Part One

ArtGrok is a site for understanding and appreciating great artworks. And for users to contribute additional entries of great artworks. Each entry includes description, general information, and a basic perspective of the emotional and thematic and sensual elements of such great works.

Artgrok has a distinct view of art that contrasts with both contemporary and traditional views of art. For example, traditional views of the visual arts emphasize the importance of symbolism and subject matter. Most modern views, by contrast, reject the traditional ideas of symbolism or representation, and reject the idea of artworks expressing any meaning.

This site, in distinction to both traditional and modern approaches, emphasizes meaning and emotion, as the central features of any realistic view of the fine arts (thematic arts, as we call them on ArtGrok). Symbolic characteristics, or appeals to historical story-lines, or to purely formal characteristics, are not the essence of fine artworks. Similar distinctions in ArtGrok's fundamental view of the thematic arts apply to literature, musical arts, architectural arts, and performing arts.

A key element of ArtGrok is its organization, which is structured to help clarify the vast field of art into four broad types, based on one central feature: Theme. A theme is an idea that succinctly describes the central meaning and purpose of an artwork, and this idea is intimately related to the significant esthetic emotions an artwork expresses. So, we organize the entire field of art into four types, thusly:

  • The Thematic Arts (type 1) are those that express deep (metaphysical) emotions about human nature -- about important issues of human existence and the nature of the world.

  • The Decorative arts (type 2), Experiential arts (type 3), and Product design arts (type 4) are artworks that are created for other esthetic pleasures than a central theme -- they are focused on perceptually pleasing effects of the eye or ear, or on visually striking and intelligently conceived products. Most people understand the type called Decorative, and the type called Product-design, but there is an important type, Experiential, that is rarely discussed. Experiential artworks are works close to the fine arts -- the Thematic arts -- in that they share the same media (paint or ink, sculptural stone or metal, novel or poetic forms, cinematic or theatrical forms, etc.), but which are not conceived by the artist with any metaphysical theme intended. This makes Experiential works so distinct from Thematic artworks, that it is important to judge them in their own category.

Such a distinction of thematic on the one hand, and experiential, decorative, product-design on the other, is not always an either/or choice. But for the most part, the first step in organizing the world of artworks is to recognize that there are important differences between artworks with significant themes about the nature of the world, and those that are made primarily to delight our senses.

Part Two

ArtGrok’s main features:

  • ArtGrok is a select repository of all art and art-craft works from all categories, eras and styles. ArtGrok is a growing database of distinguished individual artworks from around the world. The best works of the best creators in all fields.

  • ArtGrok is a collaborative website (a type of wiki website, akin to Wikipedia). Anyone can add a work they consider of high quality in any category of their interest. There is some thinking and observing to be done to add a work, since you have to be able to articulate the basic character of the work -- what makes it special in character and quality, and in the case of thematic artworks, to be able to identify the evident and intended meaning by the artist.

Why ArtGrok?
To “grok” something is to understand it completely (or as the Merriam-Webster dictionary puts it: "to understand profoundly".)

This site is dedicated to the full understanding of the various art Types:

-- From deeply life-affecting emotional effects of literary, visual, musical, and performance arts -- the Thematic arts, traditionally known as the fine arts;

-- To the pleasurable perceptual delights of decorative effects - the Decorative arts;

-- To the integrated form and function in good products and designs of the Product-design arts;

-- To the rousing pleasurable experiences of popular arts -- Experiential arts; (Artworks that may be similar in form and media to the Thematic arts, but don't intentionally carry any metaphysical theme within them.

The descriptions of these four major Types of art are in the “How Art is Organized on ArtGrok”.

The motto of ArtGrok is “clarity and objectivity in the arts”, and that is the guide for every ArtGrok entry. Any contributor who wants to add an artwork to ArtGrok first has to decide what category it belongs to, and then do some thinking to provide cogent information about its theme (if it is a thematic art) and the other essential features that make the artwork special and unique in the pantheon of its category.

ArtGrok employs the esthetic theory of Ayn Rand, especially as presented in her essays Art and Cognition and The Psycho-epistemology of Art, as a way to understand how each ArtGrok Artwork is described and judged. While ArtGrok takes Ayn Rand’s esthetic principles as its basis, the organization on this website is solely the responsibility of the management of www.ArtGrok.org. ArtGrok is a practical website comprising a database of individual artworks, and is based on art theory principles described on our companion site of www.Esthetics.cc, which highlights the theoretical work of Objectivist esthetics (Ayn Rand) and other writers who promote reason and objectivity in the arts, such as Aristotle and G.L. Raymond.

Aside from creating a wide-ranging resource of masterpiece artworks, an integral goal of ArtGrok is to help you evaluate an artwork according to its essential characteristics, and place it in clear relation to other artworks in its category, and to artworks in other categories. The practical result of this process of evaluation of individual artworks can be a greater emotional attachment and deeper understanding of each particular work, and the entire category of such artworks. The result can be a richer connection to works you love or to works you discover here.

Happy grokking.