What Is The Difference Between Fine Arts and Visual Arts?

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Fine art and visual arts are two terms that are used interchangeably. There can be confusion about what they each mean and what is different.

Fine art is a broad term used to describe many different types of art; one of the arts under the umbrella of fine art is visual arts. Fine arts can include arts such as music, theatre, dance, literature, and other types of art. In contrast, Visual art is about only arts of a visual nature, such as painting, sculpture, or filmmaking.

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Fine Arts Vs. Visual Arts

Fine art and visual arts are used a lot, but their meanings and differences can be confusing. When I get confused about what something means, I will turn to the dictionary to check out the dictionary definitions.

Fine Art Definition

The definition in the Oxford Dictionary of Fine Art is:

“creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content”
“the convergence of popular culture in fine art”

Oxford Dictionary

Looking at this definition, we can see that fine art is a broad term that encompasses many different art forms, including visual art. Fine art focuses on imaginative or creative, aesthetic or visual, and intellectual content.

Visual Art Definition

If we look at the definition of visual art, we will find that visual art is not the same as fine art. In the Oxford dictionary, Visual art is defined as:

“Creative art whose products are to be appreciated by sight, such as painting, sculpture, and film-making (as contrasted with literature and music)
‘public exhibitions of paintings or other works of visual art

Oxford Lexico Dictionary

Visual art is also a creative art, but visual art is mainly visual. There is no intellectual component in the definition as in the description of fine arts. Visual arts also include painting, sculpture, and filmmaking. Disciplines as literature, poetry, or music are not included in the visual arts.

Fine Art and Visual Art Differences Explained

Though both definitions of fine art and visual art are pretty similar, there are some differences between fine art and visual art. There is a lot of crossover between these terms, so some of their differences are not apparent.

Some differences between fine art and visual arts:

  • Fine Arts – Fine arts are a broad art category created solely for imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content.
  • Fine Arts Include – Fine art is a large umbrella that includes visual arts, performing arts, film, music, poetry, and dance. It is a very broad term used for many forms of art.
  • Visual Art – Visual art is art that is appreciated by sight only such as painting, photography, sculpture or filmmaking. Visual arts are limited to artwork that is appreciated through viewing.
  • Visual Art is Part of Fine Art – Visual arts is listed as one part of fine arts, so visual arts goes under the umbrella of fine arts.

There is a lot of crossover between these two terms, but one of the main aspects is that fine art is an extensive term used to describe many forms of art, and one of those forms of art under the fine art umbrella is visual arts.

Fine Art and Visual Art Redefined

Fine art can also be defined as all forms of art and art that a museum would want to collect or show. That is why a museum may use fine art after its name.

In reality, not every art produced will be museum-worthy; only a tiny amount of all the art produced is museum-quality. If we use this definition of fine art, we can say that not all visual art would be classified as fine art.

Many considered the definition of fine art to include art done with skill. Someone may refer to themselves as a “fine art artist.” or “someone who has studied fine art.” This usually means someone who has spent the time and effort to attend college or university-level art classes to study art.

Many Universities will also define this as the “College of Fine Arts.” My former University, Brigham Young University, has a “College of Fine Arts and Communications.” Under the umbrella of the fine arts is the following:

  • Department of Art
  • School of Communications
  • Department of Dance
  • School of Music
  • Department of Theatre and Media Arts
  • Department of Design

Their definition of Fine Arts is similar to many other universities worldwide, including art, communications, dance, music, theatre, media, film, design, graphic design, animation, illustration, photography, advertising, journalism, public relations, and television.

Some areas are pure visual arts (i.e., photography, art, film). Still, others would not be such as journalism and some public relations and communications. But they are all under this vast fine arts and communications umbrella.

Technology today has blurred the lines between fine art and visual arts even more than they once were. Where fine arts and visual arts were once more defined, now they include a host of art forms.

Anita Louise Art is dedicated to art education, great artists, and inspiring others to find and create their art. We love art that uplifts and inspires. #ArtToMakeYouSmile! #ArtToMakeYouHappy!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between fine arts and visual arts?

Fine arts and visual arts are often used interchangeably. Still, fine arts typically refer to traditional art forms, such as painting, sculpture, and printmaking. In contrast, visual arts can include a broader range of art forms, such as film, photography, and digital art.

Are fine arts and visual arts the same thing?

While there is some overlap between fine arts and visual arts, they are not necessarily the same thing. Fine arts typically focus on traditional art forms, while visual arts encompass a wider range of art forms that are primarily focused on visual communication.

What are the similarities between fine arts and visual arts?

Fine arts and visual arts share similarities in that they are both focused on the creation of visual works of art that are intended to communicate ideas or emotions. They also both require an understanding of composition, color theory, and other foundational art principles.

What is studio art?

: Studio arts refers to art forms that are created through hands-on, creative processes, such as painting, drawing, sculpture, and printmaking.

What are some examples of fine arts?

: Examples of fine arts include painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, and other traditional art forms that are primarily focused on aesthetic expression.

Can studying visual arts lead to a career in graphic design?

Yes, studying visual arts can provide a foundation for a career in graphic design, as it can help to develop skills in composition, color theory, and visual communication.

What are the benefits of studying visual arts?

Studying visual arts can help to develop a wide range of skills, including creative problem-solving, visual literacy, and communication skills. It can also provide a foundation for a career in various fields, such as advertising, graphic design, or media production.

Where Did Art Come From?

Many historians believe art started first in Africa; many ancient art forms have been found worldwide. Cavemen art is some of the earliest forms of art. Many cultures put art on their bodies through tattooing and other art forms.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading Where Did Art Come From?.

Art and History – Understanding Our Past

When we study art, it helps us understand and gives us clues to the past. As we see what the artist has painted, we can piece together what life was like during that time in history. Art also helps us better understand the cultures and people who once lived and their life.

You can discover more by reading Art and History – Understanding Our Past by clicking here.

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