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What Are the 7 Different Forms of Art?

The definition of art is diverse, covering many unique forms of expression. However, there are broadly seven forms of art that fall into the common collective definition of “the arts.”

The Definition of Art

Art in any form is an expression or application of human creativity, skill, and imagination. Many of the arts are experienced visually but can also be audible or enjoyed through sensory touch. Arts were traditionally appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power but are now often used for political expression or social commentary.

Most art can be generally categorized into the seven different forms of art we will look at in this article. Recognizing and understanding each of the distinct categories of art not only enables us to enjoy art more, but it’s also vital to help us understand the role of the arts in our lives and history.

What Are the 7 Different Forms of Art?

Specific mediums and forms of artistic expression have changed throughout human history, but for the most part, art falls into one of the following seven classical forms. Each different form of art is experienced differently and affects our emotions and feelings.

  • Painting

  • Sculpture

  • Literature

  • Architecture

  • Cinema

  • Music

  • Theater

We’ll explore what each art form covers, its history, and how it enriches our everyday lives.

1. Painting

Painting is what most minds jump to when we think of art. Painting is the most commonly taught art medium in childhood education. Many of today’s best-known contemporary artists work in this medium, including Damien Hirst, Gerhard Richter, Yves Klein, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh to name just a few.

Painting is a form of expressing your artistic vision using paint as the primary medium. An artist who worked predominantly in this medium is known as a painter and develops their work by applying different colored paints onto a solid surface, usually a canvas, to produce a work of art. Paints are generally oil, acrylic, or watercolor, but you can also paint with pigments, dyes, and inks or incorporate other materials.

The paint application comes in many forms; it may be brushed on, smeared, dabbed, or splashed. Painting is one of the ancient forms of art, with cave paintings dating back to prehistoric times.

Paintings are classified by both the subject matter, style, and genre. Painting subjects usually fall into still life, landscape, seascape, portraiture, or abstract. There are many painting styles, including modernist, expressionist, classical, surreal, cubist, Chinese style, abstract, impressionist, and many more.

2. Sculpture

Sculpture is another ancient visual art form that dates back to prehistoric times. A sculpture creates three-dimensional visual images, traditionally using materials such as clay, stone, ceramics, metals, or wood.

Famous classical sculptors such as Michelangelo and Myron favored carving and casting techniques using marble and bronze. Many of the most well-known sculptures in the world, such as ‘David’, ‘The Statue of Liberty’, and ‘Manneken Pis’, use these materials.

However, modern sculptors have almost any object at their disposal to create a sculpture, including metals, plastics, glass, or found objects. Contemporary sculptors also have a wider variety of techniques at their disposal, including welding, carving, assembling, or modeling. Contemporary sculptors often combine sculpture with other mediums like acrylic and oil paints.

In 1917, Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ changed the public perception of what art and sculpture were when he revealed a sculpture consisting of a readymade porcelain urinal. The definition of what falls into the category of sculpture has continued to expand since.

In many cultures, sculptures were the first and oldest forms of public art. Often too big for private homes, sculptures were commissioned by kings or religious and political leaders and displayed in public places – usually as expressions of wealth, power, religion, or politics. Many classical cities of the ancient world, such as Athens, Jerusalem, Istanbul, and Rome, are home to impressive public sculpture collections.

3. Literature

Literature is an art form that shares stories. It is an art form of language and can be read or spoken. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines literature as “writings whose value lies in the beauty of form or emotional effect.”

Literature crosses all written languages and encompasses a wide range of written works, including poetry, essays, plays, biographies, fiction, non-fiction, satires, and more.

Writers create art with literature through the organization of words that give pleasure, and while reading is enjoyable, those words are often critiques of society. Many of the most well-known authors used language and the written word to critique or offer a point of view on society, including George Orwell, Charlotte Brontë, and Charles Dickens. </