The Nine Arts
The “acclaimed” arts are 9, of which 7 have a thousand-year history … Music, Poetry, Painting, Sculpture, Dance, Theater and Architecture.
The oldest are Music and Poetry. From ancient days people started to express the emotions of reading, the way they feel them. The 2 most recent, Cinema and Comics, are a kind homage of the 20th century. Is there a way to determine which art is the highest? Yes, the criterion to use should be the evocative force and the space for the imagination that makes the observer participate and not just a supine spectator.
1) The Music
According to this principle, music is the first classified, the most ethereal, the one that imposes less superstructures on its user. Whoever listens to a piece of music allows his imagination to be stimulated and his emotions stimulated by the sequence of notes. There are no images or words that, like a mandatory stamp, are imprinted on the mind; only free thoughts which, according to everyone’s predisposition, are created instantly and shaped by the folds that the melody takes.
Second classified for merits of less encumbrance of superstructures compared to the following seven, but certainly heavier compared to music. Poetry, even if it does not introduce the actual visual element, corrupts the listener by imposing the spoken language on him. That is, a sequence of words – those and no others – that convey a state of mind from the poet to his reader. Nowadays who really has the sensitivity to read a poem? The Poetry Foundation will give you a lot of answers and a lot more questions will come in mind.
Nevertheless, reading is fast, quantitative, little inclined to the introspection of the writer and, in an unconscious way, of oneself (the readers). It is an art to be re-evaluated and, at the same time, to relearn to use it with forgotten tools such as calm, concentration, silence and a mind free from oppressive thoughts.
3) The Painting
Painting, a good third, provides the observer with a fixed scenario, an image which, however cryptic, lively, or sparse, almost poor in visual stimuli, is nevertheless still capable of making people reflect. It makes us reflect in a less autonomous way than music and poetry, where the scenarios are created by the observer and the creator of the work only thinks of evoking them – even if those conceived by both could be very far away.
The mode of fruition of the pictorial work is even faster than the poem; the instinctive observer just needs a very quick glance to capture the beauty, the unseen, the thrill of visual pleasure that often coincides with a sensual figure: why not?
Many painters, even in their most unsuspected canvases, they pour out an erotic tension that does not escape the observer. And like sensuality, other moods, emotions and thoughts, more or less intelligible, are there waiting to stimulate and infect the viewer.
Compared to poetry, the composition is instead slower; while admitting the execution of casting especially in the drafts, the final creation can take a long time before being completed.
As a classmate of painting, there could only be its three-dimensional version: sculpture. In reality, the material can very strongly evoke feelings, dramas and comedies but, precisely due to the presence of mass and the reduced space it leaves to the imagination of the user compared to the previous three, it is relegated to a lower position. The strength of sculpture also concerns the multiple perspectives from which it can be observed, which make it more multifaceted than music, poetry and painting. Remain of the idea that this multiplying the possibilities of observation makes it even more similar to reality, makes it imitate nature in a more defined way and, returning to the previous refrain, takes away from the viewer the possibility of imagining his own solution to the non seen: all points of observation are within reach of the observer, his imagination is less stimulated.
Referring to its presence in all cultures, as a phenomenon, together with singing, both aggregative and religious, it is certainly a vehicle of emotions. In this context, however, not speaking of collective dances, almost anti-artistic by definition, but of performances by dancers led by a choreographer following a music. These bodies that perform movements in unison, they are an art form and they differ, rising, from subsequent art forms because they do not slavishly imitate facts or situations but mimic them in such a way that the spectator must use his own to draw conclusions of what happens on stage.
Here we are at the outsider, among other things into this risky ranking. Comics is an art form superior to cinema and theater because it proposes a symbiosis between written word and image that leaves the reader’s imagination wide margins of personal inventiveness to recreate in the mind the reference scenario, the psychology of the characters, the references in the plot. The fruition then, as in the reading of a poem, can be modulated according to the desire that one has to steal stimuli from the printed page. Sometimes quotations, references, “simple” virtuosities (literary but, above all, graphics) can only be appreciated through a congenial reading rhythm.
Perhaps the seventh place is unfair for the theater that requires a lot of commitment and dedication to those who practice it, it also gives joy and strong sensations to those who are spectators. But a theatrical performance is always a performance in itself, unique and not replicable (although the companies perform the same show even for years). A play does not have an absolute value, so every time you want to try again the emotions of a show you’ve already seen, you just need to check that it is set up again this year. This is because even Shakespeare, in the hands of shoddy actors or questionable direction, could lose its reach. That said you’ve never seen bad shows but, if you don’t want to separate the theatrical text (which would otherwise fall into poetry or literature) from the quality of the acting, you would have a hard time determining which work you liked best. This consideration could also apply to dance, if I had attended the right number of ballets.
Cinema is the cross and delight of our age. Cross because it is often a topic of conversation as if it were more important to comment on the last film rather than the last novel read. Even, some “penultimate” film seen (retrieved from the past) which, in terms of depth, would be more deserving of deepening. Delightful, at the same time, because films are an easy-to-eat form of entertainment (television series could also fall into the category, why not).
Unfortunately it is precisely this nature of consumer entertainment, rather than an art form, that dwarfs them in the rankings. A film presents its viewer with two pre-packaged hours of sounds, images, plots. In this vortex of sensations there is little room for the viewer’s individual elaboration.
Many palaces, both residential and non-residential construction works, are real pleasures to the eye; sometimes the spirit also benefits, when there is harmony with the surrounding environment (especially if this environment is challenging, such as natural landscapes or buildings from past eras). Yet the fact of having a function (letting people live, hosting offices, exhibiting works of art, gathering fans of various sports, celebrating worship ceremonies), places architecture in a different category compared to the previous eight artistic expressions.
The precedents do not play a necessary role in society, they are simply useless (if the measure of profit is its contribution to human survival or to the provision of services to human society). This is why the last place, as if the daring to combine usefulness and aesthetics, social function and beauty were an offense; almost a betrayal with respect to the very idea of art, understood as a spiritual elevation with respect to the prosaic daily tasks.