Not having a formal training in the field of arts, I set about to know more about it lately – focusing on visual arts. And as for the approach, I did it in a way that I usually follow for other domains. I wanted to find out all the different categories of visual art.
Going through the various resources on the Internet and libraries, we would be overwhelmed by the sheer amount and classes of art that exists. By the end of this post, I cannot promise that I would have exhaustively touched on all the different forms of visual art.
This would just be the tip of the subject of classification of visual art. Human kind over its seemingly short history when compared to the evolution has managed to amass various forms of visual art. The creative capabilities of human kind, keeps expanding the envelope.
Visual art can be classified in terms of time line as well as culture. Note that when such an attempt is made, the different classes may overlap.
In terms of time-line, visual art may be classified as follows:
In terms of culture, one may classify visual art as follows:
As stated earlier, the above are not exhaustive, but let us go through each of them one by one.
The artworks are classified based on when in the timeline they were created. It can be noted that the granulation is quite broad in the early part of human history and becomes finer as we approach the present times.
Pre-historic art is the artwork produced by the nameless early humans from the edge of the epoch when homo sapiens came to being. This class of arts exists as cave paintings, pottery and other utensils, and the early tools that were fabricated. These artworks lack the sophistication found in artwork of other classes, but they have strong significance as they give picture of the early humans as creative beings.
This class of art refers to the different visual artworks that are remains of ancient civilizations from Egypt, Mesapotamia, Greece and Rome. One can note an increase in the level of sophistication in these artworks, as they were the product of humans quite close to us in the time-line that the pre-historic humans. Also, these artworks are heavily influenced by their cultural aspects like religion, and form a signature that identifies them to a particular civilization.
Medieval art, though stated among the classification based on the time-line, also refers to the artwork produced in basically in Europe, and also in North Africa and Middle East, during the early period of one and a half millenia after Christ. These artworks were heavily influenced by relgion and most of them were mediums of religious practice. But that said, each country had its own medieval art and had an identity of its own.
Renaissance can be said to based around Italy, and it refers to the artwork produced during the period of 1300 to 1600. It was a time when the Church had its Papal influence and along with it, there was the advancement in science. Realism and observance of perspective is the signature of these artworks.
This class of artworks is around the year 1700 and 1900. The style is similar to Renaissance Art but the key difference is the choice of subjects. Artworks were not made through sponsors from establishments like the Church and thus, the subjects revolved around social aspects – like wars and battles, general scenes, unnamed induviduals.
This class of artworks started in the late 19th century. The movement has an international scope and is not bound by borders of countries. In Modern Art, the visualization of subject is not tied to realism. Abstract ideas and moods are conveyed in this form of art.
This class of art is overlapped with the Modern Art. The time period is 1960 to current time. Almost anything visual can be classed as Contemporary Art if it can be classed as art and a commentary on it can be made in descriptive terms. This class of art has nothing definitive yet as we are standing on the time-line where artworks are being created and are classifed as Contemporary Art.
Classifying artworks based on culture, we can go to extensive depths. Hence, I will just skim through them for now, and may expand on few of them in future.
This class of artworks originated from the continent of Europe. Most of the classifications done based on time period of recent years revolves around Western Art. It seems like art historians and enthusiasts have been able to get most of the Western Art into categories like Medieval Art, Renaissance Art and Romanticism Art because of the records and works being archived successfully in material form.
This class of art originated in the Middle East, and revolves around Islam religion. The visual art almost extends to the texts written because the script used (for example Arabic) is stylistic. Islamic Artwork has influence from the religion even though the religion forbids the visual representation of Allah and the prophets.
This is a encompassing category for the diverse artworks that may be further classifed as Buddist, Chinese, Japanese, Indian Art and several other classes that were influenced by specific cultures. These artworks can not be easily classifed based on time periods as they maintain styles that form their signatures.
Each of these categories of visual artwork would require a commentary for themselves, and I will leave it here for the time being.
Are there other classes of visual art? I would put my bet that there are and this post would just be the tip of an iceberg. What do you think?