What roles have artist played in history?
What roles do they play now?
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From early cave dwelling paintings to modern sculptures honoring war victims, it seems like art has been a vehicle and mode to express people's feelings, hopes, fears, political, social, emotional, and spiritual expressions. Art has been one way historically to successfully articulate and also preserve one's culture, heritage, and sense of religion.
Art was historically an attempt to capture everyday life activities such as worshiping, natural events, hunting, gathering, death, birth, etc. To me, it was more literal in the past than it is now.
One critic also agrees that art was historically more of a religious and civic role. "For centuries the role of the artist was simple: to convey visually, aspects of faith and spirituality. Briefly in Rome art ventured into more secular topics, but then went back into the service of religion with the rise of the Church. For the most part, art was about what happens when you die. Roughly around the time of the 16th century art started to become secular again. Topics of civic pride, portraiture and nature becoming more important. As we get to the 19th and 20th century the role changes further into that of critic, ...
The artist's role historically and currently is briefly discussed.