The term “liberal arts” has been around for quite some time, but what does it mean these days? And how did it become so popular in the first place?
Originally, the word “arts” referred to all of the disciplines that involved creating things—sculpture, painting, writing, etc.—but such large categories can be tricky.
Some would argue that music is an art form because it involves designing sounds and putting them together into songs and stories, but many wouldn’t include dance as part of the mix.
Then there are those who consider chess an artistic activity, but few would say the same about checkers or go. (We hope you noticed a pattern here.)
Another important component of the liberal arts is educating the mind through literature, philosophy, and psychology. These areas not only expand your knowledge base, but also challenge pre-existing notions of truth.
It’s no wonder then why intellectuals often refer to the study of humanities as “breadth courses.” They feel this wider education gives you a strong foundation from which to draw insights and concepts into other fields.
But before we get too academic, let us discuss one specific discipline under the broad umbrella of the liberal arts: art.
What makes something qualify as art depends mostly on two factors: 1) whether it was intended to convey a message or influence others, and 2) whether its aesthetic appeal is more than just pretty shapes and colors.
Definition of fine arts
The term “fine art” comes from the word fin, which means exquisite or superior in quality. The Latin suffix ars, meaning skill, makes our modern fine art as we know it.
The term [“liberal arts”] is also unique because there’s no direct equivalent to it in English. It dates back at least 2,000 years when ancient Greek scholars coined this way of referring to the study of literature, philosophy, and the sciences.
In Rome, they called these three subjects trivium — teaching that cultivates intelligence or logic, rhetoric being the most basic component. Over time, people extended the concept, applying it not just to education but life. In fact, some say it inspired the Renaissance!
So what are the liberal arts? They’re learning about knowledge and wisdom through reading, writing, mathematics, music, and other areas. By emphasizing such diversity, students gain skills beyond those focused only on artistic expression. These include literacy and numeracy, for example, along with management, communication, and organizational concepts.
This isn’t to downplay the importance of creative talent or even to take away the value of studying painting, sculpture, or performing arts. But giving equal weight to all five branches of the liberal arts encourages students to develop their potential.
Relationships between the two
The term “fine art” is usually considered to refer to artistic expressions that use of materials such as color, line, shape, proportion, etc., are important to understanding what the artist was trying to convey.
While this is definitely true, it isn’t the only difference between the two. Another key factor in defining which type of studies an individual can pursue really comes down to how they feel about art.
Does the person like things that are aesthetically pleasing to look at? Or do they prefer practical uses for objects?
If you enjoy looking at pretty things, then studying fine arts is right for you! You will be spending your time learning about colors, shapes, and textures, but you won’t necessarily have to apply those skills in a painting or sculpture room.
You could instead choose to study interior design, fashion, photography, or any number of fields where aesthetics matter.
On the other hand, people who love practical things might want to consider becoming architects, engineers, or vocational professionals related to the field of art.
Importance of relationships
The importance of relationships in our lives makes another good reason to consider both liberal arts and fine arts equally valuable.
As we know, relationships play an integral part in anyone’s life. Whether it’s with family, friends, colleagues, or even strangers, developing strong interpersonal connections is essential.
Popular misconceptions about the two
There is no difference between popular arts and fine art! They are both forms of expression that transcend mediums, styles, and genres. A popular artist like Taylor Swift can be considered an artistic genius because of how she uses music to tell stories.
A well-known painter such as Pablo Picasso made masterpieces in every genre he worked in including landscapes, portraits, still life paintings, and more.
This proves that being a professional artist does not limit your ability to create. It only raises your bar for what you consider worthy of creating. You do not need to stick to traditional painting techniques or media to achieve greatness.
It is very important to understand the term “artistic” before defining the terms “popular art” and “fine art.” An artistic person creates works that use principles of creativity and aesthetics in order to inspire others.
These concepts include color theory, proportion, and motifs. All artists must have these fundamentals in place before they begin designing anything. These days, people with little formal training can produce work that seems authentic and creative. This is due to the availability of technology and resources such as YouTube videos and blogs.
Degree programs in the two
The term “liberal arts” comes from ancient Greece, where it referred to four subjects: literature, music, art, and philosophy.
These studies focused not only on how to describe the importance of beauty within humanity but also what it means to be human—our values, beliefs, and understanding of our place in the world.
By the Renaissance Era, liberal arts had branched out into other areas as well, such as psychology, anthropology, and sociology. In fact, some schools still use those terms today!
With technology advancing at an unprecedented rate, there is now no limit to what students can explore through the various branches of the liberal arts. A student could choose to study computer science, marketing, or even business with a concentration in creativity. All of these fields apply the knowledge of humanities to new technologies for applications and innovation.
However, many people associate the word “liberal” with something less positive. Some say that studying the liberal arts makes you more open-minded about things because they emphasize concepts like reason, logic, and skepticism instead of moral foundations.
Differences between the two
The term “liberal arts” comes from Ancient Greece, where it referred to all of the humanities — literature, history, and philosophy being some of the most well-known examples. With the rise of universities in Europe during the Renaissance, the liberal arts were broken down into three different areas: logic, rhetoric, and grammar/eloquence.
Some people refer to these fields as the “humanities,” but this is confusing because there are other disciplines that aren’t considered art (geology, for example). The terms “fine arts” or just “arts” are usually used instead to describe only those studies that have an emphasis on creating works of art.
However, even though they don’t use the word “art,” many students take classes in the various departments under the broad umbrella of the liberal arts! For instance, psychology has a lot of beauty oriented research going on, so someone taking psych would learn about how to use artistic techniques to assess mental health and wellness.
Given that almost every field has some element of creativity involved, I think it makes sense to include the creative side of things like writing, drawing, music, and theater among others that belong under the same label.
Examples of famous artists in the two
Artists are typically categorized as either being in the liberal arts or fine art departments. However, this distinction is not very clear cut. In fact, it can be quite tricky to determine which category an artist actually fits into!
Many people assume that since someone has studied something like history or literature that they are more likely to be considered part of the liberal arts department. On the other hand, there are many people who only know about popular media like movies and TV shows so they feel that anyone who studies those things must belong to the fine art department.
Neither assumption is totally wrong but both tend to exclude certain types of artists. This article will talk about some examples of how different areas of study influence what kind of art people make and why.
I would also like to emphasize that no one ever said that you have to choose just between one or the other. There are lots of ways to combine your knowledge from both fields and experiment with new styles and concepts.
Examples of famous poets in the two
Poetry is one of the most well-known forms of literary expression, with many greats having made significant contributions to the field. Some consider it to be an easy form to begin reading as there are no rules for structure or style, which makes it versatile!
Many people associate poetry only with rhythm, rhyme, and/or meter, but that’s just part of what it is. It can also contain imagery, logical reasoning, and/or allegory, to name a few.
A lot of people refer to poetry as “language done right,” and that couldn’t be more accurate. When writing poems, writers use correct grammar and syntax, so it fits into the language properly. Imaginative and expressive, poetry allows your mind to wander and process thoughts at a steady pace.
Liberal arts majors often study literature, which includes poetry. These students may choose to focus on poetic form, lyrics, or both. Many college students major in liberal arts because they want to learn about different disciplines, such as history, English, and art. Others find value in studying how creative thinking applies to other areas.
Some degree programs require students to take courses in poetry, while others don’t have specific guidelines. Either way, learning how to create and understand poetry is valuable!
Fine artists develop their skills by exploring new mediums and styles, experimenting with colors, shapes, and textures, and combining them all together.
Differences between the two
While both liberal arts and fine art programs typically focus on educating students in several areas, there is an important difference between them.
Liberal arts degrees emphasize education that teaches you to be literate, intelligent, self-aware people. This includes teaching you how to read, write, speak, and understand complex topics and materials.
It also means being educated in many different cultures so that you can learn about good practices and concepts in other religions, philosophies, and ideologies.
Education in this area helps you develop your understanding of the world around you and why things are the way they are.
These are all very valuable lessons.
But it goes beyond just that? Being educated in these areas makes you well-rounded, smart, and aware of what is going on in the world.
It gives you knowledge that can help you make decisions in life!
Fine art does not necessarily go as far as educating students in how to be more socially conscious or educate themselves about various issues but it does teach you to create artistic expressions and materialistic pieces that convey strong messages or stories.
These often include themes such as humanity’s struggle towards perfection, hope for a better future, or inspiration to keep working hard.