The Arts Portal



The arts refers to the theory and physical expression of creativity found in human societies and cultures. Major constituents of the arts include literature (including drama, poetry, and prose), performing arts (among them dance, music, and theatre), and visual arts (including drawing, painting, filmmaking, architecture, ceramics, sculpting, and photography).

Some art forms combine a visual element with performance (e.g., cinematography) or artwork with the written word (e.g., comics). From prehistoric cave paintings to modern day films, art serves as a vessel for storytelling and conveying humankind's relationship with the environment.

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The Laima Clock with the Freedom Monument visible in the background
The Freedom Monument is a memorial, located in Riga, Latvia, in honor of soldiers killed in action during the Latvian War of Independence. It is considered an important symbol of the freedom, independence and sovereignty of Latvia. Unveiled in 1935, the 42-metre (138 ft) high monument of granite, travertine and copper often serves as the focal point of public gatherings and official ceremonies. The sculptures and bas-reliefs of the Freedom Monument, arranged in thirteen groups, depict Latvian culture and history. The core of the monument is composed of tetragonal shapes on top of each other, decreasing in size towards the top, completed by a 19-metre (62 ft) high travertine column bearing the copper figure of Liberty lifting three gilded stars. After several contests the monument was finally built at the beginning of the 1930s according to the scheme "Shine like a star!" by Latvian sculptor Kārlis Zāle. During World War II, Latvia was annexed by the USSR and the Freedom Monument was considered for demolition, but no such move was carried out. Soviet sculptor Vera Mukhina is sometimes credited with the rescue of the monument, possibly because she considered it to be of the highest artistic value. It remained a symbol of national independence to the general public and on 14 June 1987 about 5,000 people gathered there to commemorate the victims of the Soviet regime and to lay flowers. This rally began the national independence movement and three years later the independence of Latvia was re-established.

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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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Gertrude Stein photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1935

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El Greco: Self portrait (1604)
El Greco was a prominent painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance.

El Greco was born in Crete, which was at that time part of the Republic of Venice, and when he was 26 travelled to Venice to study. In 1570 he moved to Rome, where he opened a workshop and executed a series of works. During his stay in Italy, El Greco enriched his style with elements of Mannerism and of the Venetian Renaissance. In 1577, he emigrated to Toledo, Spain, where he lived and worked until his death. In Toledo, El Greco received several major commissions and produced his best known paintings.

El Greco's dramatic and expressionistic style was met with puzzlement by his contemporaries but found appreciation in the 20th century. El Greco is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism, while his personality and works were a source of inspiration for poets and writers such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis. El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school. He is best known for tortuously elongated figures and often fantastic or phantasmagorical pigmentation, marrying Byzantine traditions with those of Western civilization.

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An example of Kyrie eleison being performed as a Gregorian chant, directed by Fr. Dariusz Smolarek SAC.

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