In many English dictionaries visual art is defined as the one which can be appreciated using the sight. This is an umbrella term that covers many different art forms ranging from the “traditional” ones such as painting, sculpture, film-making, photography, crafts, architecture to the applied arts (industrial, graphic, fashion, and interior design and decorative art), and some artistic disciplines which include performing, conceptual and textile arts.
The beginning of the 20th century was quite significant for art because that is when the terms “art” and “artist” were extended to include all the aforementioned visual art forms and they was no longer used restrictively to fine arts such as painting or sculpture.
What are “fine arts” anyways?
Adjective “fine” is used to distinguish the art works created “for the sake of art itself,” as Oscar Wilde would put it, from the ones that are commercial or useful in their nature. However, nowadays many art critics argue that all art is commercial since being an artist is a profession just like any other that is supposed to earn someone a living. The term “fine arts” is mostly used to refer to the work of great painters and sculptures about whom we learn at art history classes.
So, how are contemporary Visual Artists different from “fine art” artists?
Contemporary visual artists are also called postmodernist artists. They are usually focusing on the process of creating art, on how it is displayed and experienced by the audience rather than on the artwork itself. Their goal is to communicate ideas and concepts with their audience and in doing so they often choose to use a combination of different media formats.
It is believed by some that this postmodernist era began in the 1960s with the introduction of some new art forms such as conceptual art, installation art and assemblage, film and video art.
Visual artists got the opportunity to explore a variety of new topics and thus expand the definition visual art. This new trend was extended to the artists dealing with traditional art forms who were now seeking new ways to express themselves.
Some of the new ideas was to put priority on understanding how their art was seen through the eyes of their spectators. This was first used in practice with Pop Art which aimed to make art understood by the general public. Artists such as Warhol and Rosenquist first introduced their commercial art used for advertising on the art market and received positive reviews from their viewers and in time they found their own place in the art museums all over the world.
Another novelty that is not widely known is that there is a subcategory of visual arts called computer art. In their quest for the new media to use in the process of creating art, visual artists started using computers as their tool as early as 1960s. Computer technology is mostly used for capturing or creating images and forms, for editing and printing or 3D printing. Nowadays, it is used so frequently that the line between the traditional and digital art forms has been almost completely eliminated.