Portal:Arts

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The arts is a vast subdivision of culture, composed of many creative endeavors and disciplines. It is a broader term than "art", which, as a description of a field, usually means only the visual arts. The arts encompass the visual arts, the literary arts and the performing artsmusic, theatre, dance and film, among others. This list is by no means comprehensive, but only meant to introduce the concept of the arts. For all intents and purposes, the history of the arts begins with the history of art. The arts might have origins in early human evolutionary prehistory.

Ancient Greek art saw the veneration of the animal form and the development of equivalent skills to show musculature, poise, beauty and anatomically correct proportions. Ancient Roman art depicted gods as idealized humans, shown with characteristic distinguishing features (e.g. Jupiter's thunderbolt). In Byzantine and Gothic art of the Middle Ages, the dominance of the church insisted on the expression of biblical and not material truths. Eastern art has generally worked in a style akin to Western medieval art, namely a concentration on surface patterning and local colour (meaning the plain colour of an object, such as basic red for a red robe, rather than the modulations of that colour brought about by light, shade and reflection). A characteristic of this style is that the local colour is often defined by an outline (a contemporary equivalent is the cartoon). This is evident in, for example, the art of India, Tibet and Japan. Religious Islamic art forbids iconography, and expresses religious ideas through geometry instead. The physical and rational certainties depicted by the 19th-century Enlightenment were shattered not only by new discoveries of relativity by Einstein and of unseen psychology by Freud, but also by unprecedented technological development. Paradoxically the expressions of new technologies were greatly influenced by the ancient tribal arts of Africa and Oceania, through the works of Paul Gauguin and the Post-Impressionists, Pablo Picasso and the Cubists, as well as the Futurists and others.

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The Collège de Vendôme, the setting of Louis Lambert
Louis Lambert is a French novel by Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), included in the Études philosophiques section of his novel sequence La Comédie humaine. Set mostly in a school at Vendôme, it examines the life and theories of a boy genius fascinated by the Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772). Balzac wrote Louis Lambert during the summer of 1832 while he was staying with friends at the Château de Saché. The novel contains a minimal plot, focusing mostly on the metaphysical ideas of its boy-genius protagonist and his only friend (eventually revealed to be Balzac himself). Although it is not a significant example of the realist style for which Balzac became famous, the novel provides insight into the author's own childhood. Specific details and events from the author's life – including punishment from teachers and social ostracism – suggest a fictionalized autobiography. Critics panned the novel, but Balzac believed that it provided an important look at philosophy, especially metaphysics. As he developed the scheme for La Comédie humaine, he placed Louis Lambert in the Études philosophiques section, and later returned to the same themes in his novel Séraphîta, about an androgynous angelic creature.

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Kanō Masanobu
Credit: Kanō Masanobu

Zhou Maoshu Appreciating Lotuses, a designated National Treasure of Japan, is a 15th century painting mounted as a hanging scroll by Kanō Masanobu that depicts the 11th century Confucian scholar Zhou Maoshu in a boat floating on a lake with lotuses. Kanō was the chief painter of the Ashikaga shogunate and is generally considered the founder of the Kanō school of painting, which would become the dominant style of painting until the Meiji period.

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Roman Vishniac, c. 1981
Roman Vishniac was a renowned Russian-American photographer, best known for capturing on film the culture of Jews in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust. He was, however, an extremely diverse photographer, an accomplished biologist and a knowledgeable student and teacher of art history. Throughout his life, he made significant scientific contributions to the fields of photomicroscopy and time-lapse photography. He later became a teacher and collector of historic art and artifacts. Vishniac was very interested in history, especially that of his ancestors. In turn, he was strongly tied to his Jewish roots and was a Zionist later in life. Roman Vishniac won international acclaim for his photography: his pictures from the shtetlach and Jewish ghettos, celebrity portraits, and images of microscopic biology. He is known for his book A Vanished World, published in 1947, which was one of the first such pictorial documentations of Jewish culture in Eastern Europe from that period. He is known also for his extreme humanism and respect and awe for life, sentiments that can be seen in all aspects of his work.

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La marcha real (The Royal March), the National Anthem of Spain, performed by the United States Navy Band. It is one of the oldest national anthems in the world as it was adopted in 1770, though, due to its age, the composer is unknown. It is also one of the few national anthems without words.

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Salvador Dalí
Salvador Dalí, People (September 27, 1976)

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