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"Rembrandt, "Self-Portrait with Two Circles, c. 1665–1669, oil on canvas, "Kenwood House, London
"Kazimir Malevich, "Black Square, 1923–29, oil on canvas, "Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg

In European academic traditions, fine art is art developed primarily for "aesthetics or beauty, distinguishing it from "applied art, which also has to serve some practical function, such as "pottery or most metalwork.

Historically, the five main fine arts were "painting, "sculpture, "architecture, "music, and "poetry, with performing arts including "theatre and "dance.[1] Today, the fine arts commonly include additional forms, such as "film, "photography, "video production/"editing, "design, "sequential art, "conceptual art, and "printmaking.

One definition of fine art is "a visual art considered to have been created primarily for "aesthetic and intellectual purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture."[2] In that sense, there are conceptual differences between the fine arts and the applied arts. As originally conceived, and as understood for much of the modern era, the perception of aesthetic qualities required a refined judgment usually referred to as having good "taste, which differentiated fine art from popular art and entertainment.[3]

The word "fine" does not so much denote the quality of the artwork in question, but the purity of the discipline according to traditional Western European canons.["citation needed] This definition originally excluded the applied or "decorative arts, and the products of what were regarded as "crafts. In contemporary practice these distinctions and restrictions have become essentially meaningless, as the concept or intention of the artist is given primacy, regardless of the means through which this is expressed.["citation needed]



According to some writers the concept of a distinct category of fine art is an invention of the "early modern period in the West. Larry Shiner in his "The Invention of Art: A Cultural History (2003) locates the invention in the 18th century: "There was a traditional “system of the arts” in the West before the eighteenth century. (Other traditional cultures still have a similar system.) In that system, an artist or artisan was a skilled maker or practitioner, a work of art was the useful product of skilled work, and the appreciation of the arts was integrally connected with their role in the rest of life. “Art,” in other words, meant approximately the same thing as the Greek word techne, or in English “skill”, a sense that has survived in phrases like “the art of war,” “the art of love,” and “the art of medicine.”[4] Similar ideas have been expressed by "Paul Oskar Kristeller, "Pierre Bourdieu, and "Terry Eagleton (e.g. The Ideology of the Aesthetic), though the point of invention is often placed earlier, in the "Italian Renaissance.

Cultural perspectives[edit]

The separation of arts and crafts that often exists in Europe and the US is not shared by all other cultures. In "Japanese aesthetics, the activities of everyday life are depicted by integrating not only art with craft but man-made with nature. Traditional "Chinese art distinguished within "Chinese painting between the mostly landscape "literati painting of "scholar gentlemen and the artisans of the schools of court painting and sculpture. A high status was also given to many things that would be seen as craft objects in the West, in particular ceramics, "jade carving, weaving, and embroidery. "Latin American art was dominated by European colonialism until the 20th-century, when indigenous art began to reassert itself inspired by the "Constructivist Movement, which reunited arts with crafts based upon socialist principles. In Africa, "Yoruba art often has a political and spiritual function. As with the art of the Chinese, the art of the Yoruba is also often composed of what would ordinarily be considered in the West to be craft production. Some of its most admired manifestations, such as sculpture and textiles, fall in this category.

Visual arts[edit]

Two-dimensional works[edit]

Painting and drawing[edit]

Drawing is a form of visual expression and is one of the major forms of the visual arts. Common instruments include: "graphite "pencils, "pen and ink, "inked "brushes, wax "color pencils, "crayons, "charcoals, "chalk, "pastels, "markers, "stylus, or various metals like "silverpoint. There are a number of subcategories of drawing, including "cartooning and creating "comics. There remains debate whether the following is considered a part of “drawing” as “fine art”: ""doodling", drawing in the fog a "shower and leaving an imprint on the "bathroom "mirror, or the "surrealist method of ""entopic graphomania", in which dots are made at the sites of impurities in a blank sheet of paper, and the lines are then made between the dots.


Mosaic of "Christ Pantocrator from "Hagia Sophia

Mosaics are images formed with small pieces of stone or glass, called "tesserae. They can be decorative or functional. An artist who designs and makes mosaics is called a mosaic artist or a mosaicist.


"Melencolia I, 1514, "Dürer

Printmaking is the process of making artworks by "printing, normally on "paper. Except in the case of "monotyping, the process is capable of producing multiples of the same piece, which is called a print. Each print is considered an original, as opposed to a copy. The reasoning behind this is that the print is not a reproduction of another "work of art in a different medium — for instance, a painting — but rather an image designed from inception as a print. An individual print is also referred to as an impression. Prints are created from a single original surface, known technically as a "matrix. Common types of matrices include: plates of metal, usually copper or zinc for "engraving or "etching; stone, used for "lithography; blocks of wood for "woodcuts, linoleum for "linocuts and fabric in the case of "screen-printing. But there are many other kinds, discussed below. Multiple nearly identical prints can be called an "edition. In modern times each print is often signed and numbered forming a "limited edition." Prints may also be published in book form, as "artist's books. A single print could be the product of one or multiple techniques.


Folio from a Koran (8–9th century), "Abbasid "Kufic Calligraphy

Calligraphy is a type of visual art. It is often called the art of fancy lettering [5] A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner".[5] Modern calligraphy ranges from functional hand-lettered inscriptions and designs to fine-art pieces where the abstract expression of the handwritten mark may or may not compromise the legibility of the letters.[5] Classical calligraphy differs from typography and non-classical hand-lettering, though a calligrapher may create all of these; characters are historically disciplined yet fluid and spontaneous, improvised at the moment of writing [6][7][8]


"Ansel Adams, The Tetons and the Snake River, 1942

Fine art photography refers to photographs that are created to fulfill the creative vision of the artist. Fine art photography stands in contrast to photojournalism and commercial photography. Photojournalism visually communicates stories and ideas, mainly in print and digital media. Fine art photography is created primarily as an expression of the artist’s vision, but has also been important in advancing certain causes. The work of "Ansel Adams in "Yosemite and "Yellowstone provides an example. Adams is one of the most widely recognized fine art photographers of the 20th century and was an avid promoter of conservation. While his primary focus was on photography as art, his work raised public awareness of the beauty of the "Sierra Nevada and helped to build political support for their protection.

Three-dimensional works[edit]



"Architecture is frequently considered a fine art, especially if its "aesthetic components are spotlighted — in contrast to "structural-engineering or "construction-management components. Architectural works are perceived as cultural and political "symbols and works of art. Historical "civilizations often are known primarily through their architectural achievements. Such buildings as the "pyramids of "Egypt and the "Roman "Colosseum are cultural symbols, and are important links in public consciousness, even when "scholars have discovered much about past civilizations through other means. Cities, regions and cultures continue to identify themselves with, and are known by, their architectural monuments.[9]


One field where "fine" remains a valid technical term is "pottery, especially in "archaeology. "Fine wares" are high-quality pottery, often painted, moulded or otherwise decorated, and in many periods distinguished from "coarse" wares, which are basic utilitarian pots used by the mass of the population, or in the kitchen rather than for more formal purposes.


Head "Ife "Terracotta, "Nigeria, 12th–14th century

"Sculpture is "three-dimensional "artwork created by shaping hard or "plastic material, commonly "stone (either "rock or "marble), "metal, or "wood. Some sculptures are created directly by carving; others are assembled, built up and "fired, "welded, "molded, or "cast. Because sculpture involves the use of materials that can be moulded or modulated, it is considered one of the "plastic arts. The majority of "public art is sculpture. Many sculptures together in a "garden setting may be referred to as a "sculpture garden.

Conceptual art[edit]

Conceptual art is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. The inception of the term in the 1960s referred to a strict and focused practice of idea-based art that often defied traditional visual criteria associated with the visual arts in its presentation as text. However, through its association with the "Young British Artists and the "Turner Prize during the 1990s, its popular usage, particularly in the "UK, developed as a synonym for all "contemporary art that does not practice the traditional skills of "painting and "sculpture.[10]


"Vasily Mate, Portrait of "Alexander Pushkin (1899)

Poetry (the term derives from a variant of the Greek term, poiesis, "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as sound symbolism, phonaesthetics and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.[11]


"Fela Kuti in 1970

Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. The common elements of music are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics (loudness and softness), and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture (which are sometimes termed the "color" of a musical sound). Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces (such as songs without instrumental accompaniment) and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική (mousike; "art of the Muses").

Performing Arts[edit]


Dance is an art form that generally refers to "movement of the body, usually rhythmic, and to music,[12] used as a form of "expression, "social interaction or presented in a "spiritual or performance setting. Dance is also used to describe methods of "nonverbal communication (see "body language) between humans or "animals ("bee dance, "patterns of behaviour such as a mating dance), "motion in inanimate objects (the leaves danced in the wind), and certain musical genres. In sports, gymnastics, "figure skating and "synchronized swimming are dance disciplines while the "Katas of the "martial arts are often compared to dances.


The "Royal Opera House, London

Modern Western "theatre is dominated by "realism, including "drama and "comedy. Another popular Western form is "musical theatre. Classical forms of theatre, including "Greek and "Roman drama, classic "English drama ("Shakespeare and "Marlowe included), and "French theater ("Molière included), are still performed today. In addition, performances of classic Eastern forms such as "Noh and "Kabuki can be found in the West, although with less frequency.


Fine arts film is a term that encompasses motion pictures and the field of film as a fine "art form. A fine arts movie theater is a venue, usually a building, for viewing such movies. "Films are produced by "recording images from the world with "cameras, or by creating images using "animation techniques or "special effects. Films are "cultural artifacts created by specific "cultures, which reflect those cultures, and, in turn, affect them. Film is considered to be an important "art form, a source of popular entertainment and a powerful method for "educating — or "indoctrinating — citizens. The visual elements of cinema give motion pictures a universal power of communication. Some films have become popular worldwide attractions by using "dubbing or "subtitles that "translate the dialogue.

"Cinematography is the discipline of making "lighting and "camera choices when recording photographic "images for the "cinema. It is closely related to the art of "still photography, though many additional issues arise when both the camera and elements of the scene may be in motion.

"Independent filmmaking often takes place outside of "Hollywood, or other major "studio systems. An independent film (or indie film) is a film initially produced without financing or distribution from a "major movie studio. Creative, business, and technological reasons have all contributed to the growth of the indie film scene in the late 20th and early 21st century.


Academic study[edit]




South America[edit]

United States[edit]

In the "United States an academic course of study in fine art may include the "Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art, or a "Bachelor of Fine Arts, and/or a "Master of Fine Arts degree — traditionally the "terminal degree in the field. "Doctor of Fine Arts degrees —earned, as opposed to "honorary degrees— have begun to emerge at some US academic institutions, however. Major schools of art in the US:


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