The Difference Between Arts, Culture & Fine Arts


The definitions of arts, culture and fine art often overlap as all three are concerned with human expression. For example, paintings and sculptures are products of art, culture and fine art. All three are fields of study, research and debate in the humanities facilities of tertiary education, and determining their distinctive differences can be difficult.


  • Art is defined by the "Merriam-Webster Dictionary" in several ways. It is a "skill acquired by experience, study, or observation," such as the art of communication, or as "the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects," as well as the works produced thereby. Arts, in its plural form, usually refers to the study of literature, film, communication, history, anthropology and philosophy in universities and colleges. Colloquially, it is also known as liberal arts.


  • Culture, according to the "Merriam-Webster Dictionary," is "the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group." Cultures can differ drastically between countries, within countries and even between individual families. These differences of practice and values upheld can lead to conflict and disagreements. Culture can also refer to the "acquaintance with and taste in fine arts, humanities, and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills."

Fine Arts

  • The "Merriam-Webster Dictionary" defines fine art as "art (painting, sculpture, or music) concerned primarily with the creation of beautiful objects." It can also be used to describe an activity requiring specialized skill, such as "the fine art of gourmet cooking." Similarly to arts, fine arts, in it's plural form, usually refers to the department within a tertiary institution preoccupied with the study, research, manufacture and analysis of the products of fine art.

Differences Between Arts, Culture and Fine Arts

  • Art and fine art have become synonymous, though art has a broader range. Video games, graphic novels and films are considered forms of art, though not fine art. Art and fine art is produced within the culture of a particular group and often reflects aspects of its subscribed customs and beliefs. Different cultures will produce different pieces of art. Within tertiary education, all three fall under the humanities banner, though each focus on a different form of human expression.

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