Difference Between Fine Arts and Visual Arts

Fine Arts vs Visual Arts

Art is a generic word that encompasses lots of activities and creations. Right from the time when man lived in caves and hunted animals, mankind has engaged in artistic activities such as painting, drawing, sculpting, tattooing, and so on. We think of art as a man sketching something with pencil on paper, an artist creating a painting, or someone singing or dancing. However, art is not limited to these activities that may be visually appealing. There is a distinction made between fine arts and visual arts that is confusing for many. Fine art is an artistic activity that is undertaken for the love and beauty of the activity itself rather than for the functional value of the activity. In modern times, this way of categorizing art form seems inappropriate, and the division between fine arts and visual arts becomes thin and blurred.

Fine Arts

The definition of fine arts describes fine art or fine arts as activities that are undertaken mainly for the love of nature and to derive aesthetic pleasure. Art for the sake of art and not money is the basic principle behind the concept of fine arts and these art forms are undertaken for the love and joy they give to the practitioner and not because they make him earn money. The concept has been derived from drawing and designing, and the art forms of painting, drawing, sculpting, printmaking etc. fit easily in this category.

During the 17th century, there was a line of thinking that art was for enjoyment and for creative pleasure and this thinking led to the development of the phrase fine art that means an art form that’s pleasing to senses. This meant that music, drama, opera, drawing, painting, literature, architecture, and sculpting were classified as fine arts.

Fine arts was sought to be categorized into visual arts, auditory arts, and performance arts during the 20th century.

Visual Arts

As the name implies, visual art is anything or a creation of art that we can see with our eyes. Primarily, painting and drawing happen to be the best examples of visual arts though there are also sculpting, architecture, photography, movies, and even printmaking as visual art forms. However, there are many performing arts with visual aspects and hence it is difficult to strictly keep them away from the category of visual arts. There are art forms like ceramics, pottery making, crafting of metals, jewelry designing, woodwork, furniture making, etc. that also have become important visual art forms.

Fine Arts vs Visual Arts

With passage of time and the advent of computers, much of the earlier thinking and concepts has been forced to change. ‘Fine arts’ was a concept that was introduced to differentiate between art forms that were useful and those that were only pleasing to the senses. Any activity that was undertaken for the joy and pleasure it gave and was aesthetically pleasing was considered fine art to differentiate it from art forms that were useful to mankind. Fine arts thus lost sciences and included music, opera, literature, drama etc. as these art forms were considered to bring pleasure to our senses. On the other hand, visual art was a category that was reserved for all art forms that we could see such as drawing, painting, sculpting, photography, filmmaking, metal crafting, ceramics, and so on.

In today’s time, it is difficult to conceive of an art form as merely visual or fine, and there is much overlapping to confuse people. The concepts of beauty and aesthetics do not apply exclusively to fine arts and art forms included in visual arts are not the only ones that are visual in nature.