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When we talk about art, we naturalise the understanding of its concept, however, stopping to rationalise it will allow us to understand how we determine what a work of art is.

What is art?

To understand the concept of a work of art, we must understand what we call art. According to the dictionary, art is the manifestation of human activity through which the real is interpreted or the imagined is expressed with plastic, linguistic or sound resources. In other words, it is the action of creating a product or developing an activity with an aesthetic purpose, based on a determined set of criteria, rules and techniques, which aims to communicate ideas and emotions. And just as art is a faithful reflection of history, artistic works are samples of that history, they are like small snippets of the temporary moment in which they were created.

So what is a work of art?

To determine what is a work of art and what is not, we must first define who can determine what a work of art is? 

While anyone can give an opinion on art, those who really have the ability and power to give value to a work are those who have experience and knowledge. It is impossible to judge art without a deep understanding of its language. Therefore, artists themselves, art teachers, art critics, art critics, gallery owners, collectors, directors of institutions and art lovers are best placed to define when a creation is art and when it is not.

Criteria on which the experts base their judgements

A fundamental principle is the ability to move. We have said that works of art seek to communicate ideas and emotions, so that an artistic creation that does not move cannot be considered as such. 

Another criterion is the context. As we mentioned in the previous paragraph, works of art are small snippets of the history of our society, so they must reflect that context by providing a vision of it. 

Technique is a guideline that cannot be ignored when trying to determine what a work of art is, as it identifies the creation as part of one style or another

Finally, originality, the capacity to present something new, different, groundbreaking. Although it is not an indispensable criterion, it is a plus that can give the artistic work more weight.