Introduction

Hans Rottenhammer, Allegory of the Arts (second half of the 16th century). Gemäldegalerie, Berlin.

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 Second Stage of Cruelty
The Four Stages of Cruelty is a series of four printed engravings published by William Hogarth in 1751. The prints depict the progression of the fictional Tom Nero, from a cruel child to his ultimate fate: the ignominy of dissection after his execution as a murderer. Beginning with the torture of a dog as a child in the First stage of cruelty, he progresses to beating his horse as a man in the Second stage of cruelty, and then to robbery, seduction, and murder in Cruelty in perfection. Finally, he receives what Hogarth warns is the inevitable fate of those who start down the path Nero has followed: his body is taken from the gallows and mutilated by surgeons in the anatomical theatre in The reward of cruelty. The prints were intended as a form of moral instruction: Hogarth was dismayed by the routine acts of cruelty he witnessed on the streets of London. Issued on cheap paper, the prints were destined for the lower classes. The series shows a roughness of execution and a brutality that is untempered by the humorous touches common in Hogarth's other works, but which he felt was necessary to impress his message on the intended audience. Nevertheless, the pictures still carry the wealth of detail and subtle references that Hogarth had made his trademark.

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Giovanna degli AlbizziCredit: Artist: Domenico Ghirlandaio

A portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni, the daughter in law of Giovanni Tornabuoni. She was a member of the Albizzi family, who were rivals of the Medici and Alberti families, and were at the centre of Florentine oligarchy starting from 1382 in the reaction that followed the Ciompi revolt. However, after Cosimo de' Medici returned from exile in 1434 (arranged by Rinaldo degli Albizzi) and regained power, he in turn exiled all but one of the Albizzis from Florence. This painting was done around 1490, long after the Albizzis' fall from grace.

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Portrait of Henry, Prince of Wales, and John Harington, by Robert Peake the Elder
Robert Peake the elder (c. 1551–1619) was an English painter active in the later part of Elizabeth I's reign and for most of the reign of James I. In 1604, he was appointed picture maker to the heir to the throne, Prince Henry, and in 1607, serjeant-painter to King James I, a post he shared with John De Critz. Peake is often called "the elder", to distinguish him from his son, the painter and print seller William Peake (c. 1580–1639) and from his grandson, Sir Robert Peake (c. 1605–1667), who followed his father into the family print-selling business. Peake was the only English-born painter of a group of four artists whose workshops were closely connected. The others were De Critz, Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, and the miniature-painter Isaac Oliver. Between 1590 and about 1625, they specialised in brilliantly coloured, full-length "costume pieces" (example pictured) that are unique to England at this time. It is not always possible to attribute authorship among Peake, De Critz, Gheeraerts and their assistants with certainty.

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A 12th-century song by Comtessa Beatritz de Dia, "A Chantar" is the only existing song by a trobairitz which survives with its music.

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