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The Arts Portal

The arts is a vast subdivision of culture, encompassing many creative endeavors and disciplines. It is a broader term than "art", which, used as 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.

Featured article

An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1768
An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump is a 1768 oil-on-canvas painting by Joseph Wright of Derby, part of a series of candlelit scenes that Wright painted during the 1760s. The Air Pump departed from previous painting conventions by depicting a scientific subject in the reverential manner formerly reserved for scenes of historical and religious significance. Wright was intimately involved in depicting the Industrial Revolution and the scientific advances of the Enlightenment, but while his paintings were recognized as something out of the ordinary by his contemporaries, his provincial status and choice of subjects meant the style was never widely imitated. The picture has been owned by the National Gallery since 1863 and is still regarded as a masterpiece of British art. The painting depicts a natural philosopher, a forerunner of the modern scientist, recreating one of Robert Boyle's air pump experiments, in which a bird is deprived of oxygen, before a varied group of onlookers. The group exhibit different reactions, but for most scientific curiosity overcomes concern for the bird. The central figure looks out of the picture as if inviting the viewer's participation in the outcome.

Featured picture

Drawing of a Palenque reliefCredit: Artist: Ricardo Almendáriz; Restoration: Lise Broer

An ink-and-wash illustration of a stucco relief on a building in Palenque, a Maya city in southern Mexico that flourished in the 7th century, but was abandoned around 800. It was first discovered by European explorers in the 16th century, but remained mostly unexplored until 1773. This particular piece was likely constructed during the long reign of K'inich Janaab' Pakal (mid-7th century), and is thought to depict Mayan ancestral rulers or the parents thereof. The standing figure holds a sceptre in the left hand, and in the right, a length of material. The seated figures adopt a posture of submission or deference, with hands placed on opposite shoulders.

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Class II 1804 Silver Dollar

In this month

The Naked Maja by Francisco Goya


  • March 13: Pixar Studios animator Bud Luckey, designer of Toy Story's Woody, dies aged 83
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  • December 8: Wikinews attends ComicCon in Bangalore, India
  • November 7: Kazakhstan: President Nazarbayev signs decree to change Kazakh characters from Cyrillic to Latin-based script
Arts on Wikinews

Featured biography

Sir William Bruce
William Bruce was a Scottish gentleman-architect, "the effective founder of classical architecture in Scotland", as Howard Colvin observes. A key figure in introducing the Palladian style into Scotland, he has been compared to the pioneering English architects Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren, and to the contemporaneous English introducers of French style in domestic architecture Hugh May and Roger Pratt. Bruce played a role in the Restoration of Charles II, carrying messages between the exiled king and General Monck, and was rewarded with lucrative official appointments, including that of Surveyor General of the King's Works in Scotland, effectively the "king's architect". His patrons included the Duke of Lauderdale, the most powerful man in Scotland at the time. Despite his lack of technical expertise, he worked with competent masons and professional builders, to whom he imparted a classical vocabulary; thus his influence was carried far beyond his own aristocratic circle. Beginning in the 1660s he built and remodelled a number of country houses, including Thirlestane Castle for the Duke of Lauderdale, and Hopetoun House. Among his most significant work was his own Palladian mansion at Kinross, built on the Loch Leven estate which he had purchased in 1675.

Featured audio

Frank C. Stanley's 1910 performance of Robert Burns' Auld Lang Syne. Contains the first and last verse.



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Francis Ford Coppola

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