What is the history of art?


By “art” is understood any product made by the human being with a communicational or aesthetic purpose, where an idea that the artist has about some object or scene, real or imaginary, is embodied. Artistic expressions dating back many years have been found, such as sculptures, paintings and architectural works that today are considered the historical heritage of humanity. history of art


In order to analyze these artistic manifestations, the history of art is constituted as a subcategory of the social sciences that focuses on studying the evolution and transformation of the arts through history. Just as there are different artistic expressions, the history of art can be subcategorized according to the specific manifestation or representation, namely: history of music, history of literature, history of painting, among others.


The oldest artistic objects date from the Paleolithic, the period between 25000 and 8000 BC, when man was engaged in hunting and fishing. The works dating from this time are mostly found in caves, they are known as prehistoric works or cave paintings. Also included in the category of “prehistoric art” are works dating from the Stone Age and Metal Age.


During the Paleolithic, sculptures were made, the most famous of which is the “Venus of Willendorf”. It is believed that this piece was part of the religious cult and represented fertility. The cave paintings mentioned above were made with iron and manganese oxide, clay and other components. history of art

It is also known that during milestones in a person’s life (such as their birth, marriage or funeral) rites were performed where danced as part of the celebration or commemoration; while these dances were accompanied by sounds produced by rudimentary sound instruments. history of art

During the Neolithic (prehistoric period between 15000 and 8000 BC) it was observed that the paintings became more schematic, human forms are observed and cities are built through urban planning. On the other hand, in the Metal Age, materials such as copper, bronze, iron and others were used in daily activities; and it is observed that more artistic importance was given to death and its commemoration: an example of this is the Stonehenge complex, a huge funerary monument.

The history of art continues with ancient art, a stage during which the first great cities were built, which were bounded by four rivers. Here it is important to highlight the invention of writing, which allowed the creation of a new art form: literature. The first writing dates from 3500 BC and was made in Mesopotamia. history of art

The writing underwent variations as it was perfected, and it was the Hebrews who related a unique symbol to each sound. From this the Greek and Latin alphabets were derived. Mesopotamia was one of the cities developed during this time, and many different artistic expressions come from it. In it was found the “Poem of Gilgamesh”, which describes the flood narrated in the Bible. Sculpture was also developed, the most outstanding being the “Stela of Hammurabi”.

In terms of architecture, the hanging gardens of Babylon stand out, mainly. It also highlights the use of bricks and the implementation of elements such as arches and vaults in buildings. And to culminate, music also underwent an important development during this stage, as percussion instruments such as the lilis and the adapa (timpani and tambourine, as appropriate), and others a little more melodious such as the algar and the tigi (lyre and flute, respectively). This is because during religious rituals music and dance were used a lot. history of art

Another of the great cities of the ancient world was Egypt. Anyone who hears the name of the country immediately thinks of pyramids, the most outstanding architectural work in this region. Artistic expressions in Egypt were much more related to religion, and themes related or related in some way to death were also developed with great intensity.

For example, the pyramids were built as huge tombs of the pharaohs, and these buildings were embellished thanks to artistic manifestations of Egyptian citizens who were virtuous with some material, having the ability to make art with it. As for literature, it is remarkable that Egyptian culture was the first to develop a book. history of art

Like each era, each continent also has its own art history . For example, art in America is concentrated mostly in Mexico and Peru. In the first, clay and stone sculptures have been found, while in Peru the first religious temples were built long before the creation of ceramics, and the origin of the textile industry dates from this same country. history of art

In Africa, for its part, art has always been related to religion, with sculptures and paintings used in worship and special ceremonies. Perhaps the most representative structure for this continent during the time we are a student is the Nok sculpture.

For their part, in India and Asia the arts have always supported religion, whatever it may be: Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, among others. Additionally, it highlights that artistic works always have some relationship with nature. The Hindus, for their part, developed their own writing system called Sanskrit; and they also developed their own style of music. history of art

His peculiar style originates from the fusion of diverse cultures that converge in India ; This is mainly due to differences in culture. Some peoples used to use only two notes in their songs, while others used unusual instruments such as the flute, more chords, among others.

Art in our days art enjoys a wide network of study, dissemination and conservation of all the artistic legacy produced by humanity throughout history. During the 20th century, institutions, foundations, museums and galleries, public and private, have grown, which are dedicated to the analysis and cataloging of works of art and the exhibition of these works in museums to the delight of a majority public. history of art

The growth of the communication media has been a means for the improvement of the study and dissemination of art. International events and exhibitions, such as the biennials in Venice, Sao Paulo or the Documenta in Kassel have helped to promote new styles and trends. 

The history of art is really interesting for those who appreciate artistic works, and who are passionate about studying how the expression of art has varied depending on the era and functioning of society at the time. It is a material of general culture, because we should all have elementary knowledge of what art really is, where it comes from and what is pursued with it. history of art

Ancient art history of art

Within the history of art is ancient art, named after the artistic creations of the first stage of history, which began with the invention of writing, highlighting the great civilizations of the Near East. first artistic manifestations of the majority of peoples and civilizations from all continents.

One of the great advances at this time was the invention of writing, born out of the need to record facts due to the advancement of the economy and commerce. The first written code was cuneiform writing, on clay tablets. Hieroglyphic writing developed in Egypt.

Classical art history of art

Classical art is called the art developed in ancient Greece and Rome, which, thanks to scientific, material and aesthetic advances, contributed to the history of art a style based on nature and on the human being.

Harmony and balance, the rationality of shapes and volumes, and a sense of imitating nature prevailed in classical art. This created a settlement of the foundations of Western art, making classical forms a constant throughout history in Western civilization.

Medieval art history of art

The fall of the Western Roman Empire marked the beginning of the Middle Ages in Europe, which was a stage of certain political and social decadence, due to the fragmentation of the empire into small states and the social domination of the new military aristocracy, all this meant feudalization of all the territories previously administered by the imperial bureaucracy.

All these facts caused, in the history of art , that classical art was reinterpreted by the new dominant cultures, of Germanic origin and by the new religion, which was Christianity, which will influence most of medieval artistic production. history of art

Art in the 20th century

The art of the 20th century underwent a profound transformation, due to a materialistic and more consumerist society, art is directed to the senses, not to the intellect, with the concept of fashion gaining special relevance, a combination between the speed of communications and the consumer aspect of today’s civilization. history of art

New avant-garde movements emerged, integrating art into society and seeking a greater interaction between the artist and the spectator, since it is the latter who interprets the work, being able to discover meanings that the artist did not even know. Current art has become a concept art, valuing active art, a spontaneous, ephemeral and non-commercial art.

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