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The Arts Portal


An artist's palette

An artist's palette


The arts refers to the theory and physical expression of creativity found in human cultures and societies. Major constituents of the arts include visual arts (including architecture, ceramics, drawing, filmmaking, painting, photography, and sculpting), literature (including fiction, drama, poetry, and prose), and performing arts (including dance, music, and theatre).

Some art forms combine a visual element with performance (e.g. cinematography), or artwork with the written word (e.g. comics). From prehistoric cave paintings to modern-day films, art serves as a vessel for storytelling and conveying humankind's relationship with the environment.

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The libretto for Rinaldo
Rinaldo is an opera by George Frideric Handel composed in 1711, and was the first Italian language opera written specifically for the London stage. The libretto was prepared by Giacomo Rossi from a scenario provided by Aaron Hill, and the work was first performed at the Queen's Theatre in London's Haymarket on 24 February 1711.

The story of love, battle and redemption set at the time of the First Crusade is loosely based on Torquato Tasso's epic poem Gerusalemme liberata ("Jerusalem Delivered"), and its staging involved many original and vivid effects.

The opera was a great success with the public, despite negative reactions from literary critics hostile to the contemporary trend towards Italian entertainment in English theatres. Rinaldo was the most frequently performed of all Handel's musical dramas during his lifetime. However, after 1731 the opera was not staged for more than 200 years.

Following a successful run at New York's Metropolitan Opera in 1984, performances and recordings of the work have become more frequent worldwide. Despite the lack of a standard edition, with its spectacular vocal and orchestral passages Rinaldo has been cited as one of Handel's greatest operas. Of its individual numbers the soprano aria "Lascia ch'io pianga" has become a particular favourite and is a popular concert piece.

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Ancient Mexican calendarCredit: Artist: A. de Leon y Gama; Restoration: Garrondo/Lise Broer

An illustration depicting an ancient Mexican calendar. The Maya and Aztec calendars are the most familiar of the Mexican calendars, but similar ones were used by other cultures. Common to all Mesoamerican cultures was the 260-day ritual calendar that had no confirmed correlation to astronomical or agricultural cycles. These were used in combination with a separate 365-day calendar to create a 52-year cycle known as a calendar round.

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El Greco: Self portrait (1604)
El Greco was a prominent painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance.

El Greco was born in Crete, which was at that time part of the Republic of Venice, and when he was 26 travelled to Venice to study. In 1570 he moved to Rome, where he opened a workshop and executed a series of works. During his stay in Italy, El Greco enriched his style with elements of Mannerism and of the Venetian Renaissance. In 1577, he emigrated to Toledo, Spain, where he lived and worked until his death. In Toledo, El Greco received several major commissions and produced his best known paintings.

El Greco's dramatic and expressionistic style was met with puzzlement by his contemporaries but found appreciation in the 20th century. El Greco is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism, while his personality and works were a source of inspiration for poets and writers such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis. El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school. He is best known for tortuously elongated figures and often fantastic or phantasmagorical pigmentation, marrying Byzantine traditions with those of Western civilization.

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