The history of art is an expansive and nebulous topic, with a history as diverse as the cultures that have created it. Art has been around since before recorded history, and its significance has changed over time. From its earliest beginnings in ancient caves to its most modern expressions in digital media, the history of art is a long and complex story.
Prehistoric art dates back to around 40,000 years ago and is found in various parts of the world. This early artwork mainly consists of primitive carvings and paintings on cave walls. These works are thought to be a form of communication among early humans, conveying spiritual beliefs and ideas about their environment.
The ancient Greeks are credited with inventing the term “art” to describe the expression of their culture through painting, sculpture, architecture, music and dance. Greek art had a major influence on Roman art and by extension all subsequent Western art. Roman art was inspired by both Greek mythological subjects as well as contemporary political events.
The Middle Ages
The Middle Ages saw the development of religious-based art in Europe. Art was used to express ideas about faith, morality and political power. Gothic cathedrals are an example of this type of artwork, featuring intricate sculptures that depict religious stories.
The Renaissance was a period of artistic innovation beginning in Italy in the 14th century. It marked a shift away from religious-based artwork towards more secular subjects such as landscapes or scenes from everyday life. Renaissance artists were also interested in perspective, which allowed them to create more realistic works.
Modernism emerged in Europe during the late 19th century as artists sought to break away from traditional styles and methods. This period saw a variety of artistic movements including Expressionism, Surrealism and Cubism which focused on abstract forms rather than representational images.
When Did the History of Art Started? The history of art goes back tens of thousands years with prehistoric cave paintings being some of the earliest examples. Throughout history different styles have emerged from Ancient Greece through to Modernism which has shaped how we view art today.