Portal:Arts

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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, in total disregards of 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 (i.e. Zeus' 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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Vanity Fair cover, June 1914
Credit: Artist: Ethel McClellan Plummer; Restoration: Lise Broer

The cover to the June 1914 issue of Vanity Fair, an American magazine published from 1913 to 1936 by Condé Montrose Nast, the first of many published by his company Condé Nast Publications. Nast purchased a men's fashion magazine titled Dress in 1913 and renamed it Dress and Vanity Fair. In 1914, the title was shortened to Vanity Fair. During its run, it competed with The New Yorker as the American establishment's top culture chronicle and featured writing by Thomas Wolfe, T. S. Eliot, P. G. Wodehouse, and Dorothy Parker. However, it became a casualty of the Great Depression and declining advertising revenues, and it was folded into Vogue in 1936. In 1983, Condé Nast revived the title as a new publication.

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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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U.S. Army Band - Lo How a Rose
"Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming", an 1894 English translation of the 16th-century German Christmas carol, "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen". Performed by the chorus of the U.S. Army Band, c. 2010.

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Robert Redford
Whereas money is a means to an end for a filmmaker, to the corporate mind money is the start. Right now, I think independent film is very confused, because there's excess pressure in the marketplace for entertainment to pay off. Entertainment has pervaded every system of information in our culture, and along with it comes the promise of money. So it's hard for artists not to keep half an eye on what works commercially as they go about realizing their visions. As a young filmmaker, you've got to deliver, and you've got to deliver fast these days; that wasn't the case twenty years ago.
Robert Redford, 1997

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