While there is room for speculation, the entire field is considered relatively straight-forward. However, what does it mean when we enter into more subjective fields such as art or architecture? Some people will provide a relatively succinct definition of art that tends to dwell on the academic approach taken in its creation. During the Renaissance, the emphasis was on realistic portrayal: “a new basis to pictorial composition was given through the invention of linear perspective … Depth was suggested by depicting the progressive decrease in the size of objects and figures as their distance from the observer increases – an illusion which in painting becomes truth.”1 Others, such as A.K. Coomaraswamy (1877 – 1947), art critic and curator of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts for many years, suggest it is something more elemental and intrinsically linked with its environment. “[T]hings are made normally for certain purposes and certain places to which they are appropriate, and not simply ‘for exhibition’.”2 The type of art Coomaraswamy describes can be considered to take a traditional approach in that it attempts to make a connection on as many levels as possible, the body, mind, and spirit as well as the gross, subtle and pure. Architecture, such as Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water, illustrates how simple form can be translated into elegant art through the eye of a traditional artist.
To understand the more sublime nature of art, Plato offers a helpful allegory. Plato, who was a student of Socrates, pulled together the ideas of his mentor and Pythagoras to combine them with his own response to what he’d seen of the world to develop his Theory of Forms. In this theory, the ultimate goal was to progress through the levels of reality to the highest level, also known as the greatest good. .