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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.

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Harris Theater (left) and The Heritage at Millennium Park (right) viewed from Randolph Street
The Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance is a 1525-seat theater for the performing arts located along the northern edge of Millennium Park in the Loop community area of Chicago. The theater was named for its primary benefactors, Joan and Irving Harris. It serves as the Park's indoor performing venue, a complement to Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which hosts the park's outdoor performances. Constructed in 2002–03, it is the city's premier performance venue for small- and medium-sized music and dance groups. It provides subsidized rental, technical expertise, and marketing support for the companies using it, and turned a profit in its fourth fiscal year. The Harris Theater has hosted notable national and international performers, such as the New York City Ballet's first visit to Chicago in over 25 years (in 2006). Performances have included the San Francisco Ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Stephen Sondheim. The theater has been credited as contributing to the performing arts renaissance in Chicago, and has been favourably reviewed for its acoustics, sightlines, proscenium and for providing a home for numerous performing organisations.

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Kanō MasanobuCredit: 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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The Naked Maja by Francisco Goya


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Holkham Hall
Matthew Brettingham (1699–1769) was an 18th-century Englishman who rose from humble origins to supervise the construction of Holkham Hall, and eventually became one of the country's better-known architects of his generation. Much of his principal work has since been demolished, particularly his work in London, where he revolutionised the design of the grand townhouse. As a result he is often overlooked today, remembered only for his Palladian remodeling of numerous country houses, many of them situated in the East Anglian area of Britain. As Brettingham neared the pinnacle of his career, Palladianism began to fall out of fashion and neoclassicism was introduced, championed by a young Robert Adam. Brettingham was the second son of Launcelot Brettingham, a bricklayer or stonemason from Norwich, the county town of Norfolk, England.

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Giuseppe Verdi. Portrait by Giovanni Boldini, 1886

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