There aren’t many requirements for life: oxygen, water, food and shelter can keep a human alive. But even when those were the only things people had; when early human beings lived in caves and the latest possessions and innovations were a more efficient hunting spear or axe, they still scratched what they saw in the world around them into drawings on cave walls. So life was no longer only about finding the means to survive; but expressing those things through simple drawings, as well as sounds and music. It meant that even without language, people could still be aware of what others experienced; and relate to it. So there could be bonding and solidarity without words.
Now, with modern language and the ease of communication via the internet, and with words to describe and express things even as complex as feelings, art is hardly a necessity; It is a luxury. Work by the most well established and famous artists sells for vast sums of money to enthusiastic collectors. I went to the “Affordable Arts Fair” in London not long ago, where even work by less well-known artists sells for huge amounts, though no doubt the artists themselves also pay for gallery space, or representation. People can still make a living through their own skill and vision when they’ve made a name for themselves and while there are people to buy their work. But it’s also a select few whose ability can catch peoples’ eye and stand out enough for them to make a living. Certainly I don’t expect to make a living from art; but I paint because it wouldn’t be living if it wasn’t for art 🙂