Art Types Uncovered: A Comprehensive Guide to Artistry

Art has been around since the dawn of time, and we’ve always been drawn to create art in various forms. But there is also a lively debate about what exactly can be defined as art

In this guide, I’ll explain the seven forms of artistic expression. These are all commonly accepted as the most well-known art forms. 

What is Art? (A Definition)

Art is a tricky thing to define. Just like beauty, art is in the eye of the beholder. What looks like art to one person might be meaningless to someone else. So, there isn’t one clear definition of what art is.

Humans have discussed and debated art as a concept for centuries. A common understanding is that art is something created through skill or imagination. And often, it aspires to be an object of beauty. 

But a piece of art doesn’t have to be beautiful to be classified as art. Art can also convey a message or provoke a reaction in the viewer. 

And there’s more to art than the visual forms of art that first come to mind. So, let’s take a closer look at the various types of art expression. 

What are the 7 Different Forms of Art?

Seven main forms of art are accepted across the world. Each art form has been around for centuries, if not millennia. 

There is evidence that humans have participated in these art forms as far back as human history. So, let’s learn more about the different art forms below. 


different types of art

Paintings are the most common and well-known of all the art forms. In fact, children often start painting as soon as they can hold a paintbrush. It’s an accessible type of art for almost anyone. But becoming a talented artist also requires a lot of skill, patience, and creativity. 

In this art form, artists use paint on canvas, paper, or other materials to create a piece of art. However, there are many different painting styles, depending on the type of paint you use. You can choose from watercolors, acrylic, and oil paints. Each type of paint will create a unique look and requires specific techniques to get the most out of it. 

If you want to learn more about painting, you can look at works by the great masters. Picasso, Monet, Kahlo, and Van Gogh are just a few names to get you started. 

As you develop your painting skills, you can attempt to recreate their artworks. But you should also make sure to develop your own art style so that your paintings stand out. 

There are also many different art movements and painting styles. These range from classical to cubist, surreal to impressionist. Painting offers limitless possibilities for what you can create, so why not try it?


types of art

Sculpture is an ancient art form dating from the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians. But there is also evidence of sculptures much further back in history. 

Unlike paintings, sculptures are 3D visual artworks. They’re made by chipping and shaping materials like stone, clay, wood, or metal. 

Michelangelo was one of the most well-known sculptors of the Italian Renaissance. Today, tourists still flock to Florence worldwide to see the famous statue of David. 

Sculptures are often seen in public spaces like government buildings, churches, and cathedrals. These artworks are often large, so they’re not so common in the home. But in the past, wealthy families commissioned sculptures from the most talented artists. 

But sculpture is an art form that is alive and well today. Many modern sculptors are creating their own twist on this art form. They are experimenting with new shapes, techniques, and even new materials like plastic. 

Sculpture isn’t the easiest art form to learn. First, you’ll need plenty of materials, such as materials to work with and tools to use. But you’ll also need expert training and guidance to learn the trade skills.


different kinds of art

Architecture has been around as long as buildings have been around. It’s the art and science of creating not only functional but also beautiful buildings. 

Some key examples include amazing buildings like the Taj Mahal in India and the Coliseum in Rome. And even earlier, you have the pyramids built in Egypt and Mexico. These buildings were huge undertakings that required knowledge, skill, and imagination.

There have been many different movements across the ages. Some of the most well-known include Classical, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. But then you also have Neoclassical, Bauhaus, and Modern architecture. 

Each movement has its own distinctive styles, forms, and use of color. These make the buildings easily recognizable. Anyone who wants to become an architect has a rich history to delve into and learn from. 


what are the 7 different forms of art

We’ve all come across literature in one way or another. You likely studied literature in school. It’s a written art form that uses carefully crafted words to convey a message. 

Words themselves can be beautiful when composed with skill and talent. Literature includes many sub-forms, such as poetry, essays, novels, short stories, and non-fiction. (Here are my recommendations for the best non-fiction books for artists). 

We can learn a lot by studying the greats, such as the master playwright Shakespeare. There are many reasons why we often return to classics by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. 

And the myths of Ancient Greece and Rome have permeated our culture. You’ll often find them referenced in popular culture, from movies to sitcoms. 

Many writers state that the first step to becoming a writer is reading widely. You can also start keeping a journal and make it a habit to write in it every day. In this way, you’ll develop your observational and writing skills. 


what are the 7 different forms of art

Almost everyone is drawn to music in some form or another. And many of us aspire to become musicians or singers, creating our own music for others to enjoy. 

Even if you’re not a musician, you can appreciate music as an art form. Music organizes sounds into a composition that is attractive to the ear. 

But as with any other type of art, there are endless types of music. You can probably think of everything from classical music to pop, rock, and more.

There’s evidence that we’ve been creating music as far back as history. Basic instruments date back thousands of years. And you can find some form of singing in almost every culture around the world. 

It’s instinctive to create music with the human voice. Even the youngest children enjoy lullabies and start making their own music as soon as possible. 

Many musicians are self-taught through a combination of innate talent and determined motivation. But there’s a lot to learn when it comes to music. 

For example, you’ll need to be able to read music to play an instrument. And there are many different elements to master, from rhythm to harmony and melody. 


what are the different types of art

Theater predates cinema and differs from it as it involves live performers. This performance art isn’t new – it’s been around for centuries and even millennia. We have plenty of evidence of theater performed in ancient China, Greece, Rome, and Egypt. 

As humans, we love storytelling and entertainment. Theater combines both aspects in a communal experience we can go through together. 

In Shakespeare’s era, theater was affordable and a common form of entertainment. Theatergoers would often heckle and interact with the actors (then called “players”)

Through visual props, music, storytelling, and acting, theater can be a transformative experience. It can take you anywhere in the world and put you in another’s shoes.

There are many forms of theater, from plays to dance shows, circuses, and puppet shows. Plays can range from comedies to tragedies and everything in between. 


types of art expression

Cinema is the newest art form on this list, and it has both similarities and differences with theater. Cinema only became possible after the first movie camera was invented in the 1880s. But it wasn’t until the early 1900s that movies became more mainstream.

As you can imagine, cinema has evolved a lot over the years. The first color movies weren’t released until 1909. And initially, all films were silent as the cameras couldn’t capture audio. It was only in the late 1920s that “talkies” became much more common. 

Cinema is an art form, providing a lot of creative and technical potential. First of all, you need a screenplay that will capture the audience’s attention. Then, you decide on the filming process, casting, costumes, and special effects. 

But cinema also shares many of the same elements as other art forms. For example, cinematographers must consider the story, composition, and framing. They need to consider the movie’s use of space, color, and language. 

Cinema has undoubtedly taken a lot of inspiration from the world of theater. But the technical differences set these two art forms apart. And thanks to home streaming services, we can watch the best movies from the comfort of our own homes.

Different Art Forms – FAQ

What are the different types of art?

There are seven main types of art. These include traditional visual art forms such as sculpture and painting. But music, literature, theater, and cinema are also considered types of art. The final art form is architecture. 

What are the different art styles?

Within these art forms, you’ll find different styles or movements. For example, painting is one of the types of art expression. But there are many painting styles, from abstract to expressionist, modernist, and more. 

What is the most common type of art?

Painting is probably the most common type of art. Humans have been painting since prehistoric times, with cave paintings as evidence. 
Painting is one of the most accessible art forms, as you need relatively few supplies. You can get started with a basic and affordable painting set. So, anyone can learn how to draw and paint with a little motivation and dedication. 

the 7 different forms of art

The Wrap Up

There are seven main forms of art expression, each with a rich history. Now, you should have a deeper understanding of the art forms, from sculpture to theater. 

Let me know if you have any questions about these art forms below. And check out my guide to the visual arts for more information on different types of art! 

Make sure to follow Proactive Creative on social media and Pinterest! I’ll keep you up to date on the best content, tips, and reviews for creative professionals. 


Outmane is the founder of Proactive Creative. He is an artist/designer.

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