The arts are a very wide range of human practices of
cultural participation. They encompass multiple diverse and plural modes of thinking, doing, and being, in an extremely broad range of
media. Both highly dynamic and a characteristically constant feature of human life, they have developed into innovative, stylized, and sometimes intricate forms. This is often achieved through sustained and deliberate study, training, and/or theorizing within a particular tradition, across generations, and even between
civilizations. The arts are a vehicle through which human beings cultivate distinct social, cultural, and individual identities while transmitting values, impressions, judgements, ideas, visions, spiritual meanings, patterns of life, and experiences across time and space.
Prominent examples of the arts include:
visual arts (including
literary arts (including
performing arts (including
They can employ
imagination to produce
performances, convey insights and
experiences, and construct new
environments and spaces.
The arts can refer to common, popular, or everyday practices as well as more sophisticated, systematic, or institutionalized ones. They can be discrete and self-contained or combine and interweave with other art forms, such as the combination of artwork with the written word in
comics. They can also develop or contribute to some particular aspect of a more complex art form, as in
cinematography. By definition, the arts themselves are open to being continually redefined. The practice of
modern art, for example, is a testament to the shifting boundaries, improvisation and experimentation, reflexive nature, and
self-criticism or questioning that art and its conditions of production, reception, and possibility can undergo.
As both a means of developing capacities of attention and sensitivity and as
ends in themselves, the arts can simultaneously be a form of response to the world and a way that our responses and what we deem worthwhile goals or pursuits are transformed. From prehistoric
cave paintings to ancient and contemporary forms of
ritual to modern-day
films, art has served to register, embody, and preserve our ever-shifting relationships to each other and to the world. (