Portal:Arts

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An artist's palette

An artist's palette

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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Frances Griffiths with Fairies
The Cottingley Fairies appear in a series of five photographs taken by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, two young cousins who lived in Cottingley, near Bradford in England. In 1917, when the first two photographs were taken, Elsie was 16 years old and Frances was 10. The pictures came to the attention of writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who used them to illustrate an article on fairies he had been commissioned to write for the Christmas 1920 edition of The Strand Magazine. Conan Doyle, as a Spiritualist, was enthusiastic about the photographs, and interpreted them as clear and visible evidence of psychic phenomena. Public reaction was mixed; some accepted that the images were genuine, but others believed they had been faked. Interest in the Cottingley Fairies gradually declined after 1921. Both girls grew up, married and lived abroad for a time. Yet the photographs continued to hold the public imagination; in 1966 a reporter from the Daily Express newspaper traced Elsie, who had by then returned to the UK. Elsie left open the possibility that she believed she had photographed her thoughts, and the media once again became interested in the story. In the early 1980s, both admitted that the photographs were faked using cardboard cutouts of fairies copied from a popular children's book of the time. But Frances continued to claim that the fifth and final photograph was genuine. The photographs and two of the cameras used are on display in the National Media Museum in Bradford.

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Megalith on Nias, Indonesia
Credit: Photo: Ludwig Borutta; Restoration: Lise Broer

Megaliths, some decorated, were a part of the culture of the island of Nias off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Among the many uses of these large stones were statues, seats for the chieftains, and tables where justice was done. Additionally, some stones commemorated the deaths of important people. In this 1915 photo, such a stone is hauled upwards, reportedly taking 525 people three days to erect in the village of Bawemataloeo.

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Bronwyn Bancroft
Bronwyn Bancroft (born 1958) is an Indigenous Australian artist, notable for being the first Australian fashion designer invited to show her work in Paris. Born in Tenterfield, New South Wales, and trained in Canberra and Sydney, Bancroft worked as a fashion designer, and is an artist, illustrator, and arts administrator. In 1985 Bancroft established a shop called Designer Aboriginals, selling fabrics made by Indigenous artists including herself. She was a founding member of Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative. Artwork by Bancroft is held by the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Art Gallery of Western Australia. She has provided artwork for over 20 children's books, including Stradbroke Dreaming by writer and activist Oodgeroo Noonuccal and books by artist and writer Sally Morgan. She has also received design commissions, including one for the exterior of a sports centre in Sydney. With a long history of involvement in community activism and arts administration, Bancroft has served as a board member for the National Gallery of Australia. Her painting Prevention of AIDS (1992) was used in a campaign to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in Australia. As of 2010, Bancroft sits on the boards of copyright collection agency Viscopy and Tranby Aboriginal College, as well as being on the Artists Board at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

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The Coventry Carol, a 16th-century English Christmas Carol, performed by the U.S. Army Band Chorus.

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