The visual arts are those creations we can look at, such as a drawing or a painting. Here is a partial list: drawing
And the decorative arts of
furniture and interior design
Any one of these disciplines is a type of visual art.
This is the simple explanation. You can stop reading right here, confident that you know what the visual arts are. Or you can keep reading and get a bit of background on that often-abused phrase "The Arts". "The Arts", as a term, has an interesting history. During the Middle Ages, The Arts were very scholarly, limited to seven in number and did not involve creating anything at which people looked. They were: grammar
To further confuse matters, these seven Arts were known as the Fine Arts, in order to distinguish them from the "Useful Arts". Why? Only "fine" people - those who didn't do manual labor - studied them. (Presumably, the Useful Arts people were too busy being useful to have need of an education.) At some point in the ensuing centuries, people realized there was a difference between a science and an art. The phrase Fine Arts came to mean anything that had been created to please the senses. After losing the sciences, the list now included music, dance, opera and literature, as well as what we normally think of as "art": painting, sculpture, architecture and the decorative arts. (By the way, I have no idea whatever happened to the "Useful Arts", but can only hope that phrase was beaten to death by manual laborers who were annoyed by the "fine" snub.) That list of Fine Arts got a little long, didn't it? Apparently others thought so, too, because during the 20th-century we started to split the Fine Arts up into Visual Arts (painting, sculpture, etc.), Auditory Arts (music, drama, spoken literature)...
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