Fine Arts

Authored by: Walter B. Denny


Print publication date:  June  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415558174
eBook ISBN: 9780203118399
Adobe ISBN: 9781136309649


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The concept of fine arts—in Latin, artes elegantes—is a venerable one, codified in sixteenth-century Italy by Giorgio Vasari, who, in his Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, gave form to the idea that three media (painting, sculpture, and architecture) occupied a superior status among the visual arts; other media (such as weaving, ceramics, metalware, furniture, interior decoration, and carving in precious materials), were assumed to possess inferior status, and were described as “minor arts” or “decorative arts.” This definition, for centuries essentially unchallenged in European culture, concerns us at the outset because the traditional Islamic art forms practiced in Ottoman Turkey, with the exception of architecture, were by Vasari’s definition almost entirely included under the “minor arts” heading. The modern Turkish term güzel sanatlar, essentially a borrowing of the French beaux-arts, has thus under the Republic assumed a close association with progress and modernity; the Turkish terms çag

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