What Is the Timeline of Art History?

Art|Art History

The timeline of art history is a long and complex one, stretching back to the earliest known forms of mankind’s creative expression. Throughout the ages, different styles and techniques have been developed, with some periods more influential than others.

The earliest forms of art are often referred to as ‘prehistoric’ and date back to around 40,000 BC. At this time, humans were producing cave paintings and petroglyphs as a way of expressing their beliefs and culture. These early examples of art are considered to be the beginning of the timeline for art history.

From here, the timeline progresses into ‘Ancient Art’ which began around 3000 BC in Egypt and Mesopotamia. This period saw the emergence of architecture and sculpture for religious purposes as well as decorative arts such as pottery and jewelry. It also saw the development of writing which enabled people to record their thoughts and experiences in detail for future generations.

The next period on the timeline is ‘Classical Art’ which began around 500 BC in Ancient Greece and Rome. This era was marked by a focus on idealized forms such as the human figure, natural scenery, and abstract patterns. It also saw the emergence of drama, music, literature, philosophy, and science which all had an influence on art production at this time.

The following period is known as ‘Medieval Art’ which began around 500 AD in Europe and lasted until around 1500 AD. This period was marked by religious themes in art production as well as a focus on craftsmanship rather than individual creativity. Architecture flourished during this era with many cathedrals being built across Europe during this time.

Renaissance Art followed with its emergence in Italy during the 14th century AD. This era saw a shift away from religious themes towards more secular subjects such as nature scenes and portraits of people from various walks of life. The Renaissance also ushered in a new appreciation for science resulting in advances in perspective painting techniques among other aspects of artistic expression.

Modern Art emerged during the 19th century AD with its roots firmly planted in Europe although it quickly spread throughout other parts of the world including North America and Asia. This period saw an emphasis on experimentation with techniques such as Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, Surrealism etc., as well as abstract concepts such as color theory and design principles.

Contemporary Art is still being produced today with its roots firmly planted in modernism although it often encompasses many different styles from around the world including street art, digital media arts etc., With new advancements being made every day it’s impossible to predict exactly where contemporary art will take us but one thing is certain – it will continue to be an ever-evolving field that is constantly pushing boundaries.


The timeline of art history is a long one that stretches back thousands of years to some of mankind’s earliest creative expressions. Different periods throughout history have had their own unique style while influencing each other along the way culminating in today’s vibrant contemporary scene that continues to push boundaries.