Reflections on human creativity


  • Jukka Jokilehto ICCROM

Palabras clave:

creativity, tradition, monument, work of art, history


The scope of the paper is to examine the evolution of understanding human creativity from the traditional world to modernity. The traditional world evolved gradually based on human creative capacity and as a response to the emerging needs and requirements of groups of people and communities. Culture is a product of humanity and it is relevant to all human activities, whether tangible or intangible. As part of the creative processes, human beings associate cultural significance and meanings to all types of artefacts and structures, such as monuments or memorials, traditional vernacular architecture reflecting the identity of each place and community, as well as cult images created for shrines and temples. The traditional construction of the habitat resulted in the creation of structural systems and building forms that gradually developed over centuries. The resulting settlements tended to bear a strong local identity due to the choice of available materials, as well as perceived requirements of the community. The ongoing traditions were not static, but living and capable of implying gradual creative changes in customs and values, while maintaining the underlying essence. Originally, the contextual integration of art in tradition found its expression in the cult. Consequently, being created for a specific ritual function, the work was replaceable and could be substituted by another that served the same function. The question of artistic creation became an argument particularly starting from the Italian Renaissance. The question of imitation of natural forms in order to perceive the original idea was an important topic in the 18th century, when Johann Joachim Winckelmann elevated the notion of “idea” to an “ideal”, an issue in the selection of works to be preserved, concerning especially ancient sculpture. The modern philosophy related to works of art has developed particularly from the early 20th century. It gives particular focus on the distinction between the artistic idea, i.e., the image or form, which represents the intangible aspect, and its realization in material, i.e., the matter that is the carrier of the image. Paul Philippot remarks that art theory distinguishes itself from other historical disciplines because, rather than recounting the history of an event in the past, belonging to memory, it intends to create of history a reality that is present in the consciousness. In conclusion, human creativity represents the intangible life force that aims at the creation and diversification of cultural expressions, whether called monument, work of art or vernacular. The notion of being historic or historical can be taken as a value judgement, which also calls for respect and protection. 


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Cómo citar

Jokilehto, J. (2022). Reflections on human creativity. Conversaciones con., (10), 109–125. Recuperado a partir de