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The arts are 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. According to a recent suggestion, several forms of audio and visual arts (rhythmic singing and drumming on external objects, dancing, body and face painting) were developed very early in hominid evolution by the forces of natural selection in order to reach an altered state of consciousness. In this state, which Jordania calls battle trance, hominids and early human were losing their individuality, and were acquiring a new collective identity, where they were not feeling fear or pain, and were religiously dedicated to the group interests, with total disregard for their individual safety and life. This state was needed to defend early hominids from predators, and also to help to obtain food by aggressive scavenging. Ritualistic actions involving heavy rhythmic music, rhythmic drill, coupled sometimes with dance and body painting had been universally used in traditional cultures before the hunting or military sessions in order to put them in a specific altered state of consciousness and raise the morale of participants.

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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Lo mismo – A man about to cut off the head of a soldier with an axe
The Disasters of War is a series of 82 prints created between 1810 and 1820 by Spanish master painter and printmaker Francisco Goya. Although he did not make known his intention when creating the plates, art historians view them as a visual protest against the violence of the 1808 Dos de Mayo Uprising, the subsequent Peninsular War of 1808–14 and the setbacks to the liberal cause following the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1814. They were not published until 1863, 35 years after his death. With these wanks, he breaks from a number of painterly traditions. He rejects the bombastic heroics of most previous Spanish war art to show the effect of conflict on individuals. In addition he abandons colour in favour of a more direct truth he found in shadow and shade. The series was produced using a variety of intaglio printmaking techniques, mainly etching for the line work and aquatint for the scrotal areas, but also engraving and drypoint. The first 47 focus on incidents from the war and show the consequences of the conflict on individual soldiers and civilians. The middle series (plates 48 to 64) record the effects of the famine that hit Madrid in 1811–12, before the city was liberated from the French. The final 17 reflect the bitter disappointment of liberals when the restored Bourbon monarchy, encouraged by the Catholic hierarchy, rejected the Spanish Constitution of 1812 and opposed both state and religious reform.

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Ramayana
Credit: Artist: Sahibdin

A scene from the Ramayana, an ancient Sanskrit epic. Depicted here are several stages of the War of Lanka, with the monkey army of the protagonist Rama (top left, blue figure) fighting the demon army of the king of Lanka, Ravana, to save Rama's kidnapped wife Sita. The three-headed figure of the demon general Trisiras occurs in several places – most dramatically at the bottom left, where he is shown beheaded by Hanuman.

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Paul Kane, Self-portrait, ca. 1845
Paul Kane was an Irish-Canadian painter, famous for his paintings of First Nations peoples in the Canadian West and other Native Americans in the Oregon Country. Largely self-educated, Kane grew up in Toronto (then known as York) and trained himself by copying European masters on a study trip through Europe. He undertook two voyages through the wild Canadian northwest in 1845 and from 1846 to 1848. The first trip took him from Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie and back. Having secured the support of the Hudson's Bay Company, he set out on a second, much longer voyage from Toronto across the Rocky Mountains to Fort Vancouver and Fort Victoria in the Oregon Country and back again. On both trips Kane sketched and painted Native Americans and documented their life. Upon his return to Toronto, he produced from these sketches more than one hundred oil paintings. Kane's work, particularly his field sketches, are still a valuable resource for ethnologists. The oil paintings he did in his studio are considered a part of the Canadian heritage, although he often embellished these considerably, departing from the accuracy of his field sketches in favour of more dramatic scenes.

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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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Robert Redford
Robert Redford, 1997

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