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WAB Faculty & Staff

Theory of Knowledge: The Arts

resources for TOK at WAB

Concepts in the Arts

Is it possible to objectively evaluate art?  How do we measure artistic value?



Is the artist responsible for all the meaning found within their art?  Whose perspective matters when determining meaning?

Source:  Bill Waterston interview


Can genuinely new artistic knowledge ever be created?

Things that make you go hmmm....

Is the value of art determined by its intention or content?   Is the consensus truth test ever a valid basis of (artistic) judgement?

Artist creates images to highlight social problems.

Video from the Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project of elephants painting original art.

Is artistic knowledge something that cannot be expressed in any other way?

What is the role of perception is determining artistic meaning?  Is artistic interpretation always subjective?

There is so much going on in this brilliant TED talk--Art, History, Math, Language, Religion--I will leave it to you to generate a knowledge question!

What are the justifications for and implications of claiming that there are absolute standards for “good art” Who determines what art is valued, and on what criteria?


Famous (or infamous) 60 Minutes segment on modern art.   You can find examples of the art world's response here, here and here  (From home, use a VPN located in the US to access)

Are moral / aesthetic judgements about art  a matter of taste or a matter of truth?

If math is universal, and beauty is math, is art universal?  

Does sense perception perform a different role in the arts compared to other areas of knowledge?

How much do we need to know about the social, cultural, and historical background of a work of art in order to understand it?

Is the message of works of art more important than the technique and execution?  Can you separate them?