Humanity has never been without art. Since the age of the cavemen, art has been something we have used to express ourselves and record history – whether we knew it or not. Art is not a limited thing as there are many different types of art, which brings us to today’s topic. This tutorial is all about the types of art that we can appreciate each day or throughout our lives. We will discuss what the form of art means for each of the seven art types because each art form could be compared to art genres. If you are here to learn about the different kinds of art, then keep reading because by the end of this article, you will know exactly what “form” means in art.
- 1 Art Explained
- 2 The Seven Forms of Art
- 3 Other Art Forms
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
Trying to explain what art is can be difficult, as it is not very specific. This is why you need to have an open mind to the explanations of others. This is because it is definitive to the person defining it and not limited to that either. You could have a conversation all night discussing the definition of art and by the end of the night, you might not conclude unless you have opened your mind up to accept the views of others as well as your own.
Many types of art can also be described as art genres because they are made up of different aspects.
All you need to create art, in all its different art forms, is your imagination and a little bit of knowledge on the various techniques that can help you with that form of art. Art is typically something that we appreciate with our visual senses, meaning that we see it. Visual art might be something like paintings or sculptures.
Dali Atomicus (1948), photographed by Philippe Halsman; Philippe Halsman, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Art in our history is not necessarily something we appreciate as an art form, but could also be considered a tool with which we use to evaluate our growth as a species. Each e ra is defined by the forms of art that were created during that time, such as the rock paintings from the caveman era and the romantic paintings during the renaissance. We can see the progression of our civilization through the progression of art. Not only that, but important events are often recorded in art forms like in paintings, and eventually, through photography.
As we developed and technology influenced more and more of our daily lives, the different types of art expanded, which led to the emergence of digital art. This saw the uprise in architectural potential, and we can build more sustainable but still beautiful buildings that can be helpful to our planet in the long run.
Art genres, which are different from art types, are a method of classifying art that was created by the French Royal Academy.
This essentially refers to portraits, the history of art and humanity, still life, and more. Art types, or art forms, are another arts classification method that refers to seven different forms of art, which we will be discussing in the next section.
The Seven Forms of Art
We are all unique human beings, with different perceptions of everything. We all appreciate different things so we will have our ideas over what art is. If we were to go with the seven different kinds of art, it can help us easily place the different categories, so that when we see the different forms of art, we can appreciate them for what they are.
Painting is a new phenomenon to humanity. We have been painting our thoughts and feelings since the dawn of our sentient lives. Cavemen would paint on the rocks using pigments made from minerals, insects, and berries or fruits. They would record events and describe how they lived through depictions against the rock walls in the caves they lived in.
Each ancient civilization had some form of prehistoric rock painting, and they help us see the development of mankind. The ancient Egyptians would paint elaborate paintings on the walls of the tombs of their noble class.
As humanity progressed, so did our painting techniques. We moved on from painting on rocks to painting on paper, or canvases. The type of paint that was used also progressed and there were so many more colors to paint with, making the painting much more life-like.
The pigments in the paints came from certain insects and minerals from the ground.
Some of these ingredients were quite poisonous, so when the development of synthetic pigments came about, things became a lot safer. The amazing thing about painting is that as long as you have your imagination switched on and applied with a little knowledge of the various painting techniques, there is no limit to the art that you can create. Anything goes when it comes to painting – particularly now in this modern world where contemporary art is highly popular.
Humans have been building and creating sculptures for a very long time, and some of our earliest civilizations created sculptures and can still be seen today, even if they are part of ruins. One great example of these ancient sculptures is the Sphinx in Egypt that was built during its ancient days.
Sculpting is a three-dimensional form of art.
This differs greatly from painting, which is two-dimensional, even if it is painted to seem three-dimensional. Sculptures are typically made out of a variety of different materials, but mainly wood, clay, and welding metal.
You are not limited to these materials, because you could build a sculpture out of anything if you have the imagination to think of it. When you are building, there are different methods that you can try like craving, or modeling, building, or casting.
There have been some famous sculptures throughout humanity, not just the Sphinx, but also the Statue of Liberty in New York, and Mount Rushmore.
But, contrary to popular belief, there are many kinds of sculptures, and not all of them are massive. Sculpting became very popular in the toy-making industry, where little figurines of all sorts would be crafted, for all children to enjoy. Some figurines became collectors’ favorites and they are prized more than the paintings in their home.
Most people might not have thought that architecture is one of the forms of art, when in fact, it is a very popular art form even if you did not realize it. Throughout history, architecture has not been the same, and just like painting, it has progressed from the early huts and tents we lived in as ancient humans, to the advanced structures that we live in today.
Architecture is the design of buildings, making it one of the most useful, and arguably, one of the most important forms of art because it is something that we use every day to shelter us and run our businesses from.
Ancient Egypt saw the rise of the famous pyramids, which were designed in a mythical way, which still baffles structural engineers to this day. Africans built dome tents that were impervious to strong winds.
Architecture is not only structures that we live in, they are also structures that have a function, like the aqueducts that were built by the Roman empire. They supplied the cities with water, as well as provided a bridge for people to cross, as they served two purposes.
Some architectural structures are still confusing to many structural engineers to this day. Besides the Pyramids, the leaning tower of Pisa is one of them. This tower is famous because, due to unforeseen circumstances, it leans to one side, and how it is still standing is unknown.
Architecture is not just something that shows how we have progressed structurally, but the way the buildings are embellished is a great way to determine certain cultures. Countries all over the world designed their architecture, and this is where their art form comes in, they are all different in their unique ways.
Literature is a word from the Latin language, and it means “letters”. It may mostly refer to the written form but ultimately means language. Books have always been a popular pastime. The common culture with human beings, no matter where you are from in the world, is that we love stories and storytelling.
There are so many topics our stories could entail, from factual events that happened in the past to futuristic concepts that we have imagined or predicted. Stories are a great way to help us relate to another person, because we can relate to the various characters in the literature, or you can relate to the author of your favorite book in the way they describe things. They could seem to have a similar perception of the world to your own.
Literature is another form of artistic expression, in the form of words that establish stories, or powerful paragraphs that pack a punch with every sentence.
We write letters to our friends and daily, we use certain words of an endearing and loving nature. If you were to write a letter to your boss at work, the words you choose would be a bit more formal.
Literature is not something we only appreciate as an art form, but it is also something that descriptively records our history. We have told stories of the wars gone past, and creatures that may have existed once, but have faded into the world or mythological tales.
The first recorded pieces of literature date back to the Mesopotamian era, which is where they were from. These pieces of literature were religious scriptures and prayers that were written by the Priestess Ur in Sumeria.
The various forms of literature have evolved over the years, and there are a lot more than religious manuscripts for us to learn from. Some people have written novels, poetry, journalism articles, fiction, and non-fiction stories, and so much more. Each one of the world’s cultures has celebrated writers who help to spread their word through the stories they have written.
Music is a unique form of art because it is not something that triggers our visual senses like most other forms of art. Music is something we listen to and appreciate. In a nutshell, music is a collection of different vibrations and notes that are put together in an organized manner. The different arrangement of the vibrations creates different melodies.
If you play certain vibrations or tones, on top of one another, as opposed to before or after, the different tones will harmonize, which is pleasant to listen to.
Human beings have loved music since their earliest times. We all have ancestry within us where drum circles make up a primal sense of ourselves. As time went on, we developed instruments that would play music in various ways. There are wind instruments, string instruments, and percussion. Each serves an important role in the world of music, and when combined create a symphony of sounds that are thrilling to all.
Music can be used to express an array of different feelings.
For the listener, music provides a vibration through which we can relate, as well as remember certain moments that were important to us. Technology has allowed the rise of electronic music, which is on a completely different level.
The modern age saw the rise of the art form that we know fondly as cinema. This could be closely compared to the world of theater because it is something that we sit and watch, and involves many of the same factors that theater is based on.
These factors include props, make up, literature for the dialogue between characters, stage design which relates to architecture, and even wardrobe design, which encompasses fashion design, another form of art entirely.
Interior of the Chicago cinema that operated from mid-1912 until it was bombed in 1944; Unknown author Unknown author, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
This is a fairly recent form of art in comparison to the other types of art discussed in this article. As opposed to putting the development of cinema on the shoulders of an individual inventor as was the case in the past, it has been contributed to by many great minds, which is how most of the best innovative ideas of mankind were developed – collectively.
The first-ever form of recording was done with a machine that would record something moving, and allow one person to watch it at a time. This was called a “kinetoscope”, and this occurred in 1893, but the first show that was open to the public was only in 1895.
In the beginning film and cinema were seen as a scary phenomenon but just like with the telephone, and electric lights, we grew accustomed to them. One of the most famous first film clips was of a train approaching, and people would jump and gasp as the train came right at the screen, but it never hit them. The realistic motion was baffling to many people.
Since then, film has grown into a marvelous invention that has very high-tech and extremely realistic special effects that seem as if the explosion were happening in reality.
Throughout the history of mankind, the theater has typically been a performance art that has included a visual element that was used primarily for entertainment. The Colosseum was one of the most famous locations for bringing people together to be entertained. Despite its current state of ruins, it still holds an iconic place in Roman history, serving as a symbol of the prosperous culture of the Roman Empire.
The Colosseum was seen as one of the places where the theater was born.
For literature, the theater is a place where stories come alive. People could gather together to watch actors on stage pretending to be certain characters from their favorite stories and act in their story with rehearsed dialogue. The theater is not something that we recently developed, and as the Colosseum shows us, has been around for a long time.
We humans like to be entertained. The theater was the perfect method for this because the noble classes could simply sit down and appreciate the display of actions, words, and outfits. Political parties can tell the tale of how they came into power and could spread the word of their intentions through it too.
The theater could be used to tell many different types of stories and during wartime, it was used as a method for spreading propaganda.
The theater is an art form that is unique in the way that it can be used to combine several different forms of art in a single production, like the literature that makes up the dialogue for each character, the design for the stage sets and props used, as well as the makeup and wardrobe designs.
Other Art Forms
Art is not something that can be put in a box, because there are so many more other forms of art out there that we have only just taken a chip out of the iceberg. Art can be anything that you can imagine or dream of, all you need is a little creativity and perception, and there you have it.
Art could be in digital form, if it could be based on food that you eat, it could be something that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional. The modern-day has seen the rise of contemporary art which is something we can appreciate in dance and the different genres of dance that come with that form of art.
The next time someone asks you, “what is form in art”, then you will know that they will need to narrow down their question so that you can give them a more specific answer.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Define Art?
Defining art is not an easy conversation and one that usually strikes up a small debate around the dinner table. Art is relevant to the context it is related to. There are many types of art, seven different types of art to be frank. Most forms of art are something we visually appreciate, but music is also a form of art, and that is something we listen to. Theater is another form of art and this is unique in the way that we appreciate this audibly and watch visually, so it triggers both senses.
What Is the Importance of Art?
Without art, the world would be so bland, but without art, we would have no creative freedom for expressing our emotions. Art helps us with so many facets in our lives, from the culinary world to the political world – there is no limit to the reasons why art is important.
What Are the Seven Different Forms of Art?
Art encompasses us all, and there are many categories, or art genres, that the art types fit into. We call these art forms, and there are seven main kinds of art, which we call literature, film, painting or drawing, live theater, architecture, music, and sculpting.
What Is Form in Drawing?
When you ask what is form in art, the answer would be about the type of art that you are referring to. This would mean art in literature, or film, or drawing. When you ask, “What is the “form” in drawing”? The answer would be referring to how you have drawn something, like the form of a mouse – its height, depth, width, the shape of its tail. Art forms in drawing, or freehand, also refer to the color and the texture you draw in, ultimately it refers to the technique you use whilst drawing.
Jordan Anthony is a Cape Town-based film photographer, curator, and arts writer. She holds a Bachelor of Art in Fine Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where she explored themes like healing, identity, dreams, and intuitive creation in her Contemporary art practice. Jordan has collaborated with various local art institutions, including the KZNSA Gallery in Durban, the Turbine Art Fair, and the Wits Art Museum. Her photography focuses on abstract color manipulations, portraiture, candid shots, and urban landscapes. She’s intrigued by philosophy, memory, and esotericism, drawing inspiration from Surrealism, Fluxus, and ancient civilizations, as well as childhood influences and found objects. Jordan is working for artfilemagazine since 2022 and writes blog posts about art history and photography.
Cite this Article
Jordan, Anthony, “Types of Art – Learning About the Different Forms of Art.” artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source. January 26, 2022. URL: https://artfilemagazine.com/types-of-art/
Anthony, J. (2022, 26 January). Types of Art – Learning About the Different Forms of Art. artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source. https://artfilemagazine.com/types-of-art/