What is Fine Art? - Definition & Types

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  • 0:03 Fine Art
  • 0:42 Perceptions of Fine Art
  • 1:36 2-D Fine Art
  • 2:46 3-D Fine Art
  • 3:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Stephanie Przybylek

Stephanie has taught studio art and art history classes to audiences of all ages. She holds a master's degree in Art History.

Are all paintings considered fine art? Is an extremely beautiful Persian carpet an example of fine art? In this lesson, learn what fine art is and explore some of the different types.

Fine Art

Have you ever wanted to create something to express yourself? If so, you were exploring a fundamental idea connected to fine art. Definitions can be slippery, but in basic terms, fine art is something created for aesthetic or intellectual value rather than utilitarian or practical purpose.

Fine art involves creative expression, and it doesn't have to be beautiful. It might convey an idea or an emotion or explore social commentary. The concept of ''art for art's sake,'' originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the rise of abstract art - art that exists for its own purpose.

Perceptions of Fine Art

Some people argue that anything made on commission or for a client isn't fine art, but the nature of art and artists has changed over time. Famous artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were commissioned, and few people would argue that the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel isn't fine art.

Additionally, there's long been a perceived difference between fine art and decorative arts or crafts, like glass, ceramics, and textiles, that have a utilitarian or applied purpose. Decorative arts and crafts tend to be functional. However aesthetically striking a finely woven Persian carpet might be, it serves a basic purpose as a floor covering.

The definition of fine art has broadened and changed throughout the 20th and 21st centuries with the development of new mediums like photography and digital formats. Who knows what new mediums will be used to create fine art in the future.

2-D Fine Art

Some fine art is two-dimensional. The most basic is drawing, or the idea of using a tool like a pencil, pen, or charcoal to create lines or shadows, a practice fundamental to many other kinds of fine art. Another type of two-dimensional fine art is painting, which includes mediums like watercolor, oil, and acrylics. A painting may be created on a wooden panel, a canvas, or almost any other surface.

Other types of two-dimensional fine art may involve processes that create more than one image. Printmaking involves the use of an etching, engraving, or screen-printing to transfer an image from one surface to another, usually in very high quality and limited quantities to qualify as fine art.

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