The History Of Art

History Of Art

Art history is a great major for those students interested in the arts, but also an important piece of cultural history. It’s also something that can be studied at any level, from high school to college. This article will cover everything you need to know about art history!

Prehistoric Art

Art is a human universal and has been found in all cultures, from the Paleolithic period to the present day. The oldest known examples of art date back to this period (the Paleolithic era), when cave dwellers decorated their caves with drawings and paintings on walls or ceilings using natural pigments such as ochre, charcoal, and red ochre.

The most common materials that were used for these works are stone, bone, wood, or antler; however, other materials such as clay were also used during this period depending on location and culture.

Ancient Civilizations

Art historians have long known that the most important periods in art history are ancient civilizations. The ancient Greeks and Romans were great patrons of sculpture, painting, and other forms of visual art. They used their artistic skills to create a sense of order out of chaos—to create beauty from ugly things.

In this section we’ll look at some examples from these ancient cultures:

  • Greek Sculpture – This is one of the oldest types of art we know about; it was created by Greeks who lived between 800 BC and 300 AD (about 2,000 years ago). Most sculptures were made out of marble or stone but sometimes they were made from bronze instead! Some examples include Zeus’ thunderbolt (which he threw at Typhon), and an Apollo sculpture called “Discobolus” which shows how much strength he had even though he was only 18 years old when he died because his father ordered him killed after his mother seduced him into falling in love with her daughter Artemisia (a huntress).
  • Roman Painting – Another popular style during this period was painting on walls using oil paints instead because watercolor wasn’t invented until 500 AD when monks discovered how easy it was for them not only make but also sell these paintings without having any money left over after paying rent each month so as not get kicked outta their monastery forever!

Greek Art

The Greeks were the first to create art and architecture that focused on symmetry, polygonal shapes, and perspective. They also used geometry to create forms that would be viewed from a particular angle or distance.

The Greeks believed in the importance of proportion—that all things should be equal in size or shape by using geometry rather than just making them look good according to their standards. This principle played an important role in most Greek artwork because it meant that you could tell how big something was without having to see it up close; you could get an idea of its size by seeing how much space it took up relative to other objects around it (like buildings). It also helped artists keep track of proportions when they painted murals at temples or tombs!

Roman Art

Roman art is characterized by realism, naturalism, and a deep respect for the human body. It was influenced by Greek art, especially sculpture and painting; Egyptian hieroglyphics; Etruscan architecture; Gaulish metalwork; South Italian ceramics and glassware. Roman artists also borrowed ideas from other cultures such as the Greeks, who were famous for their statuary—particularly their warrior heroes known as “Athenian” warriors (after Athens).

Roman sculptors often used different materials such as bronze or marble for their statues: some of these statues have survived until today so we can still see how beautiful they were!

Byzantine Art

Byzantine art is the art of the Byzantine Empire, which is associated with the cultural and artistic developments in the Byzantine Empire from about the 5th century to 1453, after which it was replaced by the Ottoman Empire. It follows both Hellenistic and Roman styles, but still retains much of its ancient character.

The term “Byzantine” means “of Byzantium”, a reference to Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), where this style emerged. By extension it has become a common term for all later Eastern Orthodox Christian cultures that developed some aspects of classical culture during their history; thusly it can be applied not just to Byzantium specifically but also to Orthodoxy as an entire civilization.

Middle Ages and Gothic Art

The Gothic period was a period of artistic creativity, characterized by its ornate features and heavy use of stone. During this time, most buildings were constructed using mortar (a combination of lime and sand) rather than cement or concrete. This made it easier to build with less material, but also required more craftsmanship because the building had to endure long periods without maintenance.

The Gothic style was an attempt at re-creating Roman architecture as practiced in Ancient Rome; however, there were several differences between Roman architecture and medieval structures:

  • Columns were replaced with pilasters (pilasters have flat tops), which served as structural support for walls instead of supporting beams above them;
  • Decorative elements like capitals and brackets were added on top;
  • Doors were narrower than windows so that no light could enter through them


The Renaissance was a movement in art and architecture that began in Italy during the 14th century and spread throughout Europe. It was marked by great artistic achievement and cultural renewal.

The Renaissance began as a cultural revival that emphasized individualism, education, and humanism. This period also saw great advances in science, technology (e.g., the printing press), and exploration (e.g., Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the Americas).

Baroque and Rococo

The Baroque style is characterized by drama, emotion, grandeur, and movement. Its artworks are often large-scale designs reflecting an abundance of energy. Rococo art was the first to use bright colors on a large scale and it featured ornate decorations that were more playful than those in traditional Baroque paintings

19th Century Art

The 19th century was a period of great change in the arts, as artists began to reject the classicism of the 18th century and embrace romanticism. This combination of styles led to a new kind of art that combined realism with romanticism.

The Industrial Revolution created an urban environment where people lived close together but didn’t have access to nature or animals like they did before industrialization. This made them seek out new ways to express themselves through their work—and it also meant that there were many opportunities for artists!


Modernism is a movement that began in the late 19th century and continued into the early 20th century. It was a rejection of the past, with artists focusing more on their own time than those who came before them. This period saw many changes in art:

  • Art became more abstract—a trend that continues today
  • Artists began to use new materials such as canvas and paint instead of oil paint or tempera (an old method)

Contemporary Art

Contemporary art is a broad term that can include a variety of styles and mediums, but it’s often political or socially conscious. Contemporary artists often use traditional methods, but with a modern twist.

Art history is a great major for those students interested in the arts but also has a strong cultural history.

The history of art is a great major for those interested in the arts but also has a strong cultural history. It can be used as a gateway to other studies, such as anthropology and sociology. Students who choose this major could spend their time learning about different artists’ careers or making their pieces of art. They may even work with museums on curating exhibits or writing papers on the topic.


Art historians are dedicated to the study and preservation of art. They analyze works of art to determine their context, meaning, and purpose. Art history is often taught alongside other academic subjects such as literature or history, but it can also be offered as a stand-alone course at the high school level. The curriculums for both freshmen and seniors can vary significantly depending on whether students are pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree program. Many colleges offer minors in art history; some even require specific coursework from applicants before offering admission into their schools!

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