Artist PNG Transparent Images

Submitted by on Aug 19, 2021

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An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating art. The common usage in everyday speech and academic discourse refers to a practitioner in the visual arts only. However, the term is also often used in entertainment, especially in a business context, for musicians and other performers (although less often for actors). “Artiste” (French for artist) is a variant used in English in this context, but this use has become rare. The term “artist” to describe writers is valid but less common and mostly restricted to contexts used in criticism.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the older broad meanings of the term “artist”:

  • A learned person or Master of Art’s
  • One who pursues a practical science, traditionally medicine, astrology, alchemy, chemistry
  • A follower of a pursuit in which skill comes by study or practice
  • A follower of a manual art, such as a mechanic
  • One who makes their craft a fine art
  • One who cultivates one of the fine arts – traditionally, the arts presided over by the muses.

The Greek word “techně,” often translated as “art,” implies mastery of any craft. The adjectival Latin form of the word, “technicus”, became the source of the English words technique, technology, technical.

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

  • Calliope (the ‘beautiful of speech’): chief of the muses and muse of epic or heroic poetry
  • Clio (the ‘glorious one’): muse of history
  • Erato (the ‘amorous one’): muse of love or erotic poetry, lyrics, and marriage songs
  • Euterpe (the ‘well-pleasing’): muse of music and lyric poetry
  • Melpomene (the ‘chanting one’): muse of tragedy
  • Polyhymnia or Polymnia (the ‘ of many hymns’): muse of sacred song, oratory, lyric, singing, and rhetoric
  • Terpsichore (the ‘ delights in dance’): muse of choral song and dance
  • Thalia (the ‘blossoming one’): muse of comedy and bucolic poetry
  • Urania (the ‘celestial one’): muse of astronomy

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 labor.


The word art derives from the Latin “ars” (stem art-), which, although defined means “skill method” or “technique,” also conveys a connotation of beauty.

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

The first division into major and minor arts dates back at least to the works of Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472): De re aedificatoria, De statua, De pictura, which focused on the importance of the intellectual skills of the artist rather than the manual skills (even if in other forms of art there was a project behind).

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

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 moving into kitsch.

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