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Visual Arts

These are the arts that meet the eye and evoke an emotion through an expression of skill and imagination. They include the most ancient forms, such as painting and drawing, and the arts that were born thanks to the development of technology, like sculpture, printmaking, photography, and installation art, the latter a combination of multiple creative expressions. Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, different eras in art history have had their own principles to define beauty, from the richly ornamented taste of the Baroque to the simple, utilitarian style of the Prairie School.
Browse Subcategories

Featured content, May 22, 2020

Street Photography: How a Single Camera Brought About a Genre
The invention of the Leica camera allowed photographers to move through the streets and capture moments that come and go…
Companion / Visual Arts
vintage Leica photo camera at KPI Museum, July 24, 2015, in Kiev, Ukraine
The Group of Seven Remembered
In the 1910s and ’20s, Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven created Canada’s first important national art movement with their…
Spotlight / Visual Arts
A visitor looks at Tom Thomson's painting 'The West Wind' at an exhibition unveiled in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Sept. 10, 2004.
The Most Stolen Work of Art
Jan van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece has been stolen by Napoleon and Hitler, among others.
#WTFact / Visual Arts
Click on image for enlargements of panel sections. The Ghent Altarpiece (open view) by Jan and Hubert van Eyck, 1432, polyptych with 12 panels, oil on panel; in the Cathedral of Saint-Bavon, Ghent, Belg.
When did women start wearing pants?
(In Western society, anyway.)
Demystified / Visual Arts
Girl worker at lunch also absorbing California sunshine, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif.1942
Famous West Indians in Sports and Entertainment
Find out more about influential actors, musicians, and athletes from the West Indies.
List / Visual Arts
Barbadian singer Rihanna, 2018.
Sculpture
Sculpture, an artistic form in which hard or plastic materials are worked into three-dimensional art objects. The designs…
Encyclopedia / Visual Arts
Torso of a Young Girl, onyx on a stone base by Constantin Brancusi, 1922; in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky, Russian-born artist, one of the first creators of pure abstraction in modern painting. After successful…
Biography
Wassily Kandinsky.
Japanese art
Japanese art, the painting, calligraphy, architecture, pottery, sculpture, bronzes, jade carving, and other fine or decorative…
Encyclopedia / Visual Arts
The Breaking Wave off Kanagawa, woodblock colour print by Hokusai, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, 1826–33.

Visual Arts Quizzes

Jeff Bridges as The Dude, Steve Buscemi as Donny, and John Goodman as Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski, 1998. Directed by the Coen Brothers.
Coen Brothers
Do you think you know about the films of Joel and Ethan Coen? Test your knowledge with this quiz.
Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, with her dog, Toto, from the motion picture film The Wizard of Oz (1939); directed by Mervyn LeRay. (cinema, movies)
Classic Closing Lines
Some classic movies have memorable last lines. See if you know who said what where.
Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) directing on the set of the film - Barry Lyndon (1975) motion picture director movie screenwriter
Stanley Kubrick
Do you think you know about the films of Stanley Kubrick? Test your knowledge with this quiz.
Rodin Museum, Paris.
Museums of the Western World
Test your knowledge of museums that hold some of the world’s greatest paintings, sculptures, and other pieces of art.
David Statue, Michelangelo. Florence, Italy.
Leonardo da Vinci versus Michelangelo
It’s hard to say who was better, Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo. It might be even harder to remember which one did what.…
Drury Lane Theatre (London, England) showing a Roman play in progress, print (black ink with watercolor on paper), 1808; design by Thomas Rowlandson and August Charles Pugin. (theaters)
Actors and Acting Quiz
Do you know who founded the Old Vic? Who made her name starring in Funny Girl? Test your knowledge of actors and…
Aerial view of Florence (Firenze), Italy from the campanile of the Duomo, with the gigantic dome (designed by Filippo Brunelleschi) in the foreground. Unidentifiable tourists are visible on top of the dome, which provide a measure of the building s scale.
History of Architecture Quiz
Which emperor built the Taj Mahal? Who designed the Lincoln Memorial? What’s a baldachin? Test your knowledge of architectural…
Shadow puppet (wayang kujlit), Indonesia. (puppetry, theater, theatre)
A History of Theatre Quiz
Shakespeare claimed that all the world’s a stage, but there are no questions about him in this quiz. Figure out how much…
"The Large Plane Trees" (Road Menders at Saint-Remy) oil on fabric by Vincent van Gogh, 1889; in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Which Artist? Part One Quiz
Which artist originated the art of assemblage? Who was King Charles I’s court painter? Test what you know about artists (and…
Art Nouveau wall covering of poppies by Albert Ainsworth of machine printed on oatmeal paper made in Hackensack, New Jersey, c. 1905.
Art at Random Quiz
Test your knowledge of the deepest nooks and crannies of art history with this quiz.
Image Gallery
Visual Arts
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Visual Arts Subcategories

Anubis weighing the soul of the scribe Ani, from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, c. 1275 bce. Architecture
Architecture is a sphere of art and design in which functionality and aesthetics can combine to produce visually stunning structures that manage to both catch the eye and serve a functional purpose. The expansive variety of architectural styles that have been employed throughout the ages underscores the fact that not every building need look the same, a principle that is readily apparent when comparing Gothic cathedrals with igloos or pagodas with cliff dwellings. Noted architects such as Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, I.M. Pei, Zaha Hadid, and Jeanne Gang are acclaimed not only for the striking aesthetics of their designs but also for the way in which their work reflected cultural themes and values. Although architecture is commonly associated first and foremost with the design and construction of buildings, landscape architects may work with gardens, parks, and other planned outdoor areas, aiding in the development and decorative planning of such spaces.
Articles
subcategory placeholder Arts Awards
Awards such as the Praemium Imperiale and the Pritzker Prize honor artists for a job well done.
Articles
Scene from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Decorative Art
People appreciate the usefulness of things like glassware and furniture, but they appreciate such objects even more when they’re aesthetically pleasing, too. That’s where decorative art comes in. Explore the world of basketry, metalwork, pottery, interior design, tapestry, and more.
Articles
girdle Fashion Design
Looking to make a statement without even saying a word? Fashion designers know that clothing and accessories can speak volumes about the wearer, affecting both how the wearer is perceived by others and how the wearer perceives of him- or herself. The fashion industry has become a multibillion-dollar global enterprise devoted to the business of making and selling clothes; it thrives by being diverse and flexible enough to gratify any consumer's desire to embrace or even to reject fashionability, however that term might be defined.
Articles
Jane Avril, lithograph poster by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1893; in the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, Albi, France. Graphic Art
Calligraphy, graffiti, engraving, caricature: graphic art's domain stretches as far as the eye can see. Take a look at some of the other types of graphic art, and learn more about the artists working within this category of fine arts.
Articles
subcategory placeholder Installation & Performance Art
Learn about the artists who create installation art, which can incorporate a variety of different materials and artistic forms, such as sculptures, videos, and music, all with the purpose of transforming a given space. Performance artists may also make use of videos and music—as well as such varied elements as acting, poetry, dance, and painting—to create a live presentation for an audience; here, the "audience" could simply consist of onlookers on the street or patrons browsing the halls of a museum, among countless other possibilities.
Articles
“Miracle of St. George over the Dragon,” icon by an anonymous artist of the Novgorod school, egg tempera on panel, beginning of the 15th century; in the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, I.A. Ostroukhov Collection Painting
Need help distinguishing your Picassos from your Monets? Learn about history’s celebrated painters and the different styles, techniques, mediums, and forms that have been used to create such unique visual images as Salvador Dalí’s melting clock and the ever-shifting eyes of Leonardo da Vinci’s enigmatic Mona Lisa.
Articles
Becher, Bernd; Becher, Hilla Photography
Photography’s history began long before we were snapping pictures on camera phones. Learn about the masters of the craft and explore the development of photographic technology as it progressed through daguerreotypes and tintypes on the way to modern day’s increasingly sophisticated digital cameras.
Articles
Apollo and Daphne, marble sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1622–24; in the Borghese Gallery, Rome. Sculpture
Looking to find a use for that extra clay, stone, plaster, or metal that you have lying around? Consider sculpture, in which artists employ these materials and others to create three-dimensional art. Perhaps you’ll join the ranks of noted sculptors such as Michelangelo, Auguste Rodin, and Donatello.
Articles
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