The three kinds
I’ve got a theory there are three basic kinds of art: functional, impressionistic and storytelling.
Storytelling art is easy. It’s art that tells a story, like film, animation, novels, comic books and plays. But it’s also the paintings, sculptures, poetry, songs and dances that are pieces of stories, or symbolic of a story. You experience storytelling art and you experience characters and journeys and growth.
Functional art is design. It’s a bi-product of making something useful. The first rocking chairs were probably pretty plain looking, but as craftsmen kept making them they added all kinds of details and ornamentation, just for aesthetics, just to make the rocking chairs more beautiful. Architecture, fashion and graphic design are all arenas of functional art.
And that leaves impressionistic art, which is everything else. Picassos and Van Goghs and cereal boxes. This stuff is more about conveying a feeling, an emotional connection. It’s not telling a story and it’s not doing anything useful. It’s just beautiful in some way and hopefully touches a chord inside.