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Ancient Egypt (3100-30 BCE)


In ancient Egypt they believed their entire life was dedicated into getting
into an afterlife. You could take whatever was buried with you into the next
life. They dedicated much of their resources into building gigantic tombs
for their important people, as well as gigantic temples to glorify their gods.
All of these were designed to be timeless, and last for extremely long
periods of time.
Historical Context
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa. It was
founded along a large river that flooded regularly, called the Nile river.
This Nile river provided a stable source of water and provided the ability to
set up stable agriculture. This allowed the Ancient Egyptian civilization to
flourish into a remarkably large nation. The Egyptian periods are called
kingdoms. Starting from the oldest is the old kingdom, middle kingdom,
new kingdom. Ancient Egypt was also departed by two types of Egypt.
One was upper Egypt, located along the upper part of the Nile, and the
lower Egypt, located along the Nile delta. Each of these kingdom periods
was separated by a periods of relative instability called intermediate
periods. The Egyptian people were ruled by a god king called a pharaoh,
who often initiated the construction of their tomb early in their reign. Their
tombs often took many years to build, and required many man hours of
many slaves to build. An example of a tomb would be one of the pyramids
at Giza.
Egyptians were remarkably adept at building for their time. The many
achievements of the ancient Egyptians include the quarrying, surveying
and construction techniques that facilitated the building of monumental
structures, such as the pyramids. They also discovered a system of
mathematics, a effective system of medicine, as well as irrigation systems
and agricultural productions techniques.
In their art of their leaders, they would represent their important
individuals to a strict canon of proportions. This meant that their arms
could only be a certain length, their heads only at a certain length, and so
on. The stricter the individual is in this canon of proportions, the more
important the individual usually is. This canon of proportions was
considered ideal for human representation.

Byzantine (476-1450 CE)

Byzantine Art is predominantly very formal, very flat, with little dimension,
all objects face forward towards the viewer, and the lighting of their
churches can make many of their works of art seem to be floating.

The art of the Byzantine Empire was very characteristic of having very
little to its dimension, meaning its very flat. Most of this is explained by
the theme. Almost all of their art is made out of materials to have the light
hit it and shine, and almost all the art is religious in meaning and context.
Gothic (1140-1400)
Height & Light
This theme refers to the Gothic architecture at the time, which
incorporated very high buildings, with many stained glass windows, letting
in a lot of light.
Historical Context
The Gothic art historical period was during a time of Urban life becoming
more and more common, becoming centers of patronage commerce,
wealth and power. It was during this time that there was an increased
amount of skilled craftsmen and other workers who had created Trade
Guilds during the 14th century, in an attempt to band together craftsmen
of a specific type and protect their common interest. Sometimes these
guilds grew to dominate their cities economies, almost completely.
Compared to earlier, the cities were large, and there was little fighting
going on.
It was during this time two new religious orders sprang up, the Franciscans
& Dominicans. The Franciscans are defined as people who adhere to the
teachings and spiritual disciplines of Saint Francis of Assisi. These people
also usually adhered to the Roman Catholic Church, however many later
denominations also consider themselves Franciscan. Francis himself was
deeply touched about a sermon, and decided to live his life in permanent
poverty, going to teach and proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven. Francis did
not take any money, or even a walking stick or shoes for the road. The
only thing he had with him was a rough garment that he wore.
The Dominicans was a Roman Catholic religious order founded by a
Spanish priest named Dominic de Guzman. While originally founded to
preach the Gospel and to combat heresy, it is well known for producing
many educated people due to its intellectual tradition.
The Dominican order includes friars nuns, active sisters, and lay or
secular Dominicans. Dominic saw a need to establish a new kind of order
to provide systematic education and dedication to the older monastic
orders, to help bear on the religious problems of the increasing size of
It was during this time that people began to reconcile Christian theology
with classical philosophy to help answer questions of divinity and
humanity. For example Thomas Aquinas published Summa Theologica to
show a Rational approach to religious faith with 631 questions and
answers to those questions.
Almost all art of this time period was inside major churches, which

Medieval theologians believed that the beauty of the church would cause
people to meditate and believe. During this time stained glass was the
main form of art to be shown on cathedral wall and churches, which often
preached the path to salvation to the viewers. These churches were now
often built using two engineering breakthroughs, ribbed groin vaults, and
flying buttresses. which were necessarily to help support the massive
churches to be built as high as possible, with as many windows as they
could fit.

ROCOCO (1700-1750)
Rococo art could be described as the Baroque period on a binge, it is
extremely over the top in its art style, with heavy ornamentation, fanciful
curves, extremely playful and bright colors, and scenery of pleasure.
The Rococo period was a period in which predominantly french artists
reacted against the Baroque style. They despised its strict regulations on
grandeur, symmetry and lines as well as its predominantly dark colors. In
this way, they did the opposite. They made it very colored, with many
curvy lines and extreme ornamentation.

Late 18th & Early 19th Century, Neoclassicism, Romanticism (1750-1850)

Head vs. Heart refers to the two differing art movements during the Late
18th & Early 19th century. Head refers to the Neoclassical movement, with
Heart referring to the Romanticism movement. These differing movements
had different ideals, Neoclassicism was very logical and portrayed scenes
in a logical fashion. Romanticism, however, was a reaction to these logical
ideals, and is very illogical glorifying the extreme and emotion in art. Head
vs. Heart helps us remember this.
The art changed to reflect what the people of the time wanted, becoming
more and more logical and realistic in portrayal. People called for art that
taught enlightenment ideals, and returns to classical themed art. This type
of art was a direct reaction against the Rococo art which was highly
artificial and frivolous. Neoclassical art was the direct opposite of this art,
being down to earth, realistic, and logical.
Those artists affected by these forces saw the current events and
problems, chose to represent them. These artists birthed a new art
movement called Romanticism. It followed emotion and portrayed art that
brought about emotion in the viewers, and drew upon
its mannerism heritage. They reacted against some of these movements
or reacted to the forces in this time in general. For example, some
Romanticists chose to paint large nature scenes and pictures of large open
country in an effort against urbanization and the industrial revolution.
Some saw current events and problems and chose to represent them the
way they are to spread information about the atrocities or simply news

that it happened. This can be seen in the paintings of Goya during the
Spanish resistance against the French. Others painted slave ships, horrific
accidents or just horrific scenes of demons. For example, the Raft
of Medusa was about a shipwreck off the African coast. All of these
paintings had something in common they all draw on powerful emotion.
Late 19th Century (1850-1900)
This theme encompasses what the art of the Late 19th Century is. Most of
the art from this time period was inteneded to be very different from art
from before, or using new technology or techniques to produce artwork
distinctly of this time.
People were beginning to settle down and accept the continuing industrial
revolution. People had an optimistic outlook on life, that eventually all the
wars and revolutions and discovery would eventually lead to
a Utopian society, or a perfect society.
Art during this period was mostly about going against the norm. This was a
time of many art movements and art movements that reacted against or
for other art movements. This was probably because of how much faster
communication had become, and how quickly ideas could be spread. The
art movements of the period included, Realism, Impressionism, Post
impressionism, Art Noveau, Symbolism, and Early Photography.
Each of these movements usually went against the norms of the time,
such as Impressionism where they did not care about traditional art, but
rather they were critisized heavily by the critics of the time. This art
movement was characteristic because of its thin brush strokes a
emphasis on accurate depiction of light and unusual visual angles. An
emphasis was put on painting what you see, as objects and lighting
change. Post Impressionism was another art movement that extended the
Impressionist movement while rejecting its limitations.
Post impressionists painting using thick colors and real-life subject matter,
but represented geometric forms more often, and often had arbitrary color
choices. Art Nouveau was another small art historical movement that put
an emphasis on decorative patterns and Abstract depiction of lines and
shapes. The art of this movement was supposed to be beautiful, not
represent a specific point of view like the Romanticism or Neoclassical
movements. They sought to make beauty and harmony a part of everyday
life. Symbolism was another movement that was a part of the late 19th
century movements that sought to show that art should represent
absolute truths that could be described indirectly. There was a large
amount of Symbolic use in the Symbolism movement. Also, new to any
other period was the Early Photography movement. Cameras had just
been invented, and so were being used as a form of art. It was not fully
taken form, but often photographers would depict normal scenes,
or portraits of people, sometimes artists would take still lives or
manipulate their photos to get a specific scene. Sometimes they would
just take pictures of current events or document events, such as the work

of Timothy O'Sullivan in the war photos he took during the American Civil

Late 20th Century (1950-Present)

This theme centers around the different forms of art during this period, the
people who have massive amounts of color and shapes on visual
stimulation who fall under Less is a Bore category and those who believe
Less is More, such as the color field artists and other minimalists who have
little visual stimulation or color or difference.
This art historical period was very influenced by many world events, as
well as previous art movements. This was a time of
extreme expressionism, minimalism, and popular art. By the end of the
century, major changes had taken place. More technological advances had
been made than in all of preceding history. New advances such as
communications technology, like cell phones or computers, transportation
technology, such as commercial air planes, medical advances, such as as
the discovery of penicillin and the use of vaccines, had radically changed
every day life. The world was undergoing a major period was globalization,
radically affecting the art of the time, as well as the general populace. Art
had changed radically along with everything else, the U.S was now the
primary source of art, as New York became the art capital of the world.
This was a time of movements such as Abstract Expressionism, Color
Field, Minimalism Photo Realism, Pop Art, Environmentalism, Feminism,
Performance Art, Conceptual, and Post Modernist art. Abstract
expressionism was an American post WWII movement and was the art
movement that helped to put New York City at the center of the Western
art world. It had a emphasis on spontaneous automatic, or subconscious
creation. Art like dripping paint onto a canvas was considered Abstract
Expressionism. Color Field painting is a style of abstract painting that
emerged in New York at around the same time as Abstract Expressionism
and was closely related to it. The focus of this art movement placed less
emphasis on brushstrokes and action, and instead put more emphasis
on overall consistency of color and form of the art. Often Color Field art is
just simply lines of a simple color across a canvas. Minimalism had a focus
of eliminated all non-essential characteristics of an art piece, making the
artwork very abstract and very simple. Photo realism was the genre of
painting based on using technology such as cameras to help create

information to then create a painting that appears to be photographic.

Their scenes of artwork can appear to be extremely realistic, with all the
normal detail necessary.
Pop art is an art movement that was intended ot challenge normal
traditions of fine art. In normal Pop art, material is removed from is known
context or combined with other material that can be completely unrelated
to it. The art is often taken from what is currently in use in advertising and
uses it to make fun of the advertisement strategy or today's culture.
Environmentalism was an art movement that used environmental objects
to produce temporary art in a naturalistic way. The Feminist art movement
was the efforts of feminists to make art that reflects woman's lives and
experiences, as well as to publicize their art to make it as recognized
as men's artwork. Performance art was a new form that was intended to
be presented to an audience in some form of scripted or unscripted
manner. Conceptual art is art in which the concept or idea involved in the
artwork takes precedence over the traditional representation of normal
art. Postmodernism is in general the era that follows modernism, and is a
term for the new interpretations of culture, literature, art, philosophy,
architecture, economics, etc.