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Visual, Performing, and Literary/Language Arts

This LibGuide provides an overview of the different kinds of items that might be considered "art" and the theories and criticism that surround this category.


The visual arts can encompass a vast array of different mediums. The term "art" also is a highly subjective word, especially in the age of modern art, and thus can be quite controversial.  In addition, many visual objects can be touched and have a tactile sensation associated with them, as in the case of statues, for example, so they they are not only visual.  What sets the visual arts aside from performing arts, though, is often movement.  The visual arts tend to deal with still objects, like paintings, portraits, graffiti, still advertisements, statues, installations (which tend to be stationary or have moving parts, but generally stay in one locale while on display), and so forth.  This lack of movement on the whole will be used to separate the visual from performing arts.  That is not to say that artists have not had presentations that include movement, as they can and do, but the artistic message is generally the drive behind the movement rather than necessarily the focus being on the performative aspects themselves, like those that one finds in fields such as acting.  There are exceptions to this, and there are mediums that do cross boundaries, but for the purposes of this guide, movement and performance will separate the visual from performing arts.

This section provides a sampling of books that showcase the variety of texts available in the library.  This section also includes databases and suggestions of online resources.  The items provided in this area are not exhaustive, but rather represent places to start your journey and exploration into the different kinds of art under the heading "Visual Arts."

Recommended Books

Recommended Databases

4000 Suisun Valley Road
Fairfield, CA 94534
(707) 864-7000
2001 North Village Parkway
Vacaville, CA 95688
(707) 863-7836
545 Columbus Parkway
Vallejo, CA 94591
(707) 642-8188
530 Hickam Ave., Bldg. 249
Travis Air Force Base, CA 94535
(707) 424-2431