Theme (arts)  

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Love and death are two recurring themes in art and literary history Illustration: El amor y la muerte (English: Love and Death) is plate 10 from the Caprichos by Francisco Goya.
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Love and death are two recurring themes in art and literary history
Illustration: El amor y la muerte (English: Love and Death) is plate 10 from the Caprichos by Francisco Goya.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In the visual arts, a theme is a broad idea or a message conveyed by work done in a visual experience, such as a performance, a painting, or a motion picture. This message is usually about life, society or human nature. Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a work. Themes are usually implied rather than explicitly stated. Deep thematic content is not required in a visual work; however, some observers would say that all visual work inherently projects some kind of outlook on life that can be taken as a theme, regardless of whether or not this is the intent of the author.

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Difference from subject matter

A theme is not the same as the subject matter of a work. For example, the subject of Star Wars is "the battle for control of the galaxy between Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance". The themes explored in the movies might be "moral ambiguity" or "the conflict between technology and nature".

Difference from motif

Themes differ from motifs in that themes are ideas conveyed by the visual experience as a whole, while motifs are repeated symbols found inside an over-arching theme. Simply having repeated symbolism related to chess, does not make the story's theme the similarity of life to chess. Themes arise from the interplay of the plot, the characters, and the attitude the author takes to them, and the same story can be given very different themes in the hands of different authors.

The term theme may be used in the same way to refer to works of literature.

Examples of themes in art

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Theme (arts)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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