Visual Arts

These are the arts that meet the eye and evoke an emotion through an expression of skill and imagination. They include the most ancient forms, such as painting and drawing, and the arts that were born thanks to the development of technology, like sculpture, printmaking, photography, and installation art, the latter a combination of multiple creative expressions. Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, different eras in art history have had their own principles to define beauty, from the richly ornamented taste of the Baroque to the simple, utilitarian style of the Prairie School.
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Featured content, June 01, 2020

The Most Stolen Work of Art
Jan van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece has been stolen by Napoleon and Hitler, among others.
#WTFact / Visual Arts
Click on image for enlargements of panel sections. The Ghent Altarpiece (open view) by Jan and Hubert van Eyck, 1432, polyptych with 12 panels, oil on panel; in the Cathedral of Saint-Bavon, Ghent, Belg.
Street Photography: How a Single Camera Brought About a Genre
The invention of the Leica camera allowed photographers to move through the streets and capture moments that come and go…
Companion / Visual Arts
vintage Leica photo camera at KPI Museum, July 24, 2015, in Kiev, Ukraine
The Dramatic Life of Vincent van Gogh
In honor of his birthday, Britannica explores the life of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, who sold only one painting during…
Spotlight / Visual Arts
"Self-Portrait with Straw Hat (verso: The Potato Peeler)," oil on canvas by Vincent van Gogh, 1887. In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 40.6 x 31.8 cm.
What’s Inside the Great Pyramid?
Are there mummies inside the Great Pyramid? Hieroglyphs? Hidden treasure? Ghosts? Find out!
Demystified / Visual Arts
pyramid sunset, egypt
9 Muses Who Were Artists
Inspirational and inspired.
List / Visual Arts
Berthe Morisot by Edouard Manet(1872). Lithograph in black on chine colle on wove paper
History of photography
History of photography, method of recording the image of an object through the action of light, or related radiation, on…
Encyclopedia / Visual Arts
stereoscope
South Asian arts
South Asian arts, the literary, performing, and visual arts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Despite a history…
Encyclopedia / Visual Arts
Mridanga; in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Academy of art
Academy of art, in the visual arts, institution established primarily for the instruction of artists but often endowed with…
Encyclopedia / Visual Arts
The Royal Academy of Arts, mezzotint by Richard Earlom (1742/43–1822), after Johann Joseph Zoffany.

Visual Arts Quizzes

Claude Monet. Claude Monet, Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect, 1903. Oil on canvas, 25 7/8 x 39 3/4 in. (65.7 x 101 cm), Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1163. River Thames
Artists & Painters: Fact or Fiction?
Do you think you know Fabergé, Monet, and Jackson Pollock? Discover how much you really know about their lives, inspirations,…
Color pastels, colored chalk, colorful chalk. Hompepage blog 2009, arts and entertainment, history and society
Ultimate Art Quiz
From symbolism to sculpture, this quiz will put you in touch with your artistic side.
Close-up of a palette held by a man. Mixing paint, painting, color mixing.
Artists, Painters, & Architects
Who picked up a paintbrush, chisel, or piece of clay to create the world’s most famous works of art? Draw on your knowledge…
USA, California, San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge
Art & Architecture: Fact or Fiction?
What purpose do gargoyles serve? What is gesso used for? Sort fact from fiction in art and architecture.
Alberto Santos-Dumont. Postcard of Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont's (1873-1932)airship or dirigible and Eiffel Tower. The Santos Dumont Air-Ship rounding the Eiffel Tower; on Octoboer 19th 1901. airplane
Paris at Random
What ballet caused an opening night riot in Paris? Which Parisian singer popularized the chanson? Test your knowledge about…
Paul Bunyan:  The Tale of a Lumberjack
Mythology, Legend, and Folklore
According to American folklore, who dug out the Grand Canyon? From Egyptian gods to Norse heroes, dig out the facts in this…
mythology. Greek. Athena.
Greek Mythology and Legend: Fact or Fiction?
In the legends concerning the Trojan War, were the Greek gods neutral? Sort through the facts of winged and wooden horses…
Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in the motion picture "Swing Time" (1936); directed by George Stevens. (movie, film, musical)
Dance
From the graceful movements of ballet to the flapping frenzy of the Charleston, tap your feet—and scratch your head—in this…
"The Adoration of the Shepherds" by Andrea Mantegna in the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1450.
This or That? Painter vs. Architect
Think you know your artists? Try to remember if these famous names were painters or architects.
Costume sketch for two Beotian ('Two Bacchantes') women, from the Ballets Russes production of Tcherepnin's "Narcissus", 1911 by Leon Bakst. Mythological poem with music by N. Cherepnin, 1911. Watercolour, gouache, pencil, gold, silver on paper.
Ballet: Fact or Fiction?
What is a pirouette? Where does ballet terminology come from? Test your knowledge with this quiz.
Image Gallery
Visual Arts
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Visual Arts Subcategories

Anubis weighing the soul of the scribe Ani, from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, c. 1275 bce. Architecture
Architecture is a sphere of art and design in which functionality and aesthetics can combine to produce visually stunning structures that manage to both catch the eye and serve a functional purpose. The expansive variety of architectural styles that have been employed throughout the ages underscores the fact that not every building need look the same, a principle that is readily apparent when comparing Gothic cathedrals with igloos or pagodas with cliff dwellings. Noted architects such as Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, I.M. Pei, Zaha Hadid, and Jeanne Gang are acclaimed not only for the striking aesthetics of their designs but also for the way in which their work reflected cultural themes and values. Although architecture is commonly associated first and foremost with the design and construction of buildings, landscape architects may work with gardens, parks, and other planned outdoor areas, aiding in the development and decorative planning of such spaces.
Articles
  • Donato Bramante
    Italian architect
  • Hospital
  • Roller coaster
    ride
  • subcategory placeholder Arts Awards
    Awards such as the Praemium Imperiale and the Pritzker Prize honor artists for a job well done.
    Articles
  • Bollingen Prize
    American literature prize
  • Büchner Prize
    German award
  • National Book Awards
    American literary award
  • Scene from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Decorative Art
    People appreciate the usefulness of things like glassware and furniture, but they appreciate such objects even more when they’re aesthetically pleasing, too. That’s where decorative art comes in. Explore the world of basketry, metalwork, pottery, interior design, tapestry, and more.
    Articles
  • Pollaiuolo brothers
    Italian artists
  • Charles Eames and Ray Eames
    American designers
  • Korean art
  • girdle Fashion Design
    Looking to make a statement without even saying a word? Fashion designers know that clothing and accessories can speak volumes about the wearer, affecting both how the wearer is perceived by others and how the wearer perceives of him- or herself. The fashion industry has become a multibillion-dollar global enterprise devoted to the business of making and selling clothes; it thrives by being diverse and flexible enough to gratify any consumer's desire to embrace or even to reject fashionability, however that term might be defined.
    Articles
  • Miuccia Prada
    Italian fashion designer
  • Jean Paul Gaultier
    French fashion designer
  • Cindy Crawford
    American fashion model
  • Jane Avril, lithograph poster by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1893; in the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, Albi, France. Graphic Art
    Calligraphy, graffiti, engraving, caricature: graphic art's domain stretches as far as the eye can see. Take a look at some of the other types of graphic art, and learn more about the artists working within this category of fine arts.
    Articles
    subcategory placeholder Installation & Performance Art
    Learn about the artists who create installation art, which can incorporate a variety of different materials and artistic forms, such as sculptures, videos, and music, all with the purpose of transforming a given space. Performance artists may also make use of videos and music—as well as such varied elements as acting, poetry, dance, and painting—to create a live presentation for an audience; here, the "audience" could simply consist of onlookers on the street or patrons browsing the halls of a museum, among countless other possibilities.
    Articles
  • Ai Weiwei
    Chinese activist and artist
  • Tracey Emin
    British artist
  • Huang Yong Ping
    Chinese-born French artist
  • “Miracle of St. George over the Dragon,” icon by an anonymous artist of the Novgorod school, egg tempera on panel, beginning of the 15th century; in the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, I.A. Ostroukhov Collection Painting
    Need help distinguishing your Picassos from your Monets? Learn about history’s celebrated painters and the different styles, techniques, mediums, and forms that have been used to create such unique visual images as Salvador Dalí’s melting clock and the ever-shifting eyes of Leonardo da Vinci’s enigmatic Mona Lisa.
    Articles
  • Painting
  • Futurism
    the arts
  • Bohemian school
    visual arts
  • Becher, Bernd; Becher, Hilla Photography
    Photography’s history began long before we were snapping pictures on camera phones. Learn about the masters of the craft and explore the development of photographic technology as it progressed through daguerreotypes and tintypes on the way to modern day’s increasingly sophisticated digital cameras.
    Articles
  • John Heartfield
    German artist
  • Alfred Stieglitz
    American photographer
  • Hannah Höch
    German artist
  • Apollo and Daphne, marble sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1622–24; in the Borghese Gallery, Rome. Sculpture
    Looking to find a use for that extra clay, stone, plaster, or metal that you have lying around? Consider sculpture, in which artists employ these materials and others to create three-dimensional art. Perhaps you’ll join the ranks of noted sculptors such as Michelangelo, Auguste Rodin, and Donatello.
    Articles
  • Western sculpture
    art
  • Sculpture
  • Leonardo da Vinci
    Italian artist, engineer, and scientist
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