Why Art Matters
The purpose of art is to intentionally express emotion, in order to evoke emotion. Evoking emotion is the key to expressing the human condition. While this may seem like a pretty confusing explanation, it’s actually really simple. The purpose of art is to make people feel emotions by drawing on their past experiences.
The human condition is one driven by emotion and so when you evoke emotion you take control of the human condition. The key word though is intentionally; because many things are expressions of emotion, that may evoke other emotions, but they aren't "art." Say you’re driving on the highway and the guy behind you doesn’t think you’re driving fast enough so he starts tailgating you. He is expressing an emotion, and the act of tailgating if frustrating.... so he’s evoking an emotion. However, the intent wasn’t to evoke an emotion it was to get you to drive faster.
Now take the same scenario but, instead you’re watching it in a movie. This changes the situation to one where the person who put the scene together did so in a specific way in order to evoke some kind of emotional reaction. The director expressed the emotion of anger by displaying the act of tailgating and in response the audience feels that emotion. By forcing them to feel that emotion they are forced to experience the human condition. Great works of art fulfill this purpose by making you ponder them, study them, question them. They evoke constant emotion from the intended audience and thus make them experience being human in a new light. That is the purpose of art.