What Is Art?

For the most part, the term “arts” refers loosely to anything that employs the senses and/or imagination. It is one of the most expansive of all fields in academia and is often used to describe contemporary issues affecting the artistic community. The word “arts” has a wider meaning than simply painting, drawing, music, dance, printmaking, photography, literature, etc. Although many things fall under the larger umbrella of “arts,” it seems that many of these do not directly engage the senses, but instead indirectly do so. Thus, art has been lumped into a category of “vice.” In this way, it is useful to classify all types of art: Relatively new practices, such as web design and interactive arts, are usually considered to be arts because of their indirect and participatory methods of entertainment.


Some types of arts are more direct and involved senses. Visual art (for example, painting, photography, film, and sculpture) involves using the senses to create an aesthetic experience. Film and video games can be considered to fall into this category. Music and performing arts typically use the ears, voice, and physical actions to create a form of art.

Art historians and critics refer to works of art by different artists as referring to specific genres, while defining genres themselves can be more difficult. The most common definition is that of commercial art, which includes any art that is sold commercially. However, there are some genres that have become extinct, such as natural and artistic figurines. Additionally, there are several genres that are not related to any type of commercial production, such as children’s books, comic books, and photographic images or paintings. Other types of fine art include ceramics, woodwork, metalworks, photography, fine furniture, and contemporary art.