Fine art

Fine art

"Fine art" is any art form developed primarily for aesthetics rather than utility. [ [ fine arts]] This type of art is often expressed in a limited number of visual and performing art forms, including painting, sculpture, dance, theatre, architecture and printmaking. Schools, institutes, and other organizations still use the term to indicate a traditional perspective on the art forms, often implying an association with classic or academic art.


The word "fine" does not so much denote the quality of the artwork in question, but the purity of the discipline.

"Imitation, then, is one instinct of our nature. Next, there is the instinct for 'harmony' and rhythm, meters being manifestly sections of rhythm. Persons, therefore, starting with this natural gift developed by degrees their special aptitudes, till their rude improvisations gave birth to Poetry." -Aristotle [Aristotle. The Poetics, Republic. Note: Although speaking mostly of poetry here, the Ancient greeks often speak of the arts collectively.]
This definition tends to exclude visual art forms that could be considered craftwork or applied art, such as textiles. The more recent term "visual arts" is widely considered to be a more inclusive and descriptive phrase for today's variety of current art practices, and for the multitude of media in which high art is now more widely recognized to occur.

The term is still often used outside of the arts to denote when someone has perfected an activity to a very high level of skill. For example, one might metaphorically say that "Pelé took football to the level of a "fine art"."

That fine art is seen as being distinct from applied arts is largely the result of an issue raised in Britain by the conflict between the followers of the Arts and Crafts Movement, including William Morris, and the early modernists, including Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group. The former sought to bring socialist principles to bear on the arts by including the more commonplace crafts of the masses within the realm of the arts, while the modernists sought to keep artistic endeavor as exclusive and esoteric.

Confusion often occurs when people mistakenly refer to the Fine Arts but mean the Performing Arts (Music, Dance, Drama, etc). However, there is some disagreement here, as, for example, at York University, Fine Arts is a faculty that includes the "traditional" fine arts, design, "and" the "Performing Arts". Furthermore, creative writing is frequently considered a fine art as well.


An illustration is a visualization such as a drawing, painting, photograph or other work of art that stresses subject more than form. The aim of an illustration is to elucidate or decorate textual information (such as a story, poem or newspaper article) by providing a visual representation.

Painting and drawing

Drawing is a form of visual expression and is one of the major forms within the visual arts. Common instruments include graphite pencils, pen and ink, inked brushes, wax color pencils, crayons, charcoals, chalk, pastels, markers, stylus, or various metals like silverpoint. There are a number of subcategories of drawing, including cartooning. Certain drawing methods or approaches, such as "doodling" and other informal kinds of drawing such as drawing in the fog a shower leaves on a bathroom mirror, or the surrealist method of "entopic graphomania," in which dots are made at the sites of impurities in a blank sheet of paper, and lines are then made between the dots, may or may not be considered as part of "drawing" as a "fine art."

Comics are a graphic medium in which images are utilised in order to convey a sequential narrative. Comics are typically seen as a low art [cite book | author=Dowd, Douglas Bevan | coauthors=Hignite, Todd | title=Strips, Toons, and Bluesies: Essays in Comics and Culture | publisher=Princeton Architectural Press | year=2006 | id=ISBN 1568986211] [cite book | author=Varnedoe, Kirk | coauthors=Gopnik, Adam | title=Modern Art and Popular Culture: Readings in High & Low | year=1990 | publisher=Abrams in association with the Museum of Modern Art | isbn=0870703560] [cite book | author=Bollinger, Tim | editor="Nga Pakiwaituhi o Aotearoa: New Zealand Comics", Horrocks, Dylan (ed.) | year=2000 | publisher=Hicksville Press | title=Comics in the Antipodes: a low art in a low place | isbn=0-473-06708-0] [cite book | author=Gold, Glen David | editor="Masters of American Comics", Carlin, John, Karasik, Paul & Walker, Brian (ed.) | title=Jack Kirby | pages=262 | publisher=Yale University Press | year=2005 | isbn=030011317X] [cite book | author=Fielder, Leslie | editor="Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium", Heer, Jeet & Worcester, Kent (ed.)| title=The Middle Against Both Ends | origyear=1955 | year=2004 | publisher=Univ. Press of Mississippi | pages=132 | isbn=1578066875] [cite book | author=Groensteen, Thierry | title=Why are Comics Still in Search of Cultural Legitimization? | editor="Comics & Culture: Analytical and Theoretical Approaches to Comics", Anne Magnussen & Hans-Christian Christiansen (ed.)| publisher=Museum Tusculanum Press | year=2000 | isbn=8772895802 ] , although there are a few exceptions, such as Krazy Kat [Gilbert Seldes, "The 7 Lively Arts", Harper, 1924, ASIN B000M1MMBC] and Barnaby. In the late 20th and early 21st century there has been a movement to rehabilitate the medium.

Printmaking and imaging

Printmaking is the process of making artworks by printing, normally on paper. Except in the case of monotyping, the process is capable of producing multiples of the same piece, which is called a print. Each piece is not a copy but an original since it is not a reproduction of another work of art and is technically known as an impression. Painting or drawing, on the other hand, create a unique original piece of artwork. Prints are created from a single original surface, known technically as a matrix. Common types of matrices include: plates of metal, usually copper or zinc for engraving or etching; stone, used for lithography; blocks of wood for woodcuts, linoleum for linocuts and fabric plates for screen-printing. But there are many other kinds, discussed below. Works printed from a single plate create an edition, in modern times usually each signed and numbered to form a limited edition. Prints may also be published in book form, as artist's books. A single print could be the product of one or multiple techniques.

Fine art photography refers to photographs that are created to fulfill the creative vision of the artist. Fine art photography stands in contrast to photojournalism and commercial photography. Photojournalism provides visual support for stories, mainly in the print media. "Fine art photography" is created primarily as an expression of the artist’s vision, but has also been important in advancing certain causes. The work of Ansel Adams' in Yosemite and Yellowstone provides an example. Adams is one of the most widely recognized fine art photographers of the 20th century, and was an avid promoter of conservation. While his primary focus was on photography as art, his work raised public awareness of the beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountains and helped to build political support for their protection.


Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping hard or plastic material, commonly stone (either rock or marble), metal, or wood. Some sculptures are created directly by carving; others are assembled, built up and fired, welded, molded, or cast. Because sculpture involves the use of materials that can be moulded or modulated, it is considered one of the plastic arts. The majority of public art is sculpture. Many sculptures together in a garden setting may be referred to as a sculpture garden.


Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, [ [ britannica] ] used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting."Dance" is also used to describe methods of non-verbal communication (see body language) between humans or animals (bee dance, patterns of behaviour such as a mating dance), motion in inanimate objects ("the leaves danced in the wind"), and certain musical forms or genres. In sports, gymnastics, figure skating and synchronized swimming are "dance" disciplines while martial arts "kata" are often compared to dances.


Modern Western theatre is dominated by realism, including drama and comedy. Another popular Western form is musical theater. Classical forms of theatre, including Greek and Roman drama, classic English drama including Shakespeare and Marlowe and French theater including Molière is still performed today. In addition, performances of classic Eastern forms such as Noh and Kabuki can be found in the West, although with less frequency.

Fine arts film is a term that encompasses high quality motion pictures and the field of film as an fine art form. A fine arts movie theater are venues, usually a building, for viewing such movies. Films are produced by recording images from the world with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or special effects. Films are cultural artifacts created by specific cultures, which reflect those cultures, and, in turn, affect them. Film is considered to be an important art form, a source of popular entertainment and a powerful method for educating — or indoctrinating — citizens. The visual elements of cinema gives motion pictures a universal power of communication. Some films have become popular worldwide attractions by using dubbing or subtitles that translate the dialogue.

Cinematography is the discipline of making lighting and camera choices when recording photographic images for the cinema. It is closely related to the art of still photography, though many additional issues arise when both the camera and elements of the scene may be in motion. Independent filmmaking often takes place outside of Hollywood, or other major studio systems. An independent film (or indie film) is a film initially produced without financing or distribution from a major movie studio. Creative, business, and technological reasons have all contributed to the growth of the indie film scene in the late 20th and early 21st century.


Architecture is frequently considered a fine art, especially if its aesthetic components are spotlighted [in contrast to structural-engineering or construction-management components] . Architectural works are perceived as cultural and political symbols and works of art. Historical civilizations are often known primarily through their architectural achievements. Such buildings as the pyramids of Egypt and the Roman Colosseum are cultural symbols, and are an important link in public consciousness, even when scholars have discovered much about a past civilization through other means. Cities, regions and cultures continue to identify themselves with (and are known by) their architectural monuments. [The Tower Bridge, the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum are representative of the buildings used on advertising brochures.]


Western art music is a performing art and frequently considered a fine art.
Avant-garde music is frequently considered both a performing art and a fine art.
Electronic Media (perhaps the newest medium for fine art, since it utilizes modern technologies such as computer hardware and software from production to presentation. Includes amongst other things video, digital photography, digital printmaking and interactive pieces).
Textiles, including quilt art and "wearables" or "pre-wearables" frequently considered fine art if part of an art display

Academic study

An academic course of study in fine art may include a Bachelor of Fine Arts and/or a Master of Fine Arts degree. Doctor of Fine Arts degrees (earned as opposed to honorary degrees) have begun to emerge as well at some academic institutions.

ee also

* Contemporary art
* Aesthetics
* Art
* Visual arts
* Mathematics and art


Further reading

* Crane, L., & Whiting, C. G. (1885). [ Art and the formation of taste: six lectures] . Boston: Chautauqua Press. [ Chapter 4 : Fine Arts]
* Hegel, G. W. F. (1998). [ Aesthetics: lectures on fine art] . Oxford: Clarendon Press.
* Caffin, Charles Henry. (1901). [ Photography as a fine art; the achievements and possibilities of photographic art in America] . New York: Doubleday, Page & Co.
* Rossetti, W. M. (1867). [ Fine art, chiefly contemporary: notices re-printed, with revisions] . London: Macmillan.
* Neville, H. (1875). [ The stage: its past and present in relation to fine art] . London: R. Bentley and Son.
* Torrey, J. (1874). [ A theory of fine art] . New York: Scribner, Armstrong, and Co.
* Weale, J. (1860). [ Rudimentary dictionary of terms used in architecture, civil, architecture, naval, building and construction, early and ecclesiastical art, engineering, civil, engineering, mechanical, fine art, mining, surveying, etc] . London: Weale.
* Hegel, G. W. F., & Bosanquet, B. (1905). [ The introduction to Hegel's Philosophy of fine art] . London: K. Paul, Trench &.
* Ballard, A. (1898). [ Arrows; or, Teaching a fine art] . New York: A.S. Barnes & Company.

External articles

* [ "United States Senate Catalogue of Fine Art"] , U.S. Senate Commission on Art (2002). Available in PDF format.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • fine art — fine arts 1) N UNCOUNT: also N in pl Painting and sculpture, in which objects are produced that are beautiful rather than useful, can be referred to as fine art or as the fine arts. He deals in antiques and fine art. ...the university of Cairo s… …   English dictionary

  • fine art — n [U] the fine arts forms of art, especially paintings or ↑sculpture, that are produced and admired for their beauty and high quality ▪ Can photography be considered fine art? ▪ the faculty of fine arts …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • fine art — n. [orig. considered purely aesthetic, as distinguished from the “useful” arts] 1. any of the art forms that include drawing, painting, sculpture, and ceramics, or occasionally, architecture, literature, music, dramatic art, or dancing usually… …   English World dictionary

  • fine art — noun uncount objects such as paintings that are created to be looked at because they are beautiful or interesting have/get something down to a fine art INFORMAL to be or become very good at doing something, especially something difficult the fine …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • fine art — fine′ art′ [[t]faɪn[/t]] n. fia a visual art created primarily for aesthetic purposes and valued for its beauty or expressiveness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, or architecture • Etymology: 1760–70 …   From formal English to slang

  • fine art — ► NOUN ▪ art intended to be appreciated primarily or solely for its aesthetic content …   English terms dictionary

  • fine art — /faɪn ˈat/ (say fuyn aht) noun 1. an art form categorised as one of the fine arts. See fine arts. 2. anything carried to an extreme of skill or sophistication: *I can see that among other things I ll have to teach you the fine art of… …   Australian-English dictionary

  • fine art — noun (U) 1 paintings, drawings, music, sculpture etc that is of very good quality: the question of whether photography should be considered fine art 2 have something down to a fine art to be extremely good at something after having practised a… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • fine art — UK / US noun [uncountable] art objects such as paintings and sculptures that are created to be looked at because they are beautiful or interesting. Fine art is different to crafts or art that has a practical use. • have/get something down to a… …   English dictionary

  • fine art — noun Date: 1739 1. a. art (as painting, sculpture, or music) concerned primarily with the creation of beautiful objects usually used in plural b. objects of fine art 2. an activity requiring a fine skill …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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