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What Is Visual Arts And Its History

What Is The Definition Of Visual Arts?

The modern proper definition of Visual Arts includes art which is not just visual in nature but also the applied arts.

With this you have the traditional arts such as painting and sculpting, but also now is included craftsmen, designers, and even film makers.

At its core, the visual arts is a broad grouping of arts which provide pleasure through aesthetic appeal within the content of art. Most often this is a form of expression for artistic communication.

Thus if what one does can be considered an art form of some type and is visual in nature it can be classified under this grouping.

Present arts which are included within the visual arts are as follows: applied arts, industrial design, fashion and interior design, decorative arts, crafts, architecture, filmmaking, ceramics, photography, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, painting.

Historical Classification Of Visual Arts

The broad grouping of creative arts we see today were not always classified in this way. Historically the Visual Arts were far more regimented and included only those arts which could be called Fine Arts.

In this category would naturally be painting and sculpting as well as other traditional art. Each meet the criteria of true artistic meaning.

It would not be until the turn of the 20th century that this classification would broaden its horizon. Through the 1900’s each decade brought with it more that would be accepted and qualify for being defined as Visual Arts.

Until this turn in thinking it was the educational institutions which held to the older regimented standards. Yet as the industrial revolution introduced new ideas within the previous century, so would the outcome of what it created influence 20th Century art.

As art and design came to meet more commonly within concepts from fashion to home design, the transition began. Textile arts began to emerge in a new way seeking to meet the demand of aesthetic appeal.

With time the digital world itself became one of the greatest impacts upon the visual world.

Ultimately it was a combination of technology and rising economies with a demand for more refined products which broke the old ways of thinking. It did take time for educational institutions to accept these changes.

Even today these institutions lag behind the trend and direction of where art is moving into. With this comes a legitimate argument over what is to be called Visual Art which we will soon also explore.

How Technology Has Impacted Visual Arts

Due to how broad the modern definition of the Visual Arts has become brings with it new growth through technology. The greatest impact of this can be seen within our most recent modern digital influence upon the design world.

The Applied Arts is where this world meets most commonly within our daily life. Here resides graphic design, industrial design, fashion, and even the decorative arts.

The stroke of this brush is still often so broad that many have a difficult time accepting all that is classified into this category.

I would have to admit that I too have some difficulty in accepting some of what is accepted.

For example I personally do not count the maker or craft community who mass produce items for profit as art. Nevertheless they have been accepted as “artists” for near over half a century.

Where the interdependence is moving though cannot be separated nor isolated within our future. This is clear within the world of graphic design and all it influences.

Digital arts impact both the physical aspects of our life in what we physically can touch, and the virtual world in which we interact with.

This will soon become even more integrated as more virtual reality becomes available. Yet the greatest strides in this interdependence and use will be seen through what is called augmented reality.

Here the Visual Arts reside for not only beauty but also adding functional use to our daily lives.

Fine Arts

Within the Fine Arts we see what anyone would expect to find such as painting, pottery, or charcoal art. Yet there are other arts that resided in this realm which received less focus.

The Textile Arts for example have been with us since the dawn of time.

Sculpting is another common one which one would expect within this category of history. Yet another lesser recognized art was the traditional illustration within books.

These were made by artists before the advent of a printing press which could duplicate from one copy.

It is interesting to see that the educational systems of history had what they believed was inclusive to the Visual Arts while others were ignored or lesser known. In this way the history of the Visual Arts is not that much different from today.

The key difference in why more has been accepted is due to the power behind the economy of design and art merging for public benefit.

Contemporary Arts

The Contemporary Arts would be what would break through many traditional barriers of history. An example of this can be seen within the performance arts.

Due to the popularity of film making and its ability to impact the world it was inevitable that this would be accepted as a Visual Art. Yet it would take until somewhere near the 1960’s for it to be broadly accepted by higher institutions at this capacity.

Historically this was never done in Classical Art. Even among the Greeks there were five primary arts. They were architecture, sculpting, painting, pottery, and jewelry making.

The performance arts were not considered to be among them. It was its own classification.

Two other key additions which Contemporary Arts brought to the Visual Arts were Conceptual Art and Photography.

While many other arts came with the Contemporary movement these two gave landmark influence to the modern world we would know.

The beginnings of Conceptual Art can be traced back to Marcel Duchamp at the turn into the 20th Century. With this movement came a wealth of influence across many other concepts.

Picasso is another name of influence in this period and his friends of the Surrealist Movement.

Here you begin to see more artistic expression, abstract ideas, and the birth of the Monochromatic Arts in the 1950’s. The why behind a work became important just as the what the work was.

Photography also revolutionized the world as we know it. What began as a novelty and almost magic of science turned into a phenomenon.

Today we cannot imagine living without this simple device. Every person who has a cell phone in our time has a camera by default.

The art of photography though allowed for new ideas of impressing the public with how the artist captured the images.

Future digital innovation allowed further influence through graphical editing and merging of images to create a new art that mesmerize us today.

Crossing Of Visual Arts Among The Spectrum

Conceptual Art focuses on ideas and meaning rather than a strict boundary within a work of art. It is due to the advancement of technology that we see a crossing of arts blending into new forms.

Photography and video are two key examples of this occurring.

Within the performance arts this is also true. Special effects and even simple filters are now broadly accessible to the public. This has allowed more people to create new ideas that before were never possible.

Integrating painting, drawings, or ink art through concept art and into animation, can bring what was once still and motionless to life.

We have truly entered a new age of what is possible within art.

Historically the crossing of different arts into the Visual Art world was a more simple process. Texture is an example of what came to influence appeal.

The visual aesthetics while important was not isolated in what people desired.

Art began to appeal to the greater senses of the human experience in a more immersive way. As ideas such as decorating and design came into the picture so with it came the industry of home decor.

In the early 1900’s it would be artists who began this trend not interior designers.

Within the early days one would hire an artist from their field of expertise to bring into the home what one desired. By the mid 20th century an entire industry had evolved with mass production capability to fulfill those same needs.

Is The Term Visual Arts Now Meaningless?

There has been a continual struggle between what words mean and the classification of what meets the definition of its requirements.

From an education standpoint it could be easy to say that the words Visual Arts has become less meaningful as art continues to expand.

In the classical sense this may have merit and hold some truth. Yet with this perception one must ignore what has come as a result of what technology has brought with it.

One look at the Kuleshov Effect can display the power of blending old ways within new art forms. To better answer this question one must go back to the core meaning and purpose of art.

Art is in of itself meant to serve a few key functions. Among those functions can be found beauty, meaning and reflection, as well as capturing the heart and soul of a culture in time.

With these functions one must also recognize another critical aspect of art.

Of the many purposes which it serves, art should improve our life and make it better as a result of having it. In this way as the Visual Arts have changed through time this is exactly what has happened.

Our lives are better for what it has brought not just in a conceptual way but in real function to daily life.

In this light and knowing the benefits which we have gained I would say that the term or classification of Visual Arts is not meaningless. Rather it is ever growing by leaps and bounds.

As we move forward into the future there is more potential and opportunity for these arts as well as the artist. Today there are more employed artists than ever before in history.

While many may be classified within the design industry they are there often due to an arts background.

Should Some Arts Be Removed From Visual Arts?

This may come from a personal bias yet I believe it has real world merit. I do believe that many within the “arts and crafts” world would no longer qualify as being part of the Visual Arts world. Why?

Here we bridge the ever important gap of technology once again. Art by its very creation should have human input with the applied hand in some way.

Here is where I begin to separate those from traditional crafts and those who mass produce them.

To see this impact all one must do is search online for the home decoration industry. Among the many results one will find are those who call what they do art, yet it is created by a factory machine.

This in no way would I ever call art.

Yet the classification remains due to its historical influence. There was a time when these items were all handmade by those who held the talent and skill within that field.

Today these people still exist yet are far fewer in number.

Moving forward into the future, will we also allow art to be accepted as Visual Art which is purely generated by a computer or AI? I could better understand this argument than a factory machine merely replicating one design thousands of times over.

At some point what art is will once again be redefined. As automated technology begins to replace what was human input into art, what we deem as genuine art may cause conflict in definition.

I know for certain this conflict exists as a wood artist presenting my work to the world.

While I separate the human artist from the machine makers there are those who disagree. For the moment we will remain in disagreement. Yet within my mind the Visual Arts will forever remain with the artists who have the talent, skill, and passion to create by their own hands.

If an artists desires to use the aid of machinery, computers, or their preferred tools, it is still their ideas and hands which create the art we see.