The Arts Portal



The arts refers to the theory and physical expression of creativity found in human cultures and societies. Major constituents of the arts include literature (including fiction, drama, poetry, and prose), performing arts (among them dance, music, and theatre), and visual arts (including drawing, painting, filmmaking, architecture, ceramics, sculpting, and photography).

Some art forms combine a visual element with performance (e.g., cinematography) or artwork with the written word (e.g., comics). From prehistoric cave paintings to modern day films, art serves as a vessel for storytelling and conveying humankind's relationship with the environment.

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Old-Kannada inscription, 1114 CE at Doddagaddavalli
Hoysala literature is the large body of literature in the Kannada and Sanskrit languages produced by the Hoysala Empire (1025–1343) in what is now southern India. Kannada literature during this period consisted of writings relating to the socio-religious developments of the Jain and Veerashaiva faiths, and to a lesser extent that of the Vaishnava faith. The earliest well-known brahmin writers in Kannada were from the Hoysala court. While most of the courtly textual production was in Kannada, an important corpus of monastic Vaishnava literature relating to Dvaita (dualistic) philosophy was written by the renowned philosopher Madhvacharya in Sanskrit. Writing Kannada literature in native metres was first popularised by the court poets. These metres were the sangatya, compositions sung to the accompaniment of a musical instrument; shatpadi, six-line verses; ragale, lyrical compositions in blank verse; and tripadi, three-line verses. However, Jain writers continued to use the traditional champu, composed of prose and verse. Important literary contributions in Kannada were made not only by court poets but also by noblemen, commanders, ministers, ascetics and saints associated with monasteries.

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WongudanCredit: Photo: Burton Holmes; Restoration: Lise Broer

A 1925 photo of Wongudan, an altar site in Seoul built in 1897 as a location for the performance of the rite of heaven. King Seongjong of the Goryeo Dynasty was the first to perform the rite, designed to ensure a bountiful harvest, in the tenth century. The practice was discontinued by later Goryeo kings, revived briefly in the mid fifteenth century by Sejo of the Joseon Dynasty, then reinstated with the founding of the Korean Empire in 1897. Much of the altar complex was destroyed during the Japanese occupation, and the gate and fountain seen here were also subsequently removed, leaving only the three-storey Hwangungu pagoda remaining.

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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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