What is Fine Art

Welcome to the first of our fine art related articles. In this article, we describe what fine art is all about and give some insight into its popularity through the ages.

What Defines Fine Art?

Fine art can best be described as any art form that has been developed with the prime intention being for aesthetics rather than general utility.

It is often expressed as a somewhat limited degree of visual as well as performing art forms. These can include painting, sculpture, some forms of dance or theatre, classic architecture and types of printmaking.

Of course, schools, institutes of learning and other organisations chiefly use the term to indicate a classical or traditional perspective on the artistic forms. They often imply a close association with either classic or academic art.

The word "fine" as used in the phrase does not necessarily note the quality of the artwork in question. It more describes the purity of the discipline involved.

This succinct definition has a tendency to exclude visual artistic forms that could be rightly considered more like applied art such as craftwork or textiles. The more recently introduced term "visual arts" is more widely considered a more descriptive phrase encompassing today's variety of current arty types.

This is more especially for the multitude of visual media in which high art forms are now more widely recognised as occurring in. The term "fine" found in the phrase this article is dedicated to exploring derives from the concept of its purpose, ultimate cause, or end in Aristotle's philosophy. Therefore the final cause of the finest artwork is the artistic object in itself.

It is therefore not a means to any other end except to please the beholder.

This form of artistry is mainly seen as being distinctly separated from applied arts. This is chiefly the result of such issues brought up in Britain by the running conflict that occurred between those followers of such of the the Arts and Crafts Movement.

This includes William Morris as well as the early modernists and includes Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group. Morris and the early modernists attempted to bring their socialist principles to bear on such of the arts by attempting to include the more common types and styles of crafts of the common masses within the realm of the arts. However the modernists sought to retain artistic endeavour as esoteric and exclusive.

Because of this, confusion can often occur when some people may mistakenly make reference to the the Performing Arts such as music, drama, dance etc as "fine arts." However, disagreement exists. For example, at York University, its Fine Arts is a faculty which includes the "traditional" finest kinds of artistry, design and the "Performing Arts".

To add to this confusion, creative writing is often also referred to as a type of this particular artform. To many people, however, there is only one true instance of "fine art" and that is in the traditional or classic forms of paintings and sculpture.

Janice White

Go Back to Top of Page