Visual art includes many different types of artistic expression. Traditionally, it has been broken up into three categories: fine arts, decorative art and commercial art, but modern interpretations of the term have begun to include other forms of visually represented artistic activity. Among these modern additions to the visual arts are photography, filmmaking and graphic design. Despite these changes, the broad category of visual art remains distinct from both performing arts and crafts.
Traditionally, painting was considered one of the primary fine arts. However, painters began to change the way they viewed their medium, beginning to think of it not as an object to be hung on the wall but as an image to be captured on canvas. This was the birth of what we now know as modern art.
In this era, artists used their imaginations and their knowledge of light to create images that were not simply representational but which actually captured a moment in time. This change in the perception of paintings opened up a new area of creative expression, and some of the most famous pieces of visual art ever created were created at this time.
As the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century brought about more and more mass production, artists were able to produce their work in larger numbers than ever before. They were also able to use new materials and techniques, which allowed them to produce more complex, textured works. This changed the way we viewed sculpture, as well as other visual art forms.
For example, sculptors were no longer restricted to working in a solid material such as wood or stone; they could now cast their work into plaster, clay and wax. This made the creation of complex, abstract or non-representational sculptures possible. Similarly, painters were no longer limited to the depiction of real objects; they could create abstract works that focus on empty space or they could restyle iconic paintings for advertising purposes, such as Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans or Japanese designer Takashi Murakami’s restyling of a Van Gogh painting for French eyewear company Keloptic in 2002.
These kinds of creative innovations led to the development of another important type of visual art — decorative arts. Decorative art is defined as a form of art that serves both a functional and aesthetic purpose. It can include ornamental works such as the intricately designed and ornately carved and painted Faberge eggs constructed by Peter Carl Faberge, but it also extends to more mundane objects such as tableware and home furnishings.
As a result of this evolution, the term “visual art” has expanded significantly over the years. This has largely been driven by a growing affluence in the world, which has caused large investments to be made in tertiary level art colleges and the creation of whole government departments devoted to promoting visual arts and giving grants and special stipends to artists. It has also enabled the development of new techniques within traditional fine art disciplines such as painting, with the invention of acrylic paints and the introduction of silkscreen printing, for instance.