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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Four Times of the Day is a series of four paintings by William Hogarth from 1736, reproduced as a series of four engravings published in 1738. They are humorous depictions of life in the streets of London, the vagaries of fashion, and the interactions between the rich and poor of the capital. Unlike many of Hogarth's other series, such as A Harlot's Progress, A Rake's Progress, Industry and Idleness and The Four Stages of Cruelty, it does not depict the story of an individual, but instead focuses on the society of the city. Hogarth intended the series to be humorous rather than instructional; the pictures do not offer a judgement on whether the rich or poor are more deserving of our sympathies: while the upper and middle classes tend to provide the focus for each scene there are fewer of the moral comparisons seen in some other of his works. The four pictures depict scenes of daily life in various locations in London as the day progresses. Morning shows a prudish spinster making her way to church in Covent Garden past the revellers of the night before; Noon shows two cultures on opposite sides of the street in St Giles; Evening depicts a dyer's family returning hot and bothered from a trip to Sadler's Wells; and Night shows a drunken Freemason staggering home from a night of celebration.

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"I did not raise my girl to be a voter"
Credit: Cartoon: Merle De Vore Johnson; Restoration: Adam Cuerden

"I did not raise my girl to be a voter": A 1915 parody from Puck of the anti-World War I protest song "I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier" with the context altered to women's suffrage. A conductor labeled "political boss" leads a lone female soloist surrounded by a male chorus with various labels including "procurer", "child labor employer", and "sweat shop owner". Arguments in favor of granting women the right to vote included the contention that female voters would support laws that reduced prostitution, labor abuses, and other perceived social evils. The fight for women's suffrage in the United States began in the 1830s, and concluded with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution on August 18, 1920.

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Portrait of Caspar Friedrich by Gerhard von Kügelgen
Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840) was a 19th-century German Romantic landscape painter, generally considered the most important of the movement. He is best known for his mid-period allegorical landscapes, which typically feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees or Gothic ruins. His primary interest as an artist was the contemplation of nature, and his often symbolic and anti-classical work seeks to convey a subjective, emotional response to the natural world. Friedrich's work characteristically sets the human element in diminished perspective amid expansive landscapes, reducing the figures to a scale that, according to the art historian Christopher John Murray, directs "the viewer's gaze towards their metaphysical dimension". Friedrich was born in the Swedish Pomeranian town of Greifswald, where he began his studies in art as a youth. Later, he studied in Copenhagen until 1798, before settling in Dresden. Friedrich's work brought him renown early in his career, and contemporaries such as the French sculptor David d'Angers (1788–1856) spoke of him as a man who had discovered "the tragedy of landscape". However, his work fell from favour during his later years, and he died in obscurity. By the 1920s his paintings had been discovered by the Expressionists, and in the 1930s and early 1940s Surrealists and Existentialists frequently drew ideas from his work.

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Antonio Soler was a Spanish composer, primarily for organ. This is his 84th sonata, performed by Wikipedian Ashtar Moïra.

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Carol Burnett

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