The arts can be defined to be the theory and physical manifestations of creativity prevailing in society. There are many forms of art which will be explained in some detail here but before that it will be relevant to look at the definitions in some detail. The most analytical definition which covers almost every aspect of the arts is probably what has been put out by the United States Congress in the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act. It defines “arts” as follows
“The term ‘the arts’ includes, but is not limited to, music (instrumental and vocal), dance, drama, folk art, creative writing, architecture and allied fields, painting, sculpture, photography, graphic and craft arts, industrial design, costume and fashion design, motion pictures, television, radio, film, video, tape and sound recording, the arts related to the presentation, performance, execution, and exhibition of such major art forms, all those traditional arts practiced by the diverse peoples of this country and the study and application of the arts to the human environment.”
Summing up this classification, it can then be said that the arts covers a very wide canvas, right from the prehistoric days of cave paintings to modern day paintings and films that seek to link and convey humankind’s very close relationship with the environment they live in.
Here are the broad sections of what is called “the arts”.
- Drawing – A person who excels in drawing is known as a drafter, draftswoman or draftsman. Common tools used in drawing are pen and ink, inked brushes, graphite pencils, crayons, pastels, charcoal, markers and coloured pencils. The main use of drawing is in comics, illustrations and animation.
- Painting – Modern painters today have extended the scope of this art much beyond that of canvas and colour to include straw, cement, sand, wood and even strands of hair to bring out a specific texture in their works. This has become very apparent from the early 20th century onwards.
- Ceramics – It is a form of art made from ceramic materials such as clay and the finished product is in the form of tiles, figurines, sculpture, tableware and pottery. These include what is technically called fine art as well as other decorative and applied art objects.
- Photography – Photography as an art form is structured as per the creative vision and outlook of the photographer. This is distinct from photojournalism or commercial photography as in advertisements.
- Sculpture – Traditional sculptures have mainly been on stone, ceramics, metal and wood but with modern influences the process has undergone a transformation. A wide range of materials are used and carving is done through welding, modelling, casting and moulding.
- Music – It is an art form which is based on recurring occurrences of sound and silence where the sound component has pitch, rhythm, metre, tempo, timbre and texture. It is generally founded on definite and organised compositions with improvised music pieces at the other end of the spectrum. There are a lot of genres and sun-genres within the wide scope of music, the classification of which is often controversial and open to individual interpretations.
- Theatre – It is the art of acting out stories in front of an audience using a mix of music, dance, speech and gesture. This narrative story telling style can take many forms such as ballet, opera, classical Indian music and kabuki.
- Dance – It is a form of non-verbal communication and expression that is dependent on cultural, aesthetic, social and cultural settings and constraints. Dance forms range from ballet to folk, from ice skating to synchronised swimming. Choreography is the art of creating dance performances and the person doing so is known as the choreographer.
These are the main forms of “the arts” with a few others such as applied arts and multidisciplinary artistic works following in its wake.