The Arts Portal

The arts is a vast subdivision of culture, encompassing many creative endeavors and disciplines. It is a broader term than "art", which, used as of a field, usually means only the visual arts. The arts encompass the visual arts, the literary arts and the performing artsmusic, theatre, dance and film, among others. This list is by no means comprehensive, but only meant to introduce the concept of the arts. For all intents and purposes, the history of the arts begins with the history of art. The arts might have origins in early human evolutionary prehistory.

Ancient Greek art saw the veneration of the animal form and the development of equivalent skills to show musculature, poise, beauty and anatomically correct proportions. Ancient Roman art depicted gods as idealized humans, shown with characteristic distinguishing features (e.g. Jupiter's thunderbolt). In Byzantine and Gothic art of the Middle Ages, the dominance of the church insisted on the expression of biblical and not material truths. Eastern art has generally worked in a style akin to Western medieval art, namely a concentration on surface patterning and local colour (meaning the plain colour of an object, such as basic red for a red robe, rather than the modulations of that colour brought about by light, shade and reflection). A characteristic of this style is that the local colour is often defined by an outline (a contemporary equivalent is the cartoon). This is evident in, for example, the art of India, Tibet and Japan. Religious Islamic art forbids iconography, and expresses religious ideas through geometry instead. The physical and rational certainties depicted by the 19th-century Enlightenment were shattered not only by new discoveries of relativity by Einstein and of unseen psychology by Freud, but also by unprecedented technological development. Paradoxically the expressions of new technologies were greatly influenced by the ancient tribal arts of Africa and Oceania, through the works of Paul Gauguin and the Post-Impressionists, Pablo Picasso and the Cubists, as well as the Futurists and others.

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St. Mary Redcliffe from the north west
The buildings and architecture of Bristol are an eclectic combination of styles, ranging from the medieval to 20th century brutalism and beyond. During the mid-19th century, Bristol Byzantine, an architectural style unique to the city was developed, of which several examples have survived. Buildings from most of the architectural periods of the United Kingdom can be seen throughout Bristol. Parts of the fortified city and castle date back to the medieval era, as do some churches dating from the 12th century onwards. As the city grew, it merged with its surrounding villages, each with its own character and centre, often clustered around a parish church. The construction of the city's floating harbour, taking in the wharves on the Avon and Frome rivers, provided a focus for industrial development and the growth of the local transport infrastructure, including the Clifton Suspension Bridge and Temple Meads railway station. The 20th century saw further expansion of the city, the growth of the University of Bristol, and the arrival of the aircraft industry. During World War II, the city centre suffered from extensive bombing during the Bristol Blitz. The redevelopment of shopping centres, office buildings, and the harbourside continues to this day.

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Coat of arms of the Russian EmpireCr: Retouched by Diliff

The Great Coat of Arms of the Russian Empire, as presented to Emperor Paul I in October 1800. The use of the double-headed eagle in the coat of arms (seen in multiple locations here) goes back to the 15th century. With the fall of Constantinople and the end of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the Grand Dukes of Muscovy came to see themselves as the successors of the Byzantine heritage, a notion reinforced by the marriage of Ivan III to Sophia Paleologue. Ivan adopted the golden Byzantine double-headed eagle in his seal, first documented in 1472, marking his direct claim to the Roman imperial heritage and his assertion as sovereign equal and rival to the Holy Roman Empire.

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painting of coach and horses

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The Naked Maja by Francisco Goya


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Paul Kane, Self-portrait, ca. 1845
Paul Kane was an Irish-Canadian painter, famous for his paintings of First Nations peoples in the Canadian West and other Native Americans in the Oregon Country. Largely self-educated, Kane grew up in Toronto (then known as York) and trained himself by copying European masters on a study trip through Europe. He undertook two voyages through the wild Canadian northwest in 1845 and from 1846 to 1848. The first trip took him from Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie and back. Having secured the support of the Hudson's Bay Company, he set out on a second, much longer voyage from Toronto across the Rocky Mountains to Fort Vancouver and Fort Victoria in the Oregon Country and back again. On both trips Kane sketched and painted Native Americans and documented their life. Upon his return to Toronto, he produced from these sketches more than one hundred oil paintings. Kane's work, particularly his field sketches, are still a valuable resource for ethnologists. The oil paintings he did in his studio are considered a part of the Canadian heritage, although he often embellished these considerably, departing from the accuracy of his field sketches in favour of more dramatic scenes.

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