Art

Art, in its broadest sense, includes every human activity – performed individually or collectively – which leads to forms of creativity and aesthetic expression, relying on technical devices, innate or acquired skills and behavioral rules deriving from study and experience. Therefore art is a language, that is, the ability to transmit emotions and messages. However, there is no single artistic language and no single unequivocal code of interpretation.

In its most sublime meaning, art is the aesthetic expression of the human interiority and soul. It reflects the opinions, feelings and thoughts of the artist in the social, moral, cultural, ethical or religious context of his historical period. Some philosophers and researchers of semantics, however, argue that there is an objective language that, regardless of ages and styles, should be codified in order to be understood by all, however, efforts to prove this claim have been unsuccessful.

Art can also be considered a profession of ancient tradition carried out in observance of certain canons codified over time. In this sense, artisan professions – those, that is, that pertain to craftsmanship – often descend from the Middle Ages, when specialized activities were developed and the practitioners of arts and crafts were united in guilds. Each art had its own tradition, whose fundamental concepts were enclosed in the rule of art, to which each craftsman had to conform.

The concept of art as a technique (a complex of rules and experiences elaborated by man to produce objects or represent images taken from reality or fantasy) evolves only through a critical step in the concept of art as an original expression of an artist, to reach the definition of an object as a work of art. Within the so-called theories of ‘beauty’, or aesthetics, there is a tendency in fact to give the term art a privileged meaning, to indicate a particular cultural product that is commonly classified under the name of the individual disciplines of production, painting, sculpture, architecture, as well as music or poetry (aesthetics).

The various meanings with which the arts of painting, sculpture and architecture have been historically defined and understood are significant of the different cultural approach to these disciplines over the centuries. In the Western world, already in the Middle Ages, the different arts, while being part of the crafts, implied theoretical principles, but only since the 15th century the meaning of art is linked to the concept of artistic creation as an activity of the intellect, up to consider, from L.B. Alberti to the treatises of the second half of the 16th century, the three arts as sciences, to be included in the liberal arts. The distinction between the major arts (painting, sculpture, architecture) and the minor arts (miniature, glass art, goldsmithing, etc.), according to a terminology current since the second half of the 19th century, has been overcome in historiography and criticism since the second half of the 20th century. Also in the 19th century, expressions such as applied arts and industrial arts emerged, which correspond to the so-called minor arts, but refer in particular to the artistic redevelopment of the object of use produced by hand or industrially.

Art disciplines

The major art forms, from which all others – called the minor arts – emanate or are related to, are:

  • Painting (including drawing, engraving and digital graphics)
  • Sculpture (including goldsmithing, textile art, tapestry and origami)
  • Architecture
  • Literature
  • Music
  • Dance
  • Theater
  • Cinema (including video art)
  • Photography (including multivision)
  • Comics

They can be grouped into visual arts, which do not require execution because the work is presented to the viewer already perfectly defined, and performing arts, which instead require the artist not only to be produced, but also performed:

  • Visual arts
    • Painting
    • Sculpture
    • Architecture
    • Writing (form of literature)
    • Cinema
    • Photography
    • Comics
  • Performing Arts
    • Music
    • Dance
    • Theater
    • Illusionism
    • Reading (form of literature)

Another possible subdivision of the arts, based on human senses, is as follows:

  • Visual Arts
    • Figurative or Fine Arts
    • Painting (including drawing, printmaking, and digital graphics)
    • Sculpture (including goldsmithing, textile art, tapestry, and origami)
    • Architecture
    • Photography
    • Writing (form of literature)
    • Comics
  • Hearing Arts
    • Music
    • Reading (form of literature)
  • Audiovisual Arts
    • Theater
    • Cinematography
    • Dance

A final subdivision of the arts, though not including all of them, is that of the “nine arts.” Originally drafted in 1923 by Italian poet Ricciotto Canudo, it was expanded with the last two entries by French critic Claude Beylie in 1964:

  • Architecture
  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • Music
  • Poetry
  • Dance
  • Cinema
  • Radio-television
  • Comics

Other informations

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