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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Temple at Phile
Egyptian temples were built for the official worship of the gods and commemoration of pharaohs in ancient Egypt. Within them the Egyptians performed the central functions of Egyptian religion: giving offerings to the gods, reenacting their mythological interactions through festivals, and warding off the forces of chaos. These rituals were seen as necessary for the gods to continue to uphold the divine order of the universe. Most of the populace was forbidden from entering temples' most sacred areas, but temples were still important religious sites for all classes of Egyptians. Temples are among the largest and most enduring examples of Egyptian architecture, with their elements arranged and decorated according to complex patterns of religious symbolism. A large temple owned sizable tracts of land and employed thousands of laymen to supply its needs. Some temples have become world-famous tourist attractions that contribute significantly to the modern Egyptian economy. Egyptologists continue to study the surviving temples, as they are invaluable sources of information about ancient Egyptian society.

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Megalith on Nias, IndonesiaCredit: 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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I. M. Pei in 2006
I. M. Pei (born 1917) is a Chinese American architect, often called a master of modern architecture. Born in Guangzhou, in 1935 he moved to the United States. While enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he became unhappy with the school's focus on Beaux-Arts architecture, and spent his free time researching the emerging architects, especially Le Corbusier. After graduating, he joined the Harvard Graduate School of Design and formed a friendship with the Bauhaus architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. Pei spent ten years working with New York real estate magnate William Zeckendorf before establishing his own independent design firm that eventually became Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Among the early projects on which Pei took the lead were the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC, and the Green Building at MIT. His first major recognition came with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado; his new stature led to his selection as chief architect for the John F. Kennedy Library in Massachusetts. He went on to design Dallas City Hall and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art. In the early 1980s, Pei was the focus of controversy when he designed a glass-and-steel pyramid for the Louvre museum in Paris. Pei has won a wide variety of prizes and awards in the field of architecture, including the 1983 Pritzker Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Prize of architecture.

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Antonio Soler was a Spanish composer, primarily for organ. This is his 84th sonata, performed by Wikipedian Ashtar Moïra.

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