Art history

Art in the ancient world

The foundations of art in the modern sense of the word were laid by ancient civilizations: Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Indian, Chinese, Greek, Roman, as well as Arabian (ancient Yemen and Oman) and others. Each of the mentioned centers of early civilizations created its own unique style of art, which survived the centuries and influenced later cultures. They also left the first descriptions of the artists’ work. For example, the ancient Greek masters in many ways surpassed others in depicting the human body and were able to show the muscles, posture, the correct proportions and beauty of nature.

Arts in the Middle Ages

Byzantine art and the Gothic of the Western Middle Ages were focused on spiritual truths and biblical subjects. They emphasized the invisible sublime grandeur of the mountain world, using a golden background in painting and mosaics, and represented human figures in flat, idealized forms.

In the east, in Islamic countries, it was widely believed that the image of a person bordered on the forbidden creation of idols, as a result of which the fine arts were mainly reduced to architecture, ornamentation, sculpture, calligraphy, jewelry and other types of decorative and applied arts (see Islamic art). In India and Tibet, art was centered on religious dance and sculpture, which was imitated by painting, which gravitated towards bright contrasting colors and sharp contours. An extremely diverse art form flourished in China: stone carving, bronze sculpture, ceramics (including the famous terracotta army of Emperor Qin), poetry, calligraphy, music, painting, drama, fantasy, etc. The style of Chinese art changed from era to era and is traditionally named after the ruling dynasty. For example, the painting of the Tang era, refined and monochrome, depicts an idealized landscape, while in the Ming era, thick rich colors and genre compositions were in vogue. Japanese styles in art also bear the names of local imperial dynasties, and there is significant interconnection and interaction in their painting and calligraphy. Since the 17th century, wood engraving has also spread here.

From the Renaissance to the present

The Western Renaissance returned to the values ​​of the material world and humanism, which was again accompanied by a change in the paradigm of the fine arts, in the space of which perspective appeared, and human figures acquired the corporality that had been lost. In the Age of Enlightenment, artists sought to reflect the physical and rational certainty of the universe, which seemed to be a complex and perfect clockwork, as well as the revolutionary ideas of their time. So William Blake painted a portrait of Newton in the image of a divine geometer, and Jacques-Louis David put his talent at the service of political propaganda. Artists of the Romantic era gravitated toward the emotional side of life and human individuality, inspired by Goethe’s poems. By the end of the 19th century, a number of artistic styles appeared, such as academicism, symbolism, impressionism, fauvism.

However, their age was short, and the end of the old directions was brought not only by the new discoveries of Einstein’s relativity and Freud’s subconscious, but also by the unprecedented development of technology, spurred on by the nightmare of two world wars. The history of art of the 20th century is full of the search for new pictorial possibilities and new standards of beauty, each of which conflicted with the previous ones. The norms of Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, etc. did not outlive their creators. Growing globalization has led to the interpenetration and mutual influence of cultures. So the work of Matisse and Pablo Picasso was greatly influenced by African art, and Japanese engravings (themselves influenced by the Western Renaissance) served as a source of inspiration for the Impressionists. Western ideas of communism and postmodernism also had a colossal influence on art.

Modernism with its idealistic search for truth in the second half of the 20th century. paved the way for the realization of his own unattainability. Relativity was accepted as an indisputable truth, which marked the onset of the period of modern art and criticism of postmodernity. World culture and history also became relative and transient categories, which began to be treated with irony, and the blurring of the boundaries of regional cultures led to their understanding as parts of a single global culture.