A portrait is a painting of one or more human figures. A portrait may include the head and shoulders of the sitter(s), a three-quarter view (from the head to below the waist), and/or a full-length view of the figure(s). A portrait painting may also include attributes that reveal more about the personality of the sitter. These attributes may include the type of clothing that is worn, jewelry, hairstyle, and other objects placed in the vicinity of the subject, such as a book, a pair of glasses, etc. Portraits may be depicted with a plain, dark background, or with a view of an interior space, such as a bedroom or study room; they may also include a window with a view of the surrounding landscape.
A landscape is a painting that shows a scene from nature in which the place or the land is the main subject. Landscape paintings are defined by a horizon line, which separates the earth from the sky. The horizon line is equivalent to the viewer’s eye level, and is generally placed in the center of the composition as a horizontal axis. However, the placement of the horizon line may be closer to the top or bottom of the picture plane depending on how much land or sky the artist chooses to represent. A centrally placed horizon line adds symmetry to the composition, but an artist may choose to place it higher or lower to make the viewer’s perspective more dynamic. Landscapes might represent a dramatic location such as a waterfall, or an ordinary location such as the artist’s own garden.
A genre scene is a scene from everyday life in a particular time and place. In contrast to a portrait, a genre scene captures the day-to-day activities of people in the home or community. For example, people depicted in genre scenes may be engaged in a casual conversation, working in a factory or office, sewing a knitted sweater, or having a picnic or meal with family and friends. Scenes from every day life may also help us understand the historical context of a moment in time, in terms of the customs and labor practices that characterize certain groups of people of a particular class, race, gender, ethnicity, or region.
A sculpture is a three-dimensional work of art that has height, width, and depth. When viewing a sculpture, you can walk around it to get multiple views and comprehend what the forms look like in three-dimensional space. Sculpture, therefore, should be distinguished from paintings, which are created on a flat surface to create the illusion of space rather than occupying a “real” and physical space that the viewer is situated in. Since sculpture is three-dimensional, artists tend to use materials that can be molded like clay, carved like marble, or when transformed into another material, produce solid forms made of bronze or glass. Sculpture may also be constructed with found objects that have been discarded and reassembled. Some sculptures might represent figures or objects, or forms inspired by the imagination.
Abstraction deviates from realism and reduces the world to simple forms, lines, and colors. Likewise, abstract art provides a general view of the world, at times alluding to particular objects that share the same basic forms. Abstraction can also be formless or fluid, evoking an emotional response to color or recalling ideas that inform our understanding of visual phenomena.
Mixed Media Works
Works of visual art that combine various materials, including traditional art materials and or found objects, often in layers or three dimensions, and often employing varied techniques. While the used of mixed media dates to the ancient world, the inclusion of ordinary material in art appeared in the late nineteenth century and became more common in the early twentieth century.
Note: Works of visual art that include other art forms such as music can be referred to as “multi-media.”