This timeline shows the major art movements. Note that these movement overlap with one another and occur in different parts of the world. This timeline is meant to be a reference while reading the newspaper.
30,000- 2000 BCE: Prehistoric
- Prehistoric art is all art produced in preliterate, prehistorical cultures beginning somewhere in very late geological history, and generally continuing until that culture either develops writing or other methods of record-keeping
- Examples: cave paintings, portable sculptures (Venus of Willendorf), reliefs
3500- 636 BCE: Mesopotamian
- Mesopotamian art includes art from the Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian empires. These empires were located in the Middle East.
- Examples: small sculptures for offerings, stele’s, ziggurats, reliefs, protective gates
3500- 30 BCE: Egyptian
- Ancient Egyptian art reached a high level in painting and sculpture, and was both highly stylized and symbolic. Much of the surviving art comes from tombs and monuments and thus there is an emphasis on life after death and the preservation of knowledge of the past.
- Examples: pyramids, block sculptures of pharaohs, coffins
3000- 1200 BCE: Aegean
- Aegean art refers to art that was created in the Grecian lands surrounding, and the islands within, the Aegean Sea. This period includes three cultures the Cyclades, the Minoans, and the Mycenaeans. Each culture was located on a different Grecian island or part of the mainland.
- Examples: Cyclades- geometric sculptures, Minoans- frescos, pottery, fun and stylized work, Mycenaean- masks, scenes of war, tholos
900- 31 BCE: Greek
- The Greek period include several different styles such as archaic, classical, and hellenistic. Through these periods Greek art progressively got more realistic and emotional. This period’s sculpture and architecture has influenced many artists and has inspired periods to revert back to classical ways.
- Examples: reliefs, hellenistic sculpture, temples (Parthenon), black figured pottery
900- 89 BCE: Etruscan
- Etruscan art was the form of figurative art produced by the Etruscan civilization in central Italy.
- Examples: Sarcophagus’, temples with roof sculptures, tombs
753- 337 BCE: Roman
- Roman art refers to arts made in Ancient Rome and in the territories of the Roman Empire. Roman art includes architecture, painting, sculpture and mosaic work. The Romans were very impressed with Greek art and often copied Greek sculptures. Three things that the Romans invented were aches, concrete, and aqueducts.
- Examples: Panthon, Pompeii, arches, Colosseum
29 BCE- 526 CE: Late Antiquity
- This period is a transition between the classical periods and the Middle Ages. During this time basilican style churches started to be built.
- Examples: catacombs, mosaics
527 – 1,453: Byzantine
- The Byzantine period was centered in Eastern Rome, mostly Turkey, around the city of Constantinople. The Eastern Orthodox Church was a huge inspiration to the art, which created religious paintings and mosaics of Jesus and Mary, and also central planned buildings.
- Examples:Hagia Sophia, large eyes, elongated bodies, pantokrators
570- 1,600: Islamic
- Islamic art spans over the vast geographical area of the Middle East, with both religious and secular elements. There are lots of repeating patterns, organic imagery, and references towards God. Figures of humans or animals are excluded because the Qu’ran forbids it as idolatry.
- Examples: calligraphy, textiles, glass, arabesque
476 – 1,050: Medieval
- In early Medieval art there was a fusion of Christianity, Greco-Roman heritage, and the cultures of the non-Roman peoples north of the Alps. This period was mostly prevalent in western Europe.
- Examples: folio pages, viking trinkets (purse covers, earrings, etc.), relics
1000 – 1,200: Romanesque
- The work Romanesque means “Romanlike” and it refers to certain architectural elements that resemble those of the ancient Roman architecture such as barrel and groin vaults and the round arch. During this period there was a focus on pilgrimages. These pilgrimages were an important source of funding for monasteries that possessed relics. With this money cathedrals became even bigger to hold large number of travelers.
- Examples: Speyer Cathedral, ribbed-groin vaulting, very tall columns, stone decoration (minimal to no mosaics or murals), reliefs, decorated relics, tapestries
1140 – 1,500: Gothic
- The term “Gothic” was first used as a term of ridicule to describe late medieval art and architecture. During this time some believed that the Gothic period was “monstrous and barbarous.” This period had a focus on architecture and decorating cathedrals. New elements of architecture were introduced such as flying buttresses, stained glass, and lancet windows. This period was a time of prosperity as well as hardship for Europe. The Hundred Year’s War and the Great Plague were during this period. The turmoil of this period can be spotted in some art such as relics.
- Examples: Notre-Dame, archivoltes, door jambs, stained glass, rose windows, manuscripts, relics (use as comparison: Virgin of Jeanne d’Evreux and Virgin with the Dead Christ), alters,
1200 – 1400: Early Renaissance
- Early Renaissance is a period that was mainly developed in Florence, Italy during the 15th century. It is characterized by the development of linear perspective, chiaroscuro (the treatment of light and shadow in drawing and painting), and geometrically based compositions.
- Examples: reliefs, Florence Cathedral, paintings of Virgin and Child
- Artists to know: Cimabue, Giotto, Duccio
1375 – 1500: Flemish
- Flemish art is characterized by idealism and experimentation with perspective. Technically, Flanders was a county in the Netherlands, a country that consisted of what is Belgium and the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and part of Northern France. However, during the 15th century the term “Flanders” also referred to a bordering territory.
- Examples: altarpieces (Ghent Altarpiece), portraits
- Artists to know: Van Eyck, Van Der Weyden, Bouts, Hieronymus Bosch!!!!
1420 – 1500: 15th Century Italian Art
- 15th Century Art is characterized by the spread of humanism, which had an emphasis on education, individual potential, and a commitment to civic responsibility. Improvement was encouraged, and excellence and was rewarded with fame and honor. Many pieces are ornate with brilliant color and gilding.
- Examples: Medici family patronage, structural accuracy, alterpieces
- Artists to know: Lorenzo Ghiberti, Donatello (sculptor), Massacio, Brunelleschi (architecture), Botticelli
1500 – 1600: High Renaissance
- The High Renaissance is characterized by paintings in Florence and Rome. These painting are known for technical mastery and heroic composition and humanistic content. During this period man Popes started to commission art for the Sistine Chapel and Vatican City.
- Examples: Mona Lisa, ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, oil painting
- Artists to know: Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael
1475 – 1600: Reformation
- The Reformation was a movement that established the Protestant Church, separating them from the Catholic Church. In response the Catholic Church launched the Counter-Reformations. Ultimately, the Reformation split Christendom in half and produced a hundred year civil war between the two groups. Protestants focused on subtly religious themes in their art.
- Examples: altarpieces, oil paintings
- Artists to know: Dürer, Bruegel
1600 – 1750: Baroque
- The Baroque period is a style of European architecture and art of the 17th and 18th centuries that followed mannerism and is characterized by ornate detail.
- Examples: ornate ceilings, oil portraits, landscapes, still life’s
- Artists to know: Bernini, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Ruben, Rembrandt
1750 – 1851: Late 18th through the Mid-19th Century
- This period encompasses many sub periods including Rocco, the Enlightenment, Neo Classism, Romanticism. This period also marked the first attempts at photography.
- Examples: oil paintings, etching, detailed rooms
- Artists to know: Jacques-Louis David, Goya, Turner
1850 – 1905: Modernism
- Modernism was a style that aimed to break from classical traditions. Sub periods connected to Modernism are Realism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and many more.
- Examples: paintings, bronze sculpture, interior decorating
- Artists to know: Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Homer, Seurat, Cézanne, Munch, Klimt
1900 – 1940: Expressionism
- Expressionism is a style of painting in which the artist seeks to express emotional experience rather than impressions of the external world. This period also encompassed Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism, Surrealism and many more isms.
- Examples: paintings, unique and simple sculptures, collage, more advanced architecture
- Artists to know: Matisse, Picasso, Boccioni, Dali, Miró, Mondrian
1945- Present: Contemporary
- Contemporary art is art produced at the present period in time. Contemporary art includes, and develops from, Modern art and Postmodern art.
- Examples: performance art, organic architecture, sky scrapers, abstract paintings
- Artists to know: Andy Warhol, Pollock, Rothko, Frank Lloyd Wright