10 julio, 2024

Artistic image: what it is, characteristics, function, elements, examples

What is an artistic image?

In the plastic arts, a artistic image It is the visual representation of an object with the purpose of evoking aesthetic sensations in the spectator, at the same time as transmitting the artist’s message.

Elements of nature, geometric objects and abstract shapes participate in the composition of an artistic image, which the artist combines according to his creativity. The image does not necessarily represent real objects, although nature is undoubtedly an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

In terms of techniques, the artist uses traditional media such as oil, watercolor, sculpture, photography and video, and even computer-generated images.

In principle, the artistic image differs from other types, such as technical images (diagrams, schemes, plans, medical images) and advertising, for example, in that it does not necessarily pursue a utilitarian objective.

However, this does not mean that some technical images are completely devoid of aesthetic sense.

The viewer is always capable of noticing in an image certain qualities such as color, balance, light and composition, which make it visually pleasing, although they are not always aware of it.

Therefore, in a broader context, a utilitarian image could also be considered artistic, when in addition to fulfilling its objective, it also manages to have a positive impact on the observer.

Origin and characteristics of the artistic image

Since art is a natural expression in humans, artistic images are not only found in museums, but also in streets and homes, and have served for communication and expression through the ages.

The first known artistic expressions are cave paintings, which show how primitive people interacted with their environment. Some date back 65,000 years, preserved to this day deep in the caves.

There is speculation about the goals of the cave artists, whose sources of inspiration were their surroundings and the animals they hunted.

Some experts believe that the images served as a magical instrument to promote hunting and others say that they were part of their rituals, as symbols of their conception of the universe.

In any case, all artistic images, including contemporary ones, share a series of characteristics:

1. They convey the intention of the artist

An artistic image produces sensations and emotions, in which the feelings of the author and the observer are combined.

2. They come in different formats and supports

A number of supports are used for its creation: canvas, paper, stone, celluloid and more. They also cover different formats and sizes, and use various techniques.

3. They can be fixed or in motion

An artistic image can represent a still scene, such as a painting or photograph, or be in motion, such as a movie. Even in the case of a still image, the artist, if he wishes, can use various techniques to give the scene the sensation of movement.

4. They take great care of detail

The artistic images reveal the skill of their creator, since he spends a lot of time taking care of every detail of the composition, as well as the techniques used.

5. They are timeless

This means that regardless of the era, artistic images are still considered art. And to a large extent, this fact is independent of the culture that originated them.

Cave paintings and a large part of the art of ancient civilizations, to mention just a few examples, are considered today as authentic works of art.

Function of the artistic image

An artistic image fulfills various functions, the main one being to provide the observer with a pleasant aesthetic sensation.

For thousands of years, before the invention of writing, images were one of the primary means people had of expressing their ideas. Therefore, the artistic image is capable of:

Convey intentions, ideas and feelings of its creator.
Express the artist’s conception of reality.
Serve as a decorative element.
Be used for religious, symbolic and ritual purposes.

Elements of an artistic image

Artistic images share the elements of any image, but with the attributes already described. In this sense, three main elements stand out:

Objector central aspect selected by the artist to create the image.
Shape, includes the techniques used, the style, the basic components (dots, lines) that participate in the image, as well as the lighting and composition (way of organizing said components). In these, lines, volume and texture also stand out, among other formal aspects.
Contentrefers to everything that the artist wishes to convey through his work: beauty, realism and emotions.

Examples of artistic images

1. Murals

It is the oldest technique that exists, since the support is simply a wall, which can be natural, like a cave, or a building. Cave paintings are the first murals created by humanity.

Other examples of famous murals can be seen today adorning the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, notably those decorating the chapel’s vault and apse, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1541.

In contemporary muralism, the Mexican artists Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros stand out.

2. Sculptures

A sculpture is a three-dimensional image made of clay, marble, stone, wood, metal, or other material that can be carved or molded in some way by the artist.

As with cave paintings, sculptures dating back to prehistoric times have been found, and over time, this art evolved, with the Ancient Greek era being one of the most fruitful.

In it, the beauty of the human figure was greatly exalted, as can be seen in the famous Venus de Milo, whose author is unknown.

3. Oil images

With this technique, the artistic images par excellence have been created, using various supports such as wood and canvas. Great artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Rembrandt and Velázquez used oil for their works, highlighting the iconic Mona Lisa by Da Vinci.

4. Photography

Instead of brushes, photography uses a camera that captures and manipulates light to produce an image. In this way, almost exact duplicates of a scene are achieved.

Developed during the 19th century, photography soon began to take over some attributes of painting, such as portraiture. Little by little it was positioned as an art, with the photographer being able to use the elements around him, creating sensitive compositions for the viewer.

For example, a landscape photographer is an artist who conveys all the beauty and drama of nature in one photo, even in black and white.

5. Cinematography

This is the art of moving images. Movies tell stories through which viewers are moved, learn, and go on adventures.

A good movie is not only enjoyed in the moment, but leaves a lasting impression on the audience.

The film industry has produced films that are considered works of art for their plot, as well as for the beauty and evocation of their images. There are movies for all tastes, and there is definitely no agreement between critics and fans about which one is the best, but among the most awarded, the following stand out:

Gone with the Wind (1939)
Benhur (1959)
Titanic (1997)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Each of them, with the technology of its time, stands out for its extraordinary artistic images.

6. Artistic Computer Imaging

They are part of digital art, which uses software to create images, instead of brushes, fabrics and paints. This is a new technique, as photography and cinematography were in their time, so many people still do not consider them in the same category as traditional artistic images.


Delgado, P. The meaning of the image through its history. Retrieved from: abcblogs.abc.es.
Technical Secondary School 85. Artistic images and their visual language. Recovered from: artesvisualessecundariatecnica85.blogspot.com
Photography in La Molina. Elements of an image. Retrieved from: lamolina.edu.pe.
Monterde, J. The artistic image at the end of the century. Retrieved from: dialnet.unirioja.es.
Winner, E. Art for art’s sake. Recovered from: ipn.mx.

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