Skip main navigation

Humanism and art

Watch humanist Briony Kapoor describe the way art can enrich our lives
I commission artists to make works of art and we then displayed them in the public arena so that the public can enjoy them completely free of charge so everybody gets a benefit and everybody enjoys it.
We are largely not reasonable and logical. We’re emotional, we’re passionate, we have our five senses, our feelings, and they need something deep to respond to. And, wordlessly, we communicate with nature. Most of our - or a large part of our - communication as human beings is nonverbal and intuitive, and art is a way of expressing that - that leaves language completely out of the picture - and makes a wordless revelation of the truth available to everybody.
I think that’s very central to the experience of creating art. Understanding human beings is one of the great rewards that art gives to us. At a rather basic level
you can understand art from a technical point of view: the composition; the use of colour; the kind of tools that have been used; the colours; and the skills of draftsmanship. But at a much deeper level you will have the truth that the artist is trying to tell. He will have given his painting or sculpture a narrative and that means the - what the subject of the painting is actually doing. And the whole thing results in a shared emotion. There’s a human being creating the work, there’s a human being often depicted in the work, and there’s a human being observing the work, and all of them will access the same emotions and the same reactions.
Of course art helps us to make sense of our own lives because it’s one of the authorities we can turn to when we’re in distress or when we’re puzzled. There will be other human beings who have experienced a similar situation, and they may have depicted it in a work of art from which we can learn something.
My work is a joy, day and night, and I think art - the creation of art, and the display of art, and thinking about art - is one of the highest things that you can do, and it’s a very great privilege to be in the position of working with artists. It’s very, very exciting interacting with the artists, bringing ideas to fruition, seeing things come to completion, and it’s very enjoyable indeed when visitors come and see what has been done and appreciate it, and you can, you can see that you’re improving the environment - the actual physical environment - where the artwork is being placed, and the lives of the people observing the art works. You can see them smile.
Very often they might not have the language to describe what they’re feeling, and they’ll say something like ‘ooh, brightens up the place a bit’ but you know it’s made them feel good, and to spend your life having this marvellous effect of making other people feel good is really a wonderful privilege.

Briony Kapoor is the Creative Director of the IMOS Foundation, a charity that commissions gifted and undiscovered artists to make works of art, and then displays them in the public arena to help improve the human and urban environment.

Question: How does art enrich our lives?

This article is from the free online

Humanist Lives, with Alice Roberts

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education