Medium in Art

David Davies

in The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780199279456
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Medium in Art

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In its most general sense, a medium is a means of transmitting some matter or content from a source to a site of reception. The function of a medium, so construed, is mediation. Natural media such as air and water mediate the transmission of sounds. An art medium, then, is presumably something that mediates the transmission of the content of an artwork to a receiver. Art media, so conceived, have been characterized in a number of different ways: as material or physical kinds (e.g. oil paint, bronze, stone, bodily movements); as ranges of sensible determinables realizable in material or physical kinds (e.g. pitch, tone, texture, colour); as ways of purposively realizing specific values of such determinables (e.g. brushstrokes, gestures), or as systems of signs (‘languages’ in a more or less strict sense).

Keywords: medium of art; natural media; mediation; transmission; artwork; systems of signs

Article.  5543 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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