Philosopher Richard Wollheim distinguishes three approaches to assessing the aesthetic value of art: the realist, whereby aesthetic quality is an absolute valueindependent of any human view; the objectivist, whereby it is also an absolute value, but is dependent on general human experience; and the relativist position, whereby it is notan absolute value, but depends on, and varies with, the human experience of different humans. An object may be characterized by the intentions, or lack thereof, of itscreator, regardless of its apparent purpose. A cup, which ostensibly can be used as a container, may be considered art if intended solely as an ornament, while a painting may bedeemed craft if mass-produced.
The nature of art has been described by Wollheim as "one of the most elusive of the traditional problems of human culture". It has been definedas a vehicle for the expression or communication of emotions and ideas, a means for exploring and appreciating formal elements for their own sake, and as mimesis orrepresentation. Leo Tolstoy identified art as a use of indirect means to communicate from one person to another. Benedetto Croce and R.G. Collingwood advanced the idealist view thatart expresses emotions, and that the work of art therefore essentially exists in the mind of the creator. The theory of art as form has its roots in the philosophy ofImmanuel Kant, and was developed in the early twentieth century by Roger Fry and Clive Bell. Art as mimesis or representation has deep roots in the philosophy of Aristotle. Morerecently, thinkers influenced by Martin Heidegger have interpreted art as the means by which a community develops for itself a medium for self-expression and interpretation.