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.
Featured content, July 12, 2020
What’s Inside the Great Pyramid?
Are there mummies inside the Great Pyramid? Hieroglyphs? Hidden treasure? Ghosts? Find out!
Demystified / Visual Arts
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
List of Lists: 6 Extremely Random Historical Catalogs
Forget your shopping list and to-do list, here are some really useful lists.
List / Visual Arts
Walt Disney’s First Cartoon Critter Was Not Mickey Mouse
Before Mickey Mouse, there was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
#WTFact / Visual Arts
Julien Levy, American art dealer, who was known for launching the careers of some of the most significant artists of the...
Okwui Enwezor, Nigerian-born poet, art critic, art historian, and curator who helped bring global attention to African art....
Naïve art, work of artists in sophisticated societies who lack or reject conventional expertise in the representation or...
Encyclopedia / Visual Arts
Flemish art, art of the 15th, 16th, and early 17th centuries in Flanders and in the surrounding regions including Brabant,...
Encyclopedia / Visual Arts
Visual Arts Quizzes
Ultimate Art Quiz
From symbolism to sculpture, this quiz will put you in touch with your artistic side.
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...
Art & Architecture: Fact or Fiction?
What purpose do gargoyles serve? What is gesso used for? Sort fact from fiction in art and architecture.
Paris at Random
What ballet caused an opening night riot in Paris? Which Parisian singer popularized the chanson? Test your knowledge about...
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...
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...
From the graceful movements of ballet to the flapping frenzy of the Charleston, tap your feet—and scratch your head—in this...
This or That? Painter vs. Architect
Think you know your artists? Try to remember if these famous names were painters or architects.
Ballet: Fact or Fiction?
What is a pirouette? Where does ballet terminology come from? Test your knowledge with this quiz.
Visual Arts Videos
Visual Arts Subcategories
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.
Awards such as the Praemium Imperiale and the Pritzker Prize honor artists for a job well done.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.