The Arts Portal


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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Crown Fountain is an interactive work of public art and video sculpture featured in Chicago's Millennium Park. Designed by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa and executed by Krueck and Sexton Architects, it opened in July 2004. The fountain is composed of a black granite reflecting pool placed between a pair of glass brick towers. The towers are 50 feet (15.2 m) tall, and they use light-emitting diodes to display digital videos on their inward faces. Weather permitting, the water operates from May to October, intermittently cascading down the two towers and spouting through a nozzle on each tower's front face. The fountain highlights Plensa's themes of dualism, light, and water, extending the use of video technology from his prior works. Crown Fountain has been the most controversial of all the Millennium Park features. Before it was even built, some were concerned that the sculpture's height violated the aesthetic tradition of the park. The fountain has survived its somewhat contentious beginnings to find its way into Chicago pop culture. It is a popular subject for photographers and a common gathering place. The fountain is a public play area and offers people an escape from summer heat, allowing children to frolic in the fountain's water.

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Ancient Mexican calendar
Credit: Artist: A. de Leon y Gama; Restoration: Garrondo/ Lise Broer

An illustration depicting an ancient Mexican calendar. The Maya and Aztec calendars are the most familiar of the Mexican calendars, but similar ones were used by other cultures. Common to all Mesoamerican cultures was the 260-day ritual calendar that had no confirmed correlation to astronomical or agricultural cycles. These were used in combination with a separate 365-day calendar to create a 52-year cycle known as a calendar round.

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Montecito Apartments, Hollywood, California

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1885 hand-coloured albumen silver print by Farsari of three Maiko posing on an engawa
Adolfo Farsari (1841–1898) was an Italian photographer based in Yokohama, Japan. Following a brief military career, including service in the American Civil War, he became a successful entrepreneur and commercial photographer. His photographic work was highly regarded, particularly his hand-coloured portraits and landscapes, which he sold mostly to foreign residents and visitors to the country. Farsari's images were widely distributed, presented or mentioned in books and periodicals, and sometimes recreated by artists in other media; they shaped foreign perceptions of the people and places of Japan and to some degree affected how Japanese saw themselves and their country. His studio – the last notable foreign-owned studio in Japan – was one of the country's largest and most prolific commercial photographic firms. Largely due to Farsari's exacting technical standards and his entrepreneurial abilities it had a significant influence on the development of photography in Japan.

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A Gregorian chant setting of Ave Maria, directed by Fr. Dariusz Smolarek SAC. Ave Maria ( Hail Mary) is a traditional Roman Catholic prayer asking for the help of the Virgin Mary. It is commonly used in mass and as penance for sins.

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Giuseppe Verdi. Portrait by Giovanni Boldini, 1886

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