Definitions of Arts

Arts are a set of disciplines or productions of the human being of aesthetic and symbolic purposes from a certain set of criteria, rules and techniques.

Etymologically, the word art comes from the Latin arsartis, and from the Greek τέχνη (téchne), which means “technique.” Hence it was used in ancient times to also refer to trades such as blacksmithing, in addition to disciplines such as poetry, painting or music.

The arts seek to represent the universe of human concerns, whether real or imagined, through the use of symbols or allegories.

The expression of  arts is also used to refer to all those manual processes that require the application of specific rules or techniques, oriented to the enjoyment of the senses. For example, culinary arts.

Art is also a word used to indicate the ability or ability to do something with excellence and expertise. For example, the arts of war or the art of politics.

It is also used to refer to something that must be well done or something that must be learned or done with attention and care: “Exercise well has its art.” “To love is an art.”

Types of arts

The arts can be classified according to various criteria. Let’s meet some of them.

According to discipline

Plastic arts

All artistic expressions that transform or modify materials, whether on two-dimensional or three-dimensional surfaces, are considered plastic arts. The plastic arts exploit elements such as plane, lines, volume, texture, etc. It can be classified into:

Major arts: painting (The young woman with the Vermeer pearl earring); sculpture (David by Michelangelo); architecture (dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, designed by Brunelleschi).

  • Major arts: refers to those manifestations of the plastic arts whose purpose is aesthetic contemplation. They coincide with those recognized as “fine arts” for their autonomous nature regarding utility. Essentially, painting, sculpture and other similar disciplines.

Minor arts: artistic elements are applied to utilitarian objects.

  • Minor arts, applied arts or utilitarian arts: they are those plastic expressions that are subordinated to a principle of utility. Among them we can mention the joinery, the goldsmith’s shop, the stained glass window, the mosaic and the decorative arts in general.

Musical or sound arts

It is an expression that refers to all manifestations of music, regardless of gender, style or format. Recently, a specific discipline of recent appearance, known as the sound art, has also been incorporated .

Literary arts or literature

It refers to all manifestations of literature. Among them we can mention: the narrative (novel and short story), poetry, essay and dramaturgy.

Performing arts

It includes all the manifestations destined to the scenic representation. Due to its characteristics, the performing arts are interdisciplinary. Among them you can mention the theater par excellence, as well as dance, puppet theater, shows, musicals and opera, among others.

Audiovisual arts

It refers to all those artistic expressions that use sound and visual resources, captured and transmitted through technology. It includes the cinema, video art, video clip, etc.

According to the concept of fine arts

The notion of fine arts hierarchizes the value of artistic disciplines according to the principle of “purity”, that is, total freedom with respect to the principle of utility, which underlines their aesthetic and autonomous character.

Therefore, the classification of fine arts encompass only seven disciplines, which are paintingsculptureliteraturemusicdancearchitecture and cinema. The latter was added in the first half of the twentieth century.

Different artistic disciplines adapt or break with the dominant aesthetic criteria of each era. They have a close link with the ideas or concepts of art, philosophy or society, defined by aesthetic particular, like beauty, harmony or balance.

This leaves out all other disciplines considered artistic, being associated with some kind of utility or function other than contemplation.

According to its manifestation in time and space:

  • Space arts: refers to all those that have concrete materiality, that is, that are materially tangible. It includes architecture, painting, sculpture, engraving, lithography, drawing, photography, etc.
  • Temporary arts are those arts that manifest immaterial in time. It essentially involves music and literature in all its manifestations.
  • Space-time arts: are those phenomenal or performing arts that combine spatiality and temporality. Within this category we can find theater, dance, cinema, video-art and video-clip.

Difference between arts and crafts

Since the Renaissance, a separation between art and crafts was demarcated in the world of plastic arts . The difference between the two is that the pieces of art are usually unique pieces attributed to the genius of an author. On the other hand, the craft responds to the repetition of a traditional model, either through manual or industrial processes, since in any case it is a serial process.

History of arts

The history of art is a discipline that studies the art and its evolution over time. Normally, it refers to plastic and visual arts.

In order to facilitate its understanding, art history classifies the different artistic manifestations in periods (prehistoric, ancient, classical, medieval, modern, etc.), in styles (Gothic, Neoclassicism, Baroque, etc.), or in movements or artistic trends (expressionism, cubism, pop, conceptual, etc.).

Likewise, it is responsible for determining and systematizing the distinctive features of an author, work, movement or period, in order to highlight its value in the context of the story.


Works of art are the name given to each of the artistic pieces product of human creativity. The works of art are always the concretion of the idea of ​​an artist, who according to social or personal values, may or may not sign the piece.