History of art, the most important stages of development

Art (from Church-Slav. Art (Latin experimentum – experience, test); Art. – Slav. Iskous – experience, less often torture, torture) – a figurative understanding of reality; the process or result of expressing the inner or outer world of the creator in an (artistic) image; creativity directed in such a way that it reflects the interests of not only the author himself, but also other people.
Art (along with science) is one of the ways of cognition, both in the natural sciences and in the religious picture of the perception of the world.

The concept of art is extremely broad – it can manifest itself as an extremely developed skill in a particular area. For a long time, art was considered a kind of cultural activity that satisfies a person’s love for beauty. Along with the evolution of social aesthetic norms and assessments, any activity aimed at creating aesthetically expressive forms has gained the right to be called art.

On the scale of the whole society, art is a special way of knowing and reflecting reality, one of the forms of artistic activity of social consciousness and part of the spiritual culture of both man and all mankind, a diverse result of the creative activity of all generations.

The term art can be used in different senses: the process of using talent, the work of a gifted master, the consumption of works of art by an audience, and the study of art (art history). “Fine Arts” is a set of disciplines (arts) that produce works of art (objects) created by gifted masters (art as activity) and evoke a response, mood, convey symbolism and other information to the public (art as consumption). A work of art is the intentional and talented interpretation of an unlimited number of concepts and ideas in order to convey them to others. They may be created specifically for a specified purpose, or they may be represented by images and objects. Art stimulates thoughts, feelings, representations and ideas through sensations. It expresses ideas, takes many different forms, and serves many different purposes.


At present, the world cultural tradition uses concepts of art that originate in Mediterranean antiquity, especially in the Greco-Roman understanding of this term.


In a primitive society, primitive pictorial art originates with the species Homo sapiens as a way of human activity to solve practical problems. Originating in the era of the Middle Paleolithic, primitive art flourished in the Upper Paleolithic, about 40 thousand years ago, and could be a social product of society, embodying a new stage in the development of reality. The oldest works of art, such as the shell necklace found in South Africa, date back to 75,000 BC. e. and more. In the Stone Age, art was represented by primitive rituals, music, dances, all kinds of body decorations, geoglyphs – images on the ground, dendrographs – images on the bark of trees, images on animal skins, cave paintings, rock paintings, petroglyphs and sculpture.

The emergence of art is associated with games, rituals and rituals, including those conditioned by mythological and magical representations.

Primitive art was syncretic. According to some authors, it originates in pre-speech skills and techniques for transmitting, perceiving and storing linguistic information in memory. The communicative utility of primitive creativity, along with the development of the aesthetic aspect, is clearly observed in the pre-printing folklore period of the cultures of all peoples. There are also theories about art as a biological function (artistic instinct).

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.