ENVIRONMENTAL ASPECTS OF ART


This paper will show the relationship between the environment and fine arts. Both of these subjects are evaluated on a perceptual basis of what the observer sees and appreciates. As the basis for this report, it will be determined what is considered art and what comprises the environment.


Defining what is art has been discussed at least since Plato wrote in The Republic about the place of the artist in society. The importance of art to mankind has peculiarly modern implications since only in the past few hundred years has any need been felt to justify or explain art as a significant aspect of human experience. [1]


Arts have changed over time and it is somewhat difficult to quantify exactly what is art. “Trends in social organization and theory, in religion, philosophy, and ethics, alter men’s views about the functions and values of art and about the relative importance of past artists and their works. There is no final answer to the question what are the arts? or to the question what should the arts become?.”[2] Definitions of art range from a subjective experience of I know what I like to more profound ideas of art that make beauty comprehensible and capable of being perceived through the senses. Another definition makes art the form that results when ideas are expressed in such a way that they are addressed most directly to the emotions of the observer. Neither of these definitions is sufficiently comprehensive. A better definition states “art as the presentation in


comprehensible form of the truth perceived by the artist in his experience of life.”[3] In a more general sense, there are three major visual arts, sculpture, painting, and architecture. Of these three arts, only architecture can be called practical in the generally accepted sense of the word.[4] Architecture is the visual art that will be discussed in comparison with the environment. Land art is a form of architectural art that will also be discussed, since it is art that is intimately connected with the environment.


The term environment can be used to describe the space that surrounds humans and their activities; the environment is a set of biological and physical facts in and modified by man.. Man is a powerful agent of change in the environment and undergoes change in time. There is something unique in his species, and gives him a role in the natural community of animals for a dynamic and often unstable contradicting relationship with the space around himself. There is a give and take relationship, a dynamic in space, coupled with a recurrent change, destruction, and renewal; a dynamic in time.[5]


One of the primary purposes of architecture is to satisfy a basic fundamental human need for shelter, which is a need next only to that for food among man’s instincts for preserving life. A building is normally designed for a particular use and this is therefore a factor in determining its form. The construction method is an aspect of architecture that is closely related to the science of engineering and thus makes it possible to trace the entire history of the art through changes in form resulting from the various methods of construction employed at different times in history. An example is the skyscraper which did not originate until the latter part of the nineteenth century due to its extensive use of steel, which is a modern age material.[6]


Some of the earliest architecture of history developed in the eastern Mediterranean area in the fertile river valleys where agricultural civilizations replaced the more primitive hunting cultures of early man whose main dwellings were caves. An example is that of Egypt in which the stabilizing effect of a fixed and permanent society is seen architecturally in the continuity of tradition and the monumental character of the buildings erected, to which both material and social conditions contributed. The Egyptian society developed alongside the banks of the Nile River in the fertile fields. These fields were frequently flooded by the raging Nile River and personalized the phenomena of life and death.[7] The Great Pyramids at Gizeh in Egypt were among the wonders of the ancient world. The Great Pyramids were built in the fourth dynasty of the Old Kingdom, between 2680 BC and 2565 BC. They were the tombs of the Pharaohs