The decorative arts are arts or crafts whose object is the design and manufacture of objects that are both beautiful and functional. It includes interior design, but not usually architecture. The decorative arts are often categorized in distinction to the "fine arts", namely painting, drawing, photography, and large-scale sculpture, which generally produce objects solely for their aesthetic quality and capacity to stimulate the intellect.
The distinction between the decorative and fine arts essentially arose from the post-Renaissance art of the West, where the distinction is for the most part meaningful. This distinction is much less meaningful when considering the art of other cultures and periods, where the most valued works, or even all works, include those in decorative media. For example, Islamic art in many periods and places consists entirely of the decorative arts, often using geometric and plant forms, as does the art of many traditional cultures. The distinction between decorative and fine arts is not very useful for appreciating Chinese art, and neither is it for understanding Early Medieval art in Europe. In that period in Europe, fine arts such as manuscript illumination and monumental sculpture existed, but the most prestigious works tended to be in goldsmith work, in cast metals such as bronze, or in other techniques such as ivory carving. Large-scale wall-paintings were much less regarded, crudely executed, and rarely mentioned in contemporary sources. They were probably seen as an inferior substitute for mosaic, which for the period must be considered a fine art, though in recent centuries mosaics have tended to be considered decorative. The term "ars sacra" ("sacred arts") is sometimes used for medieval Christian art executed in metal, ivory, textiles, and other more valuable materials but not for rarer secular works from that period.
Modern understanding of the art of many cultures tends to be distorted by the modern privileging of fine art media over others, as well as the very different survival rates of works in different media. Works in metal, above all in precious metals, are liable to be "recycled" as soon as they fall from fashion, and were often used by owners as repositories of wealth, to be melted down when extra money was needed. Illuminated manuscripts have a much higher survival rate, especially in the hands of the church, as there was little value in the materials and they were easy to store.
The promotion of the fine arts over the decorative in European thought can largely be traced to the Renaissance, when Italian theorists such as Vasari promoted artistic values, exemplified by the artists of the High Renaissance, that placed little value on the cost of materials or the amount of skilled work required to produce a work, but instead valued artistic imagination and the individual touch of the hand of a supremely gifted master such as Michelangelo, Raphael or Leonardo da Vinci, reviving to some extent the approach of antiquity. Most European art during the Middle Ages had been produced under a very different set of values, where both expensive materials and virtuoso displays in difficult techniques had been highly valued. In China both approaches had co-existed for many centuries: ink and wash painting, mostly of landscapes, was to a large extent produced by and for the scholar-bureaucrats or "literati", and was intended as an expression of the artist's imagination above all, while other major fields of art, including the very important Chinese ceramics produced in effectively industrial conditions, were produced according to a completely different set of artistic values.
The lower status given to works of decorative art in contrast to fine art narrowed with the rise of the Arts and Crafts movement. This aesthetic movement of the second half of the 19th century was born in England and inspired by William Morris and John Ruskin. The movement represented the beginning of a greater appreciation of the decorative arts throughout Europe. The appeal of the Arts and Crafts movement to a new generation led the English architect and designer Arthur H. Mackmurdo to organize the Century Guild for craftsmen in 1882, championing the idea that there was no meaningful difference between the fine and decorative arts. Many converts, both from professional artists' ranks and from among the intellectual class as a whole, helped spread the ideas of the movement.
The influence of the Arts and Crafts movement led to the decorative arts being given a greater appreciation and status in society and this was soon reflected by changes in the law. Until the enactment of the Copyright Act 1911 only works of fine art had been protected from unauthorised copying. The 1911 Act extended the definition of an "artistic work" to include works of "artistic craftsmanship".
In the context of mass production and consumerism some individuals will attempt to create or maintain their lifestyle or to construct their identity when forced to accept mass produced identical objects in their life. According to Campbell in his piece “The Craft Consumer” , this is done by selecting goods with specific intentions in mind to alter them. Instead of accepting a foreign object for what it is, the foreign object is incorporated and changed to fit one's lifestyle and choices, or customized.
One way to achieve a customized look and feel to common objects is to change their external appearance by applying decorative techniques, as in decoupage, art cars, truck art in South Asia and IKEA hacking.
The American Craftsman style, or the American Arts and Crafts movement, is an American domestic architectural, interior design, landscape design, applied arts, and decorative arts style and lifestyle philosophy that began in the last years of the 19th century. As a comprehensive design and art movement, it remained popular into the 1930s. However, in decorative arts and architectural design, it has continued with numerous revivals and restoration projects through present times.Applied arts
The applied arts are all the arts that apply design and decoration to everyday objects in order to make them aesthetically pleasing. The term is used in distinction to the fine arts that produce objects solely to be beautiful or stimulate the intellect. In practice, the two often overlap.
Example of applied arts are:
The fashion industry
Paper marbling applied to books
Pottery decorationBirmingham Museum of Art
Founded in 1951, the Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham, Alabama, today has one of the finest collections in the Southeastern United States, with more than 24,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and decorative arts representing a numerous diverse cultures, including Asian, European, American, African, Pre-Columbian, and Native American. Among other highlights, the Museum’s collection of Asian art is considered the finest and most comprehensive in the Southeast, and its Vietnamese ceramics one of the finest in the U.S. The Museum also is home to a remarkable Kress Collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts from the late 13th century to c.1750, and the 18th-century European decorative arts include superior examples of English ceramics and French furniture.
The Birmingham Museum of Art is owned by the City of Birmingham and encompasses 3.9 acres (16,000 m2) in the heart of the city’s cultural district. Erected in 1959, the present building was designed by architects Warren, Knight and Davis, and a major renovation and expansion by Edward Larrabee Barnes of New York was completed in 1993. The facility encompasses 180,000 square feet (17,000 m2), including an outdoor sculpture garden.Cast paper
Cast Paper is a paper crafting technique in which paper fiber or pulp, such as cotton fiber paper, is formed using a mold. The pulp may consist of pure fiber, or be an amalgam of fiber, binder, and filler, such as Papier-mâché. The technique is employed for in-the-round sculpture as well as bas-relief.Certosina
Certosina is a decorative art technique used widely in the Italian Renaissance period. Similar to marquetry, it uses small pieces of wood, bone, metal, or mother-of-pearl to create inlaid geometric patterns on wood. The term comes from Certosa Church in Pavia, where the technique was used in ornamenting an altarpiece.Chip carving
Chip carving or chip-carving, kerbschnitt in German, is a style of carving in which knives or chisels are used to remove small chips of the material from a flat surface in a single piece. The style became important in Migration Period metalwork, mainly animal style jewellery, where the faceted surfaces created caught the light to give a glinting appearance. This was very probably a transfer to metalworking of a technique already used in woodcarving, but no wooden examples have survived. Famous Anglo-Saxon examples include the jewellery from Sutton Hoo and the Tassilo Chalice, though the style originated in mainland Europe. In later British and Irish metalwork, the same style was imitated using casting, which is often called imitation chip-carving, or sometimes just chip carving (authors are not always careful to distinguish the two), a term also sometimes applied to pottery decorated in a similar way.Embellishment
In sewing and crafts, an embellishment is anything that adds design interest to the piece.Empire style
The Empire style (French pronunciation: [ɑ̃.piːʁ], style Empire) is an early-nineteenth-century design movement in architecture, furniture, other decorative arts, and the visual arts, representing the second phase of Neoclassicism. It flourished between 1800 and 1815 during the Consulate and the First French Empire periods, although its life span lasted until the late-1820s. From France it spread into much of Europe and the United States.
The style originated in and takes its name from the rule of the Emperor Napoleon I in the First French Empire, when it was intended to idealize Napoleon's leadership and the French state. The previous fashionable style in France had been the Directoire style, a more austere and minimalist form of Neoclassicism, that replaced the Louis XVI style. The Empire style brought a full return to ostentatious richness. The style corresponds somewhat to the Biedermeier style in the German-speaking lands, Federal style in the United States, and the Regency style in Britain.International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts
The International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts (French: Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes) was a World's fair held in Paris, France, from April to October 1925. It was designed by the French government to highlight the new style moderne of architecture, interior decoration, furniture, glass, jewelry and other decorative arts in Europe and throughout the world. Many ideas of the international avant-garde in the fields of architecture and applied arts were presented for the first time at the Exposition. The event took place between the esplanade of Les Invalides and the entrances of the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, and on both banks of the Seine. There were 15,000 exhibitors from twenty different countries, and it was visited by sixteen million people during its seven-month run. The Style Moderne presented at the Exposition later became known as "Art Deco", after the name of the Exposition.Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin
The Kunstgewerbemuseum, or Museum of Decorative Arts, is an internationally important museum of the decorative arts in Berlin, Germany, part of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Berlin State Museums). The collection is split between the Kunstgewerbemuseum building at the Kulturforum (52.5097°N 13.3674°E / 52.5097; 13.3674 (Kunstgewerbemuseum, Kulturforum)) and Köpenick Palace (52.4439°N 13.5728°E / 52.4439; 13.5728 (Kunstgewerbemuseum, Schloss Köpenick)).Motif (visual arts)
In art and iconography, a motif (pronunciation) is an element of an image. A motif may be repeated in a pattern or design, often many times, or may just occur once in a work.Museum of Applied Arts (Budapest)
The Museum of Applied Arts (Hungarian: Iparművészeti Múzeum) is a museum in Budapest, Hungary. It is the third-oldest applied arts museum in the world.Museum of Decorative Arts, Havana
The Museum of Decorative Arts (Spanish: Museo de Artes Decorativas), at 17th and E streets in the Vedado district of Havana, Cuba is a decorative arts museum in the former residence of the María Luisa Gómez-Mena viuda de Cagiga, Countess of Revilla de Camargo, sister of José Gómez-Mena Vila, the owner of the Manzana de Gómez. It was designed in Paris by architects P. Virad and M. Destuque, inspired in French Renaissance and was built between 1924 and 1927 in a neo-classical style.Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris
Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Museum of Decorative Arts), a museum of the decorative arts and design, located in the Palais du Louvre's western wing, known as the Pavillon de Marsan, at 107 rue de Rivoli, in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, France. It is one of three museum locations of Les Arts Décoratifs, now collectively referred to as the MAD .
The museum also hosts exhibitions of fashion, advertising and graphic arts from its collections from the formerly separate but now defunct Musée de la Publicité and Musée de la mode et du textile.National Museum of Decorative Arts, Buenos Aires
The National Museum of Decorative Arts is an art museum in Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina.Rosette (design)
A rosette is a round, stylized flower design.Tortoiseshell
Tortoiseshell or tortoise shell is a material produced from the shells of the larger species of tortoise and turtle, mainly the hawksbill sea turtle, which is an endangered species largely because of its exploitation for the material. The large size, fine colour and unusual form of the hawksbill's scutes make it especially suitable. The distinctive patterning is referred to in names such as the tortoiseshell cat, several breeds of guinea pig, and the common names of several species of the butterfly genera Nymphalis and Aglais, and some other uses.Victorian decorative arts
Victorian decorative arts refers to the style of decorative arts during the Victorian era. Victorian design is widely viewed as having indulged in a grand excess of ornament. The Victorian era is known for its interpretation and eclectic revival of historic styles mixed with the introduction of middle east and Asian influences in furniture, fittings, and interior decoration. The Arts and Crafts movement, the aesthetic movement, Anglo-Japanese style, and Art Nouveau style have their beginnings in the late Victorian era and gothic period.Whittling
Whittling may refer either to the art of carving shapes out of raw wood using a knife or a time-occupying, non-artistic (contrast wood carving for artistic process) process of repeatedly shaving slivers from a piece of wood.
Decorative arts and handicrafts