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Self-Portrait at the Age of Twenty (1885) by Félix Vallotton
Self-Portrait at the Age of Twenty (1885) by Félix Vallotton

""Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?" (1989) was an awareness campaign by the American feminist group the Guerrilla Girls; who, after counting all male artists, female artists, male nudes and female nudes at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, condemned the limited number of female artists found in that institute."--Sholem Stein


15th century: Hieronymus Bosch, Piero di Cosimo, Matthias Grünewald

16th century: Giulio Romano, Cornelis Floris de Vriendt, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Juan Sánchez Cotán, Jacques Callot

17th century: Giovanni Battista Braccelli, Salvator Rosa

18th century: Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Étienne-Louis Boullée, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, Henry Fuseli, Francisco Goya, Jean-Jacques Lequeu, Caspar David Friedrich, Théodore Géricault, Rodolphe Töpffer

19th century: Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard Grandville, Samuel Palmer, Eugène Lepoittevin, Honoré Daumier, Gustave Courbet, Charles Méryon, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Arnold Böcklin, Gustave Doré, Félicien Rops, Ernst Haeckel, Odilon Redon, Gabriel von Max, Antoni Gaudí, José Guadalupe Posada, Vincent van Gogh, Félix Vallotton, Alfred Kubin, Max Beckmann, Marcel Duchamp, Giorgio de Chirico, Otto Dix, George Grosz

20th century: Hans Bellmer, Salvador Dalí, Carlo Mollino, Francis Bacon, Fornasetti, Enrico Baj, René Laloux, Roman Cieślewicz, Jan Švankmajer, Paula Rego, Roland Topor, Joel-Peter Witkin, Vito Acconci, Wim T. Schippers, Glen Baxter, Paul McCarthy, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Ron Mueck, Luigi Serafini, Andres Serrano, Tanino Liberatore, Robert Gober, Andy Goldsworthy, Paul Rumsey, Thomas Hirschhorn, Trevor Brown, Maurizio Cattelan, Jake and Dinos Chapman, John Currin, Banksy

The Poor Poet (1839) is a painting by Carl Spitzweg
The Poor Poet (1839) is a painting by Carl Spitzweg

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The definition of an artist is wide-ranging and covers a broad spectrum of activities to do with creating art, practicing the arts and/or demonstrating an art. Debate, both historical and present day, suggests that defining the concept of an artist will continue to be difficult.


History of the term

Although the Greek word "techně" is often mistranslated as "art," it actually implies mastery of any sort of craft. The Latin-derived form of the word is "tecnicus", from which the English words technique, technology, technical are derived.

In Greek culture each of the nine Muses oversaw a different field of human creation:

No muse was identified with the visual arts of painting and sculpture. In ancient Greece sculptors and painters were held in low regard, somewhere between freemen and slaves, their work regarded as mere manual labour.

The word art is derived from the Latin "ars", which, although literally defined means, "skill method" or "technique", holds a connotation of beauty.

During the Middle Ages the word artist already existed in some countries such as Italy, but the meaning was something resembling craftsman, while the word artesan was still unknown. An artist was someone able to do a work better than others, so the skilled excellency was underlined, rather than the activity field. In this period some "artisanal" products (such as textiles) were much more precious and expensive than paintings or sculptures.

The first division into major and minor arts dates back to Leon Battista Alberti's works (De re aedificatoria, De statua, De pictura), focusing the importance of intellectual skills of the artist rather than the manual skills (even if in other forms of art there was a project behind).

With the Academies in Europe (second half of 16th century) the gap between fine and applied arts was definitely set.

Many contemporary definitions of "artist" and "art" are highly contingent on culture, resisting aesthetic prescription, in much the same way that the features constituting beauty and the beautiful, cannot be standardized easily without corruption into kitsch.

The present day concept of an 'artist'

Artist is a descriptive term applied to a person who engages in an activity deemed to be an art. An artist also may be defined unofficially as "a person who expresses him- or herself through a medium". The word is also used in a qualitative sense of, a person creative in, innovative in, or adept at, an artistic practice.

Most often, the term describes those who create within a context of the fine arts or 'high culture', activities such as drawing, painting, sculpture, acting, dancing, writing, filmmaking, photography, and music—people who use imagination, talent, or skill to create works that may be judged to have an aesthetic value. Art historians and critics define artists as those who produce art within a recognized or recognizable discipline. Contrasting terms for highly-skilled workers in media in the applied arts or decorative arts include artisan, craftsman, and specialized terms such as potter or goldsmith. Fine arts artists such as painters succeeded in the Renaissance in raising their status, formerly similar to these workers, to a decisively higher level, but in the 20th century the distinction became rather less relevant .

The term may be also used loosely or metaphorically to denote highly skilled people in any non-"art" activities, as well— law, medicine, mechanics, or mathematics, for example.

Often, discussions on the subject focus on the differences among "artist" and "technician", "entertainer" and "artisan", "fine art" and "applied art", or what constitutes art and what does not. The French word artiste (which in French, simply means "artist") has been imported into the English language where it means a performer (frequently in Music Hall or Vaudeville). Use of the word "artiste" can also be a pejorative term.

The English word 'artiste' has thus, a narrower range of meaning than the word 'artiste' in French.

Examples of art and artists

See also

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

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