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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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The Collège de Vendôme, the setting of Louis Lambert
Louis Lambert is a French novel by Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), included in the Études philosophiques section of his novel sequence La Comédie humaine. Set mostly in a school at Vendôme, it examines the life and theories of a boy genius fascinated by the Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772). Balzac wrote Louis Lambert during the summer of 1832 while he was staying with friends at the Château de Saché. The novel contains a minimal plot, focusing mostly on the metaphysical ideas of its boy-genius protagonist and his only friend (eventually revealed to be Balzac himself). Although it is not a significant example of the realist style for which Balzac became famous, the novel provides insight into the author's own childhood. Specific details and events from the author's life – including punishment from teachers and social ostracism – suggest a fictionalized autobiography. Critics panned the novel, but Balzac believed that it provided an important look at philosophy, especially metaphysics. As he developed the scheme for La Comédie humaine, he placed Louis Lambert in the Études philosophiques section, and later returned to the same themes in his novel Séraphîta, about an androgynous angelic creature.

Featured picture

Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur, an 1878 painting by Maurycy Gottlieb depicting Ashkenazi Jews praying on Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. The artist has painted himself (to the right of the seated rabbi, looking outwards) among the people of his hometown of Drohobych.

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Harris Theater

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The Naked Maja by Francisco Goya


Featured biography

El Greco: Self portrait (1604)
El Greco was a prominent painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. El Greco was born in Crete, which was at that time part of the Republic of Venice, and when he was 26 travelled to Venice to study. In 1570 he moved to Rome, where he opened a workshop and executed a series of works. During his stay in Italy, El Greco enriched his style with elements of Mannerism and of the Venetian Renaissance. In 1577, he emigrated to Toledo, Spain, where he lived and worked until his death. In Toledo, El Greco received several major commissions and produced his best known paintings. El Greco's dramatic and expressionistic style was met with puzzlement by his contemporaries but found appreciation in the 20th century. El Greco is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism, while his personality and works were a source of inspiration for poets and writers such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis. El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school. He is best known for tortuously elongated figures and often fantastic or phantasmagorical pigmentation, marrying Byzantine traditions with those of Western civilization.

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Roxana Pavel Goldstein and Elias Goldstein (violins) with the DePaul Symphony (Chicago) conducted by Cliff Colnotl



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W. H. Auden

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