Figurative in its broadest sense refer to art that depicts an image from the real world. In particular it refers to art with the human or animal figure as its subject. Since the advent of modern art figurative art has also been used as an opposite of abstract art.

The representation of the human and animal form goes right back to the origins of art its self and can be found in the early cave paintings found in Germany and France. Continuing through antiquity we can see that the figure continues in art even if as in the Egyptian hieroglyphs it is a stylised form. The more lifelike sculptures of classical art still covey in their composition deep held social and political concepts, as well as representing the figure.

During the renaissance artist such as Leonardo da Vinci and Sandro Botticeli sought to capture the true human form with a more scientific and photographic quality. Modern figurative art includes a wide variety of artist and movements including Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud.