

The role of the Political/Social Commentator:
The commentator analyzes and reports social or political events.  He/She delivers a commentary or commentaries through art.

Art in Community

Tim Rollins and K.O.S.,
Animal Farm
The Art & Life of Tim Rollins & K.O.S.


Kids of Survival is an Emmy Award-winning feature-length documentary about three years of work and struggle inside the acclaimed South Bronx art/education group, Tim Rollins & K.O.S.

For over a decade, artist-educator Tim Rollins, working with Puerto Rican and Dominican teenagers in the Bronx, has made large-scale paintings now hanging in major museums and collections around the world.

In Kids of Survival, five teenage boys from the Bronx use their talents as modern artists to wage a crucial personal battle. Their day-to-day challenges and triumphs show how individual transformation is possible, and how a small-scale program can approach the mammoth task of inspiring at-risk kids to empower themselves through education and the development of innate talent.

Kids of Survival is about art as a survival tool, fully capturing the group’s process through the production of six major paintings. It stands in direct contradiction to the current view of many policy-makers, who consider the arts to be nothing but a luxury, and provides and eloquent example of the role of art as a means to positive social change.

Tim Rollins' roles: art educator, activist, political and social commentator
KOS' role: students, political and social commentators

Questions to consider:

What is the teacher trying to do with the kids?

What motivates him?

How does he motivate the kids?

Is he teaching them only about art or other things?

What does this do for them?

How does art bring them together?

What is it about art that holds their interest, brings them together and changes their lives?

What was the effect of the boy getting killed? Did it make their art more important or less?

What do you think of Tim Rollin's work?

Does he fulfill the core value of moral consciousness and service to others?

What does Tim Rollins get out of working with the kids?

Additional Articles and Sources: