Art is a term that describes a diverse range of human activities and the products of those activities, but here refers to the visual arts, which cover the creation of images or objects in fields including painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and other visual media. Architecture is often included as one of the visual arts; however, like the decorative arts, it creates objects where the practical considerations of use are essential—in a way that they are usually not for a painting, for example. Music, theatre, film, dance, and other performing arts, as well as literature, and other media such as interactive media are included in a broader definition of art or the arts. Until the 17th century, art referred to any skill or mastery and was not differentiated from crafts or sciences, but in modern usage the fine arts, where aesthetic considerations are paramount, are distinguished from acquired skills in general, and the decorative or applied arts.
Many definitions of art have been proposed by philosophers and others who have characterized art in terms of mimesis, expression, communication of emotion, or other values. During the Romantic period, art came to be seen as “a special faculty of the human mind to be classified with religion and science”. Though art’s definition is disputed and has changed over time, general descriptions mention an idea of human agency and creation through imaginative or technical skill.
The nature of art, and related concepts such as creativity and interpretation, are explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics.