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Portal:Arts

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The Parthenon

The Parthenon on top of the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

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 Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch
The Garden of Earthly Delights is a triptych painted by the early Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450–1516), housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid since 1939. Dating from 1503 and 1504, when Bosch was about 50 years old, it is his best-known and most ambitious work. Bosch's masterpiece reveals the artist at the height of his powers. The triptych comprises three sections, a square inner panel with rectangular panels on either side which close as shutters. The panels are painted in oil, the exterior panels of the shutters being in grisaille. The outer wings, when folded shut, show the earth during the Creation. The three scenes of the inner triptych are probably intended to be read chronologically from left to right. The left panel depicts God presenting to Adam the newly created Eve. The central panel is a broad panorama of sexually engaged nude figures, fantastical animals, oversized and gorged fruit, and hybrid stone formations. The right panel is a hellscape and portrays the torments of damnation. Art historians and critics frequently interpret the painting as a didactic warning on the perils of life's temptations. American writer Peter S. Beagle describes it as an "erotic derangement that turns us all into voyeurs, a place filled with the intoxicating air of perfect liberty".

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Qianlong Emperor
Credit: Giuseppe Castiglione

The Qianlong Emperor was the sixth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty, and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China. The fourth son of the Yongzheng Emperor, his reign officially began 11 October 1735, lasting for 60 years. Named Hongli, he chose the era name Qianlong, meaning "heavenly prosperity". Although his early years saw the continuation of an era of prosperity and great military success in China, his final years saw troubles at home and abroad converge on the Qing Empire. Qianlong abdicated the throne at the age of 85, to his son, the Jiaqing Emperor, fulfilling his promise not to reign longer than his grandfather, the Kangxi Emperor.

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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.

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