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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Funerary Monument to Sir John Hawkwood
The Funerary Monument to Sir John Hawkwood is a fresco by Paolo Uccello, commemorating English condottiero John Hawkwood, commissioned in 1436 for the Florence Cathedral. The fresco is an important example of art commemorating a soldier-for-hire in the Italian peninsula and is a seminal work in the development of perspective. The politics of the commissioning and recommissioning of the fresco have been analyzed and debated by historians. The fresco is often cited as a form of "Florentine propaganda" for its appropriation of a foreign soldier of fortune as a Florentine hero and for its implied promise to other condottieri of the potential rewards of serving Florence. The fresco has also been interpreted as a product of internal political competition between the Albizzi and Medici factions in Renaissance Florence, due to the latter's modification of the work's symbolism and iconography during its recommissioning. The fresco is the oldest extant and authenticated work of Uccello, and from a relatively well-known aspect of his career compared to the periods before and after its creation. The fresco has been restored (once by Lorenzo di Credi, who added the frame) and is now detached from the wall; it has been repositioned twice, in modern times.

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Joan Baez and Bob DylanCredit: Photo: Rowland Scherman, USIA

American folk singers Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, performing a duet at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. Both were relatively new recording artists at the time, with Baez being at the forefront of American roots revival and Dylan having just released his second album. Baez was especially influential in introducing audiences to Dylan's music by recording several of his early songs and inviting him onstage during her own concerts.

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Portrait of Charles Holden by Benjamin Nelson, 1910
Charles Holden (1875–1960) was an English architect better known for designing many London Underground stations during the 1920s and 1930s, for Bristol Central Library, the Underground Electric Railways Company of London's headquarters at 55 Broadway and for the University of London's Senate House. He also created many war cemeteries in Belgium and northern France for the Imperial War Graves Commission. His architecture is widely viewed and appreciated. He won the Royal Institute of British Architects' Royal Gold Medal for architecture in 1936 and was appointed a Royal Designer for Industry in 1943. His station designs for London Underground became the corporation's standard design influencing designs by all architects working for the organisation in the 1930s. Many of his buildings have been granted listed building status, protecting them from unapproved alteration. Due to his modesty and belief in the team effort of his fellow architects, he declined twice the offer of a knighthood.

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A la Nanita Nana, a Spanish Christmas carol, performed by the U.S. Army Band Chorus in Spanish and English.

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