Introduction: What are the 7 Art Forms?
As the art world changes, so do the different forms of art. In fact, with the arrival of different types of art throughout the ages, the notion of the seven significant forms of art has been altered several times with the arrival of new media. Furthermore, today when we speak of ‘art’ we all think of ‘visual art’ to be more specific. However, this was not the case.
The seven different art forms are Painting, Sculpture, Literature, Architecture, Theater, Film, and Music. However, back in the day, the seven different art forms were called the Liberal Arts, consisting of Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, and Music.
It is clear to say there has been a substantial development within the seven art forms, from the liberal arts to the art forms we know today. In fact, from a historical perspective, only music and arguably literature was seen as art forms with the Liberal Arts, also known as the Artes Liberales.
During the Middle Ages, visual arts such as painting or sculpture were, in fact, seen as crafts and not ‘art’ as we know it today. The paintings were not signed, and the artist did not have any fame as he was merely a tool to realize a commissioned artwork. However, at a certain point in history, around 1300-1400, the craftsman became aware of their extraordinary talent and personal innovations and contribution to the history of their practice. A landmark was the Arnolfini portrait by Jan Van Eyck, who signed ‘Van Eyck was here’ above the mirror in the background, making a statement as an artist.
The tone was set. With the Renaissance in Italy, the masters became true artists instead of mere craftsmen as the designo interno (the artist’s idea, the image in his mind) became increasingly important. At this point, they argued visual art should be the eighth form of art.
However, with the development of the educational system, the Liberal Arts faded in history. With new technologies and new media appearing, the idea of 7 primary art forms was redesigned entirely. Therefore, this article discusses every art form individually to present you with a complete overview.
Please note: If you are an artist, read our article on How To Succeed As an Artist. Or, feel free to head over to our Services for artists, to get featured on CAI or request professional 1-on-1 advice.
We start with one of the most popular and thus – arguably – one of the most important art forms, painting. Painting has been a compelling force throughout history in the arts. Think of our example of the Arnolfini Portrait mentioned above, in which the artisans started to become artists.
With painting, the artist works on a two-dimensional surface. This surface is mostly a stretched linen, cotton canvas, or wooden panel. Some artists also paint on other surfaces, such as metal or plastic. Think of copper or linoleum, to name a few.
The substance or medium the artist uses is, of course, paint, mostly acrylic, tempera, or oil paint. In order to paint, there is also a medium to manipulate the paint. With tempera, the artist uses egg and water. This technique was prevalent in Italy before oil painting, and its possibilities were introduced by Northern artists. With acrylic paint, the artist only needs water. With oil paint, the artist uses a painting medium of oil, such as linseed oil, walnut oil, or turpentine. Oil painting was invented – or rather perfectionized – by the aforementioned Jan Van Eyck in the 14th century, resulting in a breakthrough in painting, enabling artists to achieve a very high sense of naturalism due to this technique.
Although being vigorously contested in the 1960s and 1970s when painting was proclaimed dead, painting remains one of the most important art forms. When we look at auction results, the paintings break the auction records when it comes to art objects. Think of the recently auctioned Salvator Mundi by Leonardo Da Vinci, which was sold for a whopping 450 million dollars in 2017 at Christie’s (see image above). Furthermore, if one thinks of the most famous artworks, paintings pop into our minds, such as Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Rembrandt’s Night Watch, Manet’s Déjeuner sur L’Herbe, or Picasso’s Guernica.
When it comes to contemporary painting, we have sketched the current state of the arts with a list article of the 20 Most Famous Painters Today and an extensive article titled Contemporary Painting: A Complete Overview. If you are a painter yourself and you are wondering how to succeed as a painter, feel free to read our article How To Succeed As A Painter/Artist: The Things You Actually Need To Know.
For a more comprehensive take on the history of painting, we highly recommend Art That Changed the World: Transformative Art Movements and the Paintings That Inspired Them. Or when it comes to contemporary painting, we highly recommendPainting Todayby Tony Godfrey, published by Phaidon.
The second central pillar of visual arts is, without any doubt, sculpture. With sculpture, visual art is no longer limited to the dimensional surface of a painting, drawing, or photograph, as it consists of all three-dimensional artworks. A sculpture is most often produced using materials such as marble, wood, copper, or bronze.
Even today, these materials are most frequently used. However, with the arrival of new technologies, think of 3D printing, plexiglass, fiberglass, steel, epoxy, or electronic devices, sculpture takes on various materials used by contemporary sculptors.
Not only did the technological developments affect the materials used, but so did the development of art history. One of the critical moments in recent art history is, without any doubt, Marcel Duchamp’s fountain, which introduced the ready-made into the three-dimensional world of sculpture. Ever since, daily objects, which can be pretty much everything, can be implemented in sculpture. Further, with the arrival of Installation Art, three-dimensional artworks are no longer fixed objects but can also be decors or assemblages of objects in a room.
Throughout the 20th century, sculpture has moved towards abstraction alongside painting. In doing so, what started with Rodin’s Modern figurative sculptures (see image above) developed into serene and often Minimal works of art using non-representational shapes in sculpture. Make sure to read our extensive article on Contemporary Sculpture, and discover the state of the arts when it comes to the art form in question and the top 30 sculptors today.
For further reading on sculpture, we highly recommend The Elements of Sculpture: A Viewer’s Guide or, when it comes to contemporary sculpture, we recommendSculpture Todayby Judith Collins.
We briefly move away from the visual arts and take on literature as our third art form. Literature as an art form consists of the art of words or written work. Think of poetry, prose, drama fiction, or non-fiction. The most common non-fiction genres are essays, letters, diaries, and biographies.
Literature has been considered a form of art for centuries. Think of ancient poetry or Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy (see image above). Throughout history, one can identify the same art movements of visual arts in literature. Think of realism, romanticism, surrealism, or Minimalism.
A significant reference for literature as an art form – and recommended for further reading – is The Norton Anthology of World Literature.
Up next, we encounter architecture as our fourth form of art. Architecture has always had an obvious and strong connection with art. Architecture is not only a practice of constructing buildings or other structures. It also has a powerful cultural, aesthetic, and even ideological purpose.
Architectural monuments are cultural symbols that define not only a location, such as a city but also an era. They are a historical witness of a particular period as we have always strived towards grand achievements with our architecture. Architecture is a form of communication. It can tell a story, intimidate its visitors, convince someone of a specific belief or contribute to a spiritual experience.
As with literature, visual art movements are also translated into a particular movement in architecture. Think of the classical architecture in Greece, the Gothic architecture in the Medieval ages filled with gothic sculptures and religious paintings, the Renaissance and Brunelleschi dome in Firenze, or Frank Gehry’s deconstructivist museum building in Bilbao (see image above).
For further reading on the history of architecture as a form of art, we highly recommend Marvin Trachtenberg’s Architecture: From Prehistory to Postmodernity.
Our fifth form of art consists of theatre or the performing arts in general, with the exception of music. Think of dance or drama that must be performed in front of an audience. Although very different in many ways compared to other visual arts, theatre or the performing arts are intensely expressive, marked by emotions and feelings, on stage and in the theatre hall.
With this form of art, there is no object. The art itself is in the execution, making it temporary and volatile. As a result, every execution of a specific work is different than before, as it is impossible to reproduce the same performance exactly. In recent years, it has become possible to capture the performance or allow it to be experienced in private through film due to the arrival of photography and video. However, the intensity or the so-called on-stage magic is at its best during the live version of the work.
In theatre or dance, there is more than just one artist, as many different actors influence the artwork. The choreographer or writer is often seen as the leading artist of the work in question. However, the stage designers, performers, light technicians, the composer of the music, the costume designers, and many more contribute to the final product and have a significant influence.
A very strong history is connected to theatre or the performing arts as an art form. For further reading, we highly recommend The Art of Theatre: Then and Now.
We arrive at our second to last art form: film or cinema. Film was invented by the turn of the 19th century to the 20th century. With the invention and experimentation of motion pictures, an entirely new art form was introduced. At first, people were intensely occupied with the so-called cinema of attractions, in which the film’s central idea was simply the wonder of moving pictures.
As a result, the first films did not have an actual storyline. For instance, one of the most iconic early films is simply the arrival of a train at a railway station. However, as we entered the first few decades of the 20th century, the narrative became much more important as montage techniques became essential methods to produce films. Artists were very interested in film from the start. Some of the most influential films are made by visual artists, such as the surrealist Luis Bunuel and his iconic picture Un Chien Andalou from 1929 (see image above).
For further reading, we highly recommend Film History: An Introduction.
Our final form of art is the art of music. Art is not an object, nor can it be visually experienced with music. The art itself is the arrangement of sound in time. As with theatre, music needs a performance. As a result, it is only temporary and volatile. Music is one of the most expressive forms of art and has a very direct impact.
Music has a very extensive history, from Ancient pan flutes to 21st-century pop music. As discussed in our introduction, music was already an art form during the Liberal Arts and has always had a very high social status.
For further reading on the history of music, we highly recommend A History of Western Music.
 Parker, H. “The Seven Liberal Arts.”The English Historical Review5, no. 19 (1890): 417–61. http://www.jstor.org/stable/546447.
 Panofsky, Erwin. “Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait.”The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs64, no. 372 (1934): 117–27. http://www.jstor.org/stable/865802.
What are the 7 forms of art? ›
However, today contemporary fine art is more than just painting and is defined by 7 fine art disciplines: painting, sculpture, architecture, poetry, music, literature, and dance.What is form in the 7 elements of art? ›
Form is a three-dimensional object that has height, width and depth, such as cubes, spheres and cylinders. It is the physical three-dimensional appearance and structure of an object. More complex objects can also be simplified in terms of its light and shade.What are the different forms of art briefly explain each? ›
Traditional categories within the arts include literature (including poetry, drama, story, and so on), the visual arts (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.), the graphic arts (painting, drawing, design, and other forms expressed on flat surfaces), the plastic arts (sculpture, modeling), the decorative arts (enamelwork, ...How many types of art forms are there? ›
The arts have also been classified as seven: painting, architecture, sculpture, literature, music, performing and cinema.What are the 7 elements of art quizlet? ›
The seven elements of art are line, shape, space, value, form, texture, and color. These elements are the building blocks, or ingredients, for making art works.What are the seven 7 functions of art? ›
- REMEMBERING. ...
- HOPE. ...
- SORROW. ...
- REBALANCING. ...
- SELF-UNDERSTANDING. ...
- GROWTH. ...
In addition to what we might think of as the classical elements: earth, water, fire, air, and gas (space), in many ancient eastern concepts of self there are an additional two: consciousness (or thought itself) and the element of spirit. Each of us is comprised of all seven elements.What are the year 7 formal elements of art? ›
The art elements are line, shape, space, form, tone, texture, pattern, colour and composition.What does value mean in the 7 elements of art? ›
Value is one of the seven elements of art. Value deals with the lightness or darkness of a color. Since we see objects and understand objects because of how dark or light they are, value is incredible important to art. (I'll remind you that drawing and painting is about seeing.) Value deals directly to light.What is the importance of art forms? ›
Art can communicate information, shape our everyday lives, make a social statement and be enjoyed for aesthetic beauty.
What are the 8 forms of art? ›
- Painting. Painting is what most people think of when we think of art. ...
- Sculpture. Sculpture is three-dimensional art made by one of four basic processes: carving, modelling, casting, or constructing. ...
- Photography. ...
- Digital art. ...
- Drawing. ...
- Ceramic. ...
- Collage. ...
Pop Art is perhaps one of the most well-known and well-loved art styles throughout history and for good reason. It is, after all, a reimagination of sorts that “popped up” and took inspiration from mass or popular culture, particularly American consumerist culture, hence the name.What are examples of form in art? ›
An Element of Art
A form is a shape in three dimensions, and, like shapes, can be geometric or organic. Geometric forms are forms that are mathematical, precise, and can be named, as in the basic geometric forms: sphere, cube, pyramid, cone, and cylinder.
The goal of this unit is to introduce students to the basic elements of art (color, line, shape, form, and texture) and to show students how artists use these elements in different ways in their work.What are the 7 elements and 8 principles of art? ›
The elements of art are color, form, line, shape, space, and texture. The principles of art are scale, proportion, unity, variety, rhythm, mass, shape, space, balance, volume, perspective, and depth.What is the relationship between the 7 elements and art and 7 principles of art? ›
The elements of art are the visual tools that the artist uses to create a composition. These are line, shape, color, value, form, texture, and space. The principles of art represent how the artist uses the elements of art to create an effect and to help convey the artist's intent.Does every piece of art contain the 7 elements? ›
All art, whether two-dimensional like a painting or three-dimensional like a sculpture, contains one or more of the seven elements of art.What are the first 7 elements? ›
- H. Hydrogen. 1.0079.
- He. Helium. 4.0026.
- Li. Lithium. 6.941.
- Be. Beryllium. 9.0122.
- B. Boron. 10.811.
- C. Carbon. 12.0107.
- N. Nitrogen. 14.0067.
- O. Oxygen. 15.9994.
Principles of design include emphasis, alignment and balance, contrast, repetition, proportion, movement, and white space.What is the most important element of art? ›
What is the Most Important Element of Art? Every piece of visual art no matter how it is made will combine at least 2 of the elements of art but they are all dependant on the viewer's ability to see the art in the first place. Value is the most important element because it is the foundation of our visual perception.
What is the meaning of form in art? ›
In relation to art the term form has two meanings: it can refer to the overall form taken by the work – its physical nature; or within a work of art it can refer to the element of shape among the various elements that make up a work. Henry Moore OM, CH. Recumbent Figure (1938) Tate. © The Henry Moore Foundation.Why is value the most important element of art? ›
Value is used to create a focal point within a painting or drawing. The human eye is immediately drawn to a light element against a dark element. This creates, the focal point of interest. To create the illusion of depth, gradations of value are also used.
The first and oldest form of prehistoric art are petroglyphs (cupules), which appeared throughout the world during the Lower Paleolithic.What are the 3 main forms of art? ›
The three fine arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture are sometimes also called the “major arts”, with “minor arts” referring to commercial or decorative art styles.How important are the art forms in our society? ›
Artists provide creative, intellectual and emotional insights into society at large, impacting the masses and challenging the status quo. Art helps cultures unite and boosts economic growth—helping the world become a prettier, better and happier place to live in.What are the 9 different natures of the art form? ›
- 1) The Music. According to this principle, music is the first classified, the most ethereal, the one that imposes less superstructures on its user. ...
- 2) Poetry. ...
- 3) The Painting. ...
- 4) Sculpture. ...
- 5) Dance. ...
- 6) Comic. ...
- 7) Theater. ...
- 8) Cinema.
The 4 Basic Forms
It is vital that an artist in training gains a complete understanding for each one of these forms. This includes recognizing the form in the wild and being able to draw the form with a chosen medium. The four basic forms are the cylinder, cone, sphere, and cube.
1. The Mona Lisa – 10 million per year. Unsurprisingly, the most visited painting in the world is also the most famous portrait ever painted – the Mona Lisa. Created by Leonardo da Vinci at the start of the 16th century, it's valued at well over $660 million.What are examples of forms? ›
What are Examples of Forms? Forms are documents that collect information from one's clients, customers, and respondents. Some common examples of forms include forms for purchases, incident reports, hazards, quality control, contact tracing, and feedback gathering.What are the basic art? ›
What Are The Fundamental of Art? The fundamentals of art are Color, Composition, Value, Form, Anatomy, Brushwork, and Perspective. These principal art fundamentals are constitute concrete visual components that work together as they overlap and influence each other.
What are the 3 main types of art? ›
The three fine arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture are sometimes also called the “major arts”, with “minor arts” referring to commercial or decorative art styles.What are the 9 principles of art? ›
The 9 Principles of Design Are: Contrast, Emphasis, Movement, Repetition, Proportion, Rhythm, Balance, Unity, and Variety and they are the foundations of creating art and are the rules for how Artists arrange elements or the Elements of Art to create an Artwork.What are the main form of art? ›
The seven major forms of art are painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, music, cinema, and theater.What are the major functions of art? ›
The functions of art normally fall into three categories: physical, social, and personal. These categories can and often do overlap in any given piece of art.What are some of the major art methods? ›
What are five techniques in art? Five techniques used by artists to create fine art include drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, and photography. There are many diverse methods and limitless materials used to create art.How many rules of art are there? ›
The principles of art and design are balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, rhythm, and unity/variety. The use of these principles can help determine whether a painting is successful, and whether or not the painting is finished. The artist decides what principles of art he or she wants to use in a painting.What is the best definition of art? ›
Britannica Dictionary definition of ART. 1. [noncount] : something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.How many fundamentals of art are there? ›
The six fundamentals of art are the "rules" artists generally abide by. Each rule or component — anatomy, perspective, form and structure, lighting and shadow, color, and composition — will contribute to the overall visual impact of your artwork.