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What is Art?


Please see:

What is Art?
How is art defined and classified? What's the difference between fine, decorative and applied arts? What's the difference between arts and crafts? What's the difference between representational and ? What are aesthetics? What are ready-mades? What is junk art? For answers to these and other questions see: . For Christian diptychs, triptychs and polyptych altarpieces, Eastern Orthodox icons, and illuminated gospel manuscripts, see: . For all artworks derived from the Old or New Testament of the Bible, see: . For a guide to sacred artworks in general, see: . For more information about print techniques such as woodcuts, relief or intaglio processes, aquatint, mezzotint, etching, dry-point, engraving or lithography, stencils, serigraphy and silkscreen, see Printmaking.

Other forms of art covered include various types of painting and , as well as animation, architecture, assemblage, calligraphy, caricature, ceramics, collage, conceptualism, digital computer art, graffiti, graphic art, illustration, installations, performance, metalwork, mosaics, photography, pottery, sculpture, sketching, stained glass, tapestry, textile design, video, numerous types of artistic design, and more.

• For more information, see .
• For answers to popular questions, see: .

Greatest Old Masters


To find out, see:

World's Greatest Painters (c.1300-1800)
Read biographies of ALL the great European Old Masters, such as: Gothic illuminators like Jean Pucelle and the Limbourg Brothers; leading icon panel painters like Theophanes the Greek and Andrei Rublev; Sienese painters such as Duccio di Buoninsegna; Flemish masters like Jan Van Eyck, Roger Van der Weyden, Hans Memling; Dutch painters like Hieronymus Bosch, as well as early German artists like Albrecht Altdorfer, Durer and Holbein. We analyze the by Giotto, Masaccio, Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, Correggio, Raphael and Tintoretto. We profile Mannerists like Paolo Veronese, miniaturists like Nicholas Hilliard, the Bolognese School of Annibale Carracci, and the great masters of Baroque painting such as Rubens, Caravaggio, Velazquez, as well as Ribera's Neapolitan School, and illusionist fresco painters like Pietro da Cortona and Andrea Pozzo. We profile Dutch Realists like Rembrandt and Jan Vermeer; as well as 18th century view-painters like Canaletto, Rococo painters like Boucher and Fragonard; Neoclassicists such as Jacques-Louis David, and Romantics like Goya.

• For a chronological list of painters by movement, see: .
• For a combined list of painters and sculptors, see: .


For biographies of
the greatest
and Symbolists,
please see:


To find out who
holds the world's
top award for
contemporary art,
please see:

Best Modern Painters (c.1700-present)
We profile ALL the great 18th century masters of , like William Hogarth and Joshua Reynolds, as well as ALL the main members of the school of including JMW Turner, Constable and Richard Parkes Bonington. We also cover the 18th century American School, exemplified by portraitists Benjamin West, John Singleton Copley, and Gilbert Stuart, and Japanese Ukiyo-e artists, like Hokusai and Hiroshige.

We provide biographies of ALL major 19th century painters including: masters from the French Barbizon Landscape School, like Corot, Theodore Rousseau, Millet and Daubigny, as well as American painters of the Hudson River School (Thomas Cole, Frederic Church), and exponents of Luminism. Realists like Daumier and Courbet, and Symbolists like Gustave Moreau, are also covered. We profile ALL the great and ALL Post-Impressionist painters like Georges Seurat, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne and Munch. We profile Jules Cheret, inventor of 3-stone chromolithography, as well as ALL the great Russian artists up to 1917, including the goldsmith Peter Carl Faberge, creator of the exquisite Faberge Easter Eggs.

• For narrative, historical or mythological works, see: .
• For individual, group or self portraits, see: .
• For everyday scenes, see: .
• For views and vistas, see: .

We profile ALL major , including Fauvists like Matisse and Andre Derain; Expressionists like Modersohn-Becker, Kandinsky, Emil Nolde, August Macke and Klee; Chagall and Modigliani of the Paris School; Cubists like Picasso and Braque; Dadaists like Marcel Duchamp; Surrealists like Dali and Magritte, and abstract painters like Mondrian, Malevich and Moholy-Nagy. We cover ALL important American artists such as Hopper, Rothko, De Kooning, Pollock, Warhol, Jasper Johns, and the Neo-Pop sculptor Jeff Koons, as well as Mexican Muralists like Diego Rivera, and South Americans like Fernando Botero, and 20th century European masters like Lucian Freud, Antoni Tapies, Yves Klein and Damien Hirst.

History of Art


History of Art
Our coverage of features the oldest art from across the globe. Dating to the lower Paleolithic era of the Stone Age between 290,000 and 700,000 BCE, it includes the strange phenomenon of cupules, the Venuses of Berekhat Ram and Tan-Tan, and the Blombos Cave petroglyphs. In addition, we feature (Venus of Hohle Fels, Venus of Willendorf), an extensive series of articles on - including cave paintings at Chauvet, Lascaux and Altamira, ivory carvings like the Lion Man of Hohlenstein Stadel, as well as , Australian Aboriginal X-ray and Bradshaw paintings. See: .


We explore a range of from a variety of civilizations. Beginning with Mesopotamian art (c.4500 BCE onwards), it includes the sculpture and frescos of , notably those of and . For the history of and culture, see (c.18,000 BCE - present). From 450 CE, we cover the mosaics and religious icons of the Byzantine era, followed by the courtly revivals of the Carolingian and Ottonian dynasties. We also take a close look at (c.1200 BCE - 1535 CE). From 1,000 CE, we trace the development of Medieval architecture and sculpture through the Romanesque, and Gothic periods, while painting is explored through the Sienese School and International Gothic styles. We explain the difference between trecento, quattrocento and cinquecento paintings. At the same time, Italian receives in-depth coverage, as does 17th century , and 18th century . In addition, we also look at the history of crafts, like jewellery and fine furniture.

Our guide to lists all the trends and schools of the modern period. Important styles explored include: Impressionism (1874-84), (1880-1900), Fauvism (1905-7), (1905-14), (1908-14), (1923-present) and (1960s). We explain the meaning of styles like 'realism' and 'naturalism' in painting. In addition, we profile important 20th-century groups like Die Brucke and Der Blaue Reiter, and examine the contribution of styles like Japonism and Biomorphic Abstraction, as well as modern movements like Art Informel, Colour-Field Painting, Op Art and Fluxus, and the latest contemporary art forms like Angel and Fantasy art.

• For more details, see: . or .


Art News Headlines


In this section
we offer news and
facts or answers to
popular questions
about painting,
sculpture, or

News, Articles on Artists and Movements

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" (1907), the first Cubist painting, is not a fully resolved picture in the traditional sense. In it, Picasso (1881-1973) tried out a number of ideas. There is no illusion of deep space. The figures remain on the surface of the canvas. The seated figure on the right shows both a side view and a back view at the same time. By the traditional rules of linear perspective this cannot be allowed. Yet figures do exist in the round, with sides and backs, and one of the aims of Cubist painting was to show all those parts simultaneously, rather than show only that view which can be seen from a single fixed position. The faces on the right are recognisable as such although no single feature is truly descriptive of that in the human face. They derive from African masks which Picasso had recently seen and become fascinated with. The almond-eyed faces on the left are influenced by Iberian sculpture. The two that are full face have their noses drawn in profile, so they combine in a single image information taken from different viewpoints. Picasso and his co-inventor Georges Braque (1882-1963) did not work according to any preconceived theory. They worked furiously and instinctively in the closest co-operation, attempting to produce recognisable images free from the rules of imitation, and their work of this period should be judged as experiments. Painstakingly they analysed what they had done and worked from one picture to another. Much of their initial inspiration came from the late works of Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) who had seemingly started along the same path to simplified forms, and whose works they had seen in a large retrospective exhibition in Paris in 1907. Braque's "Houses at Estaque", for example, shows him examining and opening the volumes of the buildings. They do not recede into a semblance of deep space, but climb flatly towards the top edge of the painting as in a low relief. These sort of ideas were refined in innumerable canvases, whose subject matter was generally the simple still-life objects or musical instruments with which they surrounded themselves. By 1911, Picasso and Braque were producing very similar works such as Braque's "The Portuguese" whose delicate but distinct brush marks and flat painted letters continually emphasise that a painting is essentially paint on a flat surface. Their revolutionary Cubist ideas were taken up by many other painters (and sculptors), notably the Italian Futurists as well as members of the Ecole de Paris. For more about 20th century abstract painting, including articles on Synthetic Cubism, please use our easy .

Sculpture History


For a mini-guide
please see:

We cover the origins, history and development of sculpture in bronze, stone, marble, bronze, clay, and wood. Read our introduction covering the Archaic (600-500), Classical (500-323) and Hellenistic (c.323-27 BCE) eras; read about the great Roman narrative reliefs like Trajan's Column. We also profile the finest Greek sculptors, like Phidias, Polykleitos, Myron, Lysippos and Praxiteles, as well as famous antique sculptures like the Altar of Zeus at Pergamon, the Venus de Milo, Lacoon and His Sons, and the Ara Pacis Augustae, in Rome. For a chronological outline of the plastic arts, see: .

In addition, we cover column statues and other architectural stonework by the great stone-masons and bronze-workers associated with , as well as Medieval, Romanesque and Gothic sculpture. We look at equestrian statues, bas-relief and haut-relief sculptures by artists like Lorenzo Ghiberti, Donatello, and Andrea del Verrocchio, along with marbles and bronzes by carvers like Michelangelo, Bernini, Antonio Canova and Rodin. We also profile great 20th century masters such as Brancusi, Ossip Zadkine, Alexander Calder and Louise Bourgeois; the Cubists Archipenko and Lipchitz; exponents of biomorphic abstraction like Jean Arp and Henry Moore; expressionists like Jacob Epstein; abstract sculptors like Naum Gabo and David Smith; minimalists like Donald Judd; junk artists like Arman and Cesar Baldaccini; kinetic artists like Jean Tinguely; the surrealist Giacometti; the Pop artist Claes Oldenburg; and the contemporary sculptors Joseph Beuys, Antony Gormley, Richard Serra and Anish Kapoor.

• For an article on the theory, materials and types of 3-D objects, see: .
• For a list of the finest works, see: (33,000 BCE - present).
• For biographies of the best 3-D artists, see: . (500 BCE - present).

Architecture and Design

Architecture and Design
We cover the from the earliest human civilizations. This includes a review of (3,000 BCE - 200 CE); as well as exemplified by the Parthenon (447-422), and Roman architecture, characterized by its arches, vaulting and use of concrete; the soaring arches and stained glass art of , illustrated by Chartres Cathedral; Baroque architecture (17th century) exemplified by Saint Peter's Basilica (1506-1626) and the Palace of Versailles (built c.1624-98); (18th century) as in the US Capitol, Washington DC; American architecture (1600-present); and Skyscraper architecture (1850-present), which takes us up to the 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa Dubai building in the United Arab Emirates (2010), and the 1776-foot Freedom Tower, New York, both designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.

Coming soon is our brand new series of biographies on the from around the world, including: Filippo Brunelleschi, Donato Bramante, Bernini, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Latrobe, James Renwick, Eugene Violet-le-Duc, William Le Baron Jenney, Daniel Hudson Burnham, Dankmar Adler, Louis Sullivan, Antoni Gaudi, Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Robert Venturi, I.M.Pei, Sir Norman Foster, Eero Saarinen, Frank Gehry, Fazlur Rahman Khan and others.

Irish Art


We look at aspects
of Celtic art, like
Swords, Jewellery,
Coins, Designs
(Interlace, Knots
Spirals, Crosses)
Celtic metalcraft
like cloisonne and
enamelling, seen
in works like the
Derrynaflan Chalice.
We look at Gospel
illuminations like
the Cathach of St.
Columba and Book
of Durrow.

Irish Art - History and Development
We trace the 10 stages in the . These include the Stone Age engravings at Newgrange; Celtic metalwork like Ardagh Chalice, Broighter Gold Torc, Petrie Crown, and Tara Brooch, as well as Christian illuminated manuscripts like the Book of Kells. In addition, we profile the cultural institutions which fostered the growth of Irish painting, such as the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA).

We also examine the current state of visual arts in Ireland, look at the architectural heritage and cultural legacy of Leinster, Connacht, Munster and Ulster, and profile organizations involved in , like the Arts Council, Culture Ireland, auctioneers including Adams, Whytes, and deVeres, plus schools like Dublin's NCAD and Cork's Crawford College of Art & Design.

Greatest Irish Painters & Sculptors
Our list of over 300 biographical profiles of the greatest Irish artists starts with Garret Morphy and Susanna Drury of the 17th century, and continues up until the 21st century. We look at a range of including John Lavery, Roderic O'Conor, Jack B Yeats, William Orpen, Paul Henry, Francis Bacon, William Scott, Louis le Brocquy and others. We also review artist groups like Aosdana, as well as the most exciting contemporary Irish artists, and examine the top Irish sculptors including the Surrealist F.E.McWilliam, the figurative Rowan Gillespie, the semi-abstract Edward Delaney, and others. For details, see: .

Arts and Crafts from Around the World

We also explore
Jellinge, Mammen,
Ringerike & Urnes
styles); as well as
Jewish artworks
and .

Art From Around the World
We explore a wide range of different artistic mediums, methods and styles, from a variety of cultures across the globe. They include historical as well as contemporary forms of creative expression, from almost all continents.

For example: see , for a guide to rock paintings, classical African sculpture, religious and tribal artworks. See , for metalwork of the Hallstatt and La Tene culture, plus abstract geometric designwork. See , for porcelain, terracotta works including black-glazed pottery and various types of Celadon; for a general guide, see: (c.1700 BCE to 2000 CE). See , for tomb artworks - including, panel paintings, murals, sculpture, and monumental pyramid design. See , for ceramic designs including the Geometric style, Oriental Style, Black-Figure Style and Red-Figure Style. See for a guide to Buddhist Temple art, Zen ink-painting, Yamato-e, and Ukiyo-e painting. See , for prehistoric sculpture, medieval icon-painting, and wonderful 19th century works from the Society for Itinerant Art Exhibitions. In addition, we cover colonial art from Australia and America as well as mainstream (c.1750-present). We also cover the primitive native art of tribal societies in Alaska, the Americas, Africa, India, as well as Oceanic artifacts from Melanesia, Polynesia, Micronesia and Australasia.



Best Art Museums
We explore the collections, acquisitions and history of the world's great museums.

We profile the best art museums in America, including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Detroit Institute of Arts, Frick Collection, the Metropolitan Museum / MoMA / Samuel R Guggenheim / Whitney Museum (all in New York), the Getty Center LA, Philadelphia Museum of Art, National Gallery Washington DC, the Phillips Collection and many more. We also profile the best art museums in Europe, such as the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, and the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Vatican Museums in Rome, the Prado Museum in Madrid, the Tate Collection / National Gallery / Victoria and Albert Museum / Saatchi Gallery (all in London), the Hermitage in St Petersburg, the Pushkin Museum and Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, and many more. For a general guide, see: .


Art Education & Appreciation
As an introductory guide for students and teachers, we provide a number of art appreciation articles, such as: and , among others. We cover questions like "How to assess the subject matter, composition, line and shape, colour, texture and brushwork of a painting?"; "how to judge the background/context of a work?"; "how to appreciate abstract art?" and much more. See also our new series (1800-2000).

Famous Paintings Analyzed
In addition, we provide an extensive series of reviews of famous paintings by the greatest Old Masters. They include masterpieces from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, such as: Battle of San Romano (Paolo Uccello); Arnolfini Portrait (Jan Van Eyck); Lamentation over the Dead Christ (Andrea Mantegna); The Portinari Altarpiece (Hugo Van Der Goes); The Last Supper and Mona Lisa (Leonardo); School of Athens and Sistine Madonna (Raphael); The Isenheim Altarpiece (Matthias Grunewald); the Sistine Chapel frescoes (Michelangelo); Assumption of the Virgin (Titian); Hunters in the Snow (Pieter Bruegel); Supper at Emmaus (Caravaggio); Night Watch and Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (Rembrandt); Girl with a Pearl Earring (Jan Vermeer), Pilgrimage to Cythera (Jean-Antoine Watteau); and many others. For details, see: .

Look out for our new articles on painting techniques like, foreshortening, trompe l'oeil, linear perspective, quadratura, sfumato, and grisaille. Also look out for our forthcoming series on , as well as 20th century design, featuring decorative styles like Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Bauhaus, as well as 21st century fantasy graphics.