If art does, indeed, perform any or all of the social functions that have been claimed for it by virtue of what it communicates, by its style, rather than simple association, one would expect the function to in some way affect the style. Just as use, material, technique, and the personality of the artist may influence the visible form, so too the social function. The relation of art to society, in this view, is not only a matter of icons, but also of formal organization of spatial relationships, a kind of diagram of the natural order and the social order, and so a guide as to how to behave. Both harmony and opposition are involved.
As art performs such a great variety of social functions, and as function is so closely related to meaning, one can consider all art as a form of communication. The study of art as communication makes it possible to understand how all the various theories as to the function of art, even those that seen] contradictory, can be accepted as valid if visual meaning, like speech, depends on the contexts in which it is used.
Bateson 1958; Biebuyuk 1973; Douglas 1975; Fraser 1968; Glaze 1981; Kavolis 1965, 1972; Ottenburg 1975; Rogers 1970; Turner 1968, 1969, 1974; Tuzin 1980; Wallace 1956.