Is Literature ‘Art’ April 19, 2019
Art as Expression
The Oxford dictionary defines Art as ‘the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. Can we, then, consider literature to be Art? It certainly qualifies as an expression of creative skill and imagination. And a writer certainly uses his words to ‘suggest a narrative picture in his reader’s mind. While a painter uses color and symbols to create an emotional message, the writer, too, attempts to do the same, using words as his (or her) palette.
Greek tragedy provides us with an example of literature teaming up with the visual arts. Greek playwrights, like Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides, intended their words to be ‘brought to life’ on stage. As such, these works fit in quite nicely with the Oxford definition of Art.
The Bible has, of course, inspired the dramatic and visual arts of the Western World for centuries. In particular, paintings created during the Renaissance were largely based on religious interpretations of the bible. This era began in 14th century Italy and spanned some 300 hundred years. Artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo created some of the world’s most beloved masterpieces, based, of course, on biblical themes.
Literature as Visual Art
Even in the modern era, literature continues to play an important role in the visual arts. Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Neil Simon, for example, wrote ‘for the stage’. This tradition has certainly carried over into the film world. Most movies start out as screenplays. Orsen Wells’ Citizen Kane is considered to be one of the greatest examples of film as ‘art’.