The essayWhat Is Art? written in 1897 by Leo Tolstoy, is an inspiring piece of work that is both profound yet simple, simultaneously, making it an interesting read on the subject. Tolstoy's view of art is quite remarkable, changing the way you view art as a part of society forever. His simple lexicon is understandable and unassuming as well as being informative. Within this text, Tolstoy explores how art affects its audience and the emotional link that forms as a result.
"In order correctly to define art, it is necessary, first of all, to cease to consider it as a means to pleasure and to consider it as one of the conditions of human life. Viewing it in this way we cannot fail to observe that art is one of the means of intercourse between man and man." – Leo Tolstoy
What Is Art? is full of strong opinions and it is clear from how Tolstoy wrote that he believed most art of his time to be unethical and decadent, with most artists being deluded. The true purpose of this essay is to define art itself and Tolstoy approaches this in a number of ways throughout the book. He considers the influence that religion, philosophy and social conditions all have on art, going into great detail explaining these factors.