The purpose of art is to give you a way to experience life in a way you would otherwise not be able to. Put another way, its purpose is to broaden human experience.
The human condition is very restrictive:
- You are just one person, living one life.
- You get to live for only a short period of time.
- Your senses only work on things that are physically close to you, and you cannot physically be in more than one place at a time.
- The number of choices you can make in life are relatively small, and many of the choices you do get to make come at the opportunity cost of never being able to try the other choices later.
Imagination allows me to overcome these restrictions to some degree -- I can imagine what it would be like if I were an astronaut; I can imagine being in China right now; I can imagine the profile of a beautiful woman that I just made up -- but even an imagination is limited in that I only have mine, and it is shaped by my own experiences. My imagination will never produce the same things (in kind or quantity) that other people's imaginations do.
Through art I can experience other people's perspectives, their lives, their emotions, their environments, their stories, their images, their sounds... the products of their imaginations.
Art is like having a window into someone else's mind and all that it has seen and can see, real or fantastical. With art, I am able to experience things I would otherwise not be able to. Without art, I would be stuck with only my own mind and the limited things it can produce.
What a boring life that would be.