Why is art history important
Why do people engage in art?
Or: is it reprehensible to buy the red picture because it goes with the sofa?
To answer the second question in advance: I think it is not objectionable. It's an acceptable reason. If you ask 100 people interested in art, you will surely get 100 different reasons for buying art. What actually matters is their openness and interest in art.
So the probably smarter question is: why are people drawn to art?
Art is knowledge
What is art, and what is art creation about? Many people suspect that the German word "Kunst" derives from "kann". However, very few consider that the original meaning of "can" is "to know".
A work of art is therefore a kind of knowledge package, a tangible object that contains information. Art materializes and condenses information (previously known, unknown, anticipated), knowledge, data, energy. All of this is made available to the viewer simultaneously and in a form that can be perceived by the senses. The philosopher Benedetto Croce (1866-1952) said: "The artist grasps more than the rest of us." If the world were a book, we would read the table of contents - but the artists would read the chapters: each one a different one.
So art is about knowledge - and knowledge counts as an asset in economics. Those who have more knowledge than their competitors have an advantage.
Art requires contemplation and silence
I learned languages as a child, now I speak five. And still remember how much effort it took me. Back then, we all wanted a chip that you simply had to plant under your skin so that from one moment to the next you could speak and write a new language without errors. (As far as I know, this invention has still not been made ..)
Knowledge transfer through art works differently than the ways we normally learn. It happens through a kind of transference: by getting involved with a work of art, new knowledge arises in oneself. Knowledge that is possibly difficult to grasp verbally (otherwise the artist could have written a specialist book), but nevertheless: knowledge. Knowledge - like the one you received as a child, sitting on your grandfather's knees, listening to endless stories ... Knowledge like that when you helped your grandmother cook.
In both cases it is about sharing in another person's horizon of experience. The knowledge imparted may not be directly applicable in the immediate situation, but still offers an indispensable decision-making aid in the overall context.
At the moment there are various research groups that deal with the transfer of knowledge between art - business - science - philosophy. Management consultants like Dr. Michael Brater (advisor to the dm drugstore chain, Germany) favor artistic action as a strategy to assert oneself in a rapidly changing economic environment. Artists are pioneers and signposts here.
So why are companies interested in art? Because they saw the signs of the times. Because they have understood that if they exclude themselves from the global dialogue that is conducted (also) about art, they will soon be excluded.
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