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Art Definition and Development Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 23rd, 2020

Humanity has always had the need to express its feelings and emotions. Having obtained some peculiarities of homo sapiens, people understood their need in powerful remedy which would be able to help them to change some ways of expressing their feelings and emotions, which were peculiar to animals, and suggest something new and unique. It is obvious, that human beings needed some special way of organizing their thoughts which would differentiate them from the rest of the world.

That is why, observing a beautiful sunset or an exciting hunt, a man tried to remember it. However, it was not enough as memory was not reliable and knowledge and impressions could be forgotten. Additionally, future generations would not get to know about feelings and emotions which were very important for a person. Understanding of the need leads to the attempt to fulfil it. That is why, people started looking for some methods which would be able to help them to convey their feelings and emotions and make them available for the rest of people. Being rather primitive, first people, however, understood that there was the only way to do it.

That is why, they started painting some primitive pictures on rocks, using juice of fruits or blood of animals. The first pictures were rather schematic and simple, however, their importance cannot be overestimated. There is no use denying the fact that with the first line art as the phenomenon appeared. Moreover, since those times, it became one of the main companions of humanity which had always been following it. In this very work some peculiarities of the formation of art and its history are described and investigated.

There were many different definitions of art in the history of humanity. Modern approach states that art is a set of certain activities which are aimed at the creation of some works and objects which can be taken as the way of expressing human feelings, thoughts and emotions. However, it is quite general definition and it does not convey all sense of the phenomenon of art. These activities include painting, crafting, writing, making photos and a great number of other actions which serve to show the attitude of a person to a certain event, feeling or emotion. Moreover, almost every epoch promoted appearance of new and unique kinds of art which later became popular.

This process can be explained by the thirst for some onliness which is peculiar to human beings. Very often, they are not satisfied with methods of expressing feelings and emotions which have already been created by someone else. Resting on this fact, it is possible to say that art as the phenomenon is eternal and, moreover, new methods will appear regularly. Art always changes along with society. Usually, it describes and reflects some peculiarities of the epoch and its main events. However, art can also influence development of society, dictating some new rules and trends, making people more involved in the process of cultural development. With this in mind, it is possible to say that there are different stages of development of art which correspond to some certain stages of development of society. Knowing peculiarities of the appearance of the main cultural peculiarities of the epoch, it is possible to guess what kind of art was appreciated and how it was connected with the life of people.

As we have already said, art appeared as the first paintings on rocks. However, it was only the first stage of its development. Besides, human beings and society were constantly changing, creating new tools and substances, improving their skills and mind. That is why, it is obvious that these shifts could not but influence development of art and its main peculiarities. With this in mind, art can be divided into several conventional periods which had their own unique techniques and methods.

The first period is connected with the art of ancient world. It was the beginning of civilization and the first states with their own unique culture appeared. Having no complicated tools and materials, people, though, managed to create masterpieces which impress imagination of people nowadays. The main peculiarity of the ancient world was admiration of giant buildings and monuments which very often were connected with some religious matters. It is very difficult to judge about paintings of ancient world as there are not many of them left. However, architecture and sculpture cannot but inspire people and give a lot of questions to discuss. The Pyramids, Sphinx, Abu Simbel and other magnificent temples of ancient Egypt strike imagination. There is still a great number of questions connected with these masterpieces as it seems impossible that people could create them. Moreover, numerous bass reliefs show main peculiarities of drawing technique of ancient world.

Ancient epoch was replaced by the Antique period which is sometimes considered to be one of the most significant stages of the development of art. Greek and Roman cultures gave world a great number of ideas and methods which are used by artists all over the world even nowadays. The thing is that the approach to art created by the artists of Antiquity is considered to be classic1. Proportions and methods are appreciated nowadays as nothing can be more perfect than ancient sculptures. However, magnificent temples and buildings serve as the best evidence of the high level of development of architecture and tools. Moreover, arts of philosophy and rhetoric gave a great number of terms and notions to scientific world.

This epoch, though, was replaced by the period of history which became known as Middle Ages. Being characterised by the decline in antique art and total devastation, it, however, also gave the world its own unique understanding of art. It is characterised by deep religious motifs as it was the age of the total dominance of the Church. Great number of different temples and cathedrals, decorated with leaded pane, can even nowadays show all peculiarities of the epoch.

Moreover, Middle Ages became the basis for the unique phenomena which changed the whole image of art. It became known as Renaissance. In modern science, it is often taken as the revaluation of the main values and an attempt to return to the ideals of antiquity. Great names such as Michelangelo, Donatello, Rafael and, of course, Leonardo da Vinci became known for the whole world. The last name is taken as the symbol of art of those times. Moreover, Leonardo da Vinci is considered to be the creator of different new and unique methods in painting, sculpture, architect and even mechanics. His famous schemes of unusual machines were ahead of time as he foresaw creation of airplanes, tanks and some other mechanisms. Mona Lisa and The Last Supper can serve as the brightest examples of his creativity.

However, art and society continued their development and a new period, known as Modern age, came. Of course, it introduced some unique features which became peculiar to art of this period of history. Blistering development of painting, which stared in the previous epoch, continued and a great number of outstanding artists appeared. Pictures became more detailed and complicated, moreover, many new techniques appeared. It is possible to say, that painting became the dominant form of art as almost all meaningful events of this period of time were depicted. Moreover, majority of artists, who lived in those times, became very popular and contributed greatly to the development of art in the whole.

New century brought significant changes to art. Important shifts in the life of society influenced creation of absolutely new ways of expressing feelings and emotions. Modernism and impressionism, post impressionism and some other directions appeared as the reflection of changes in society. Taking this fact into account, it is possible to say that this period can be described as the age of search. Artists tried to look for something new in order to express their feelings. That is why, a great number of different schools and approaches appeared. They influenced greatly the image of modern art and the way it could be understood. The most important aspect of the art of our age is subjectivity of its perception. The way in which an artist sees the world is the most important aspect of art nowadays and that is why, it is possible to say that pictures can be very strange and difficult to understand.

Having outlined main stages of the development of art, it is possible to state the fact that it is impossible to mention and understand all peculiarities of its evolution without deep and precise analysis of every epoch and every artwork. Mainly due to this fact, such science as the history of art appeared. Art history is ‘the study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e.genre, design, format, and style’2. As it becomes clear from definition, the main purpose of this science is analysis of existing artworks and their main peculiarities.

‘Art history is distinguished from art criticism, which is concerned with establishing a relative artistic value upon individual works with respect to others of comparable style, or sanctioning an entire style or movement; and art theory or “philosophy of art”, which is concerned with the fundamental nature’3

Moreover, it tends to trace the history of development of a certain method or style of art and understand why it now obtains all traits which distinguish it from other styles of art. This science is not so old as art itself as people did not have the need in analysis of their works. However, with the development of critical thinking, art history obtained greater significance and people started to think about the beginnings of this way of self expression.

‘The earliest surviving writing on art that can be classified as art history are the passages in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History’.4 This work was devoted to ancient Greek sculpture and painting. It becomes obvious that having developed their skills, people started to think critically and evaluate their works. With this in mind, Xenokrates of Sycon can be taken as the first art historian as he tried to explain and understand the most significant peculiarities of the epoch. However, it was just the beginning of history of art. The work Lives of Painters became the first real work devoted to this issue. It was written by Giorgio Vasari, a painter and sculptor from Italy.

The book became an example for his followers as it was the first work which main aim was to trace the development of art and its main methods. Moreover, as it became obvious from the title, he described lives of a great number of different painters who were famous in those times. This work created the basis for this science and history of art started its development. Many years later, Johann Joachim Winckelmann created another approach which became known as art criticism. He did not agree with the cult of artists which was popular at that time, saying that to understand art it was necessary to trace not only the lives of artists, but all peculiarities of development of style and methods. Being the most significant stages of development of art history, these two approaches promoted blistering development of this science and a great number of different methods or art analysis appeared. All they tried to understand peculiarities of art and explain them for readers.

However, not only paintings, sculpture and some other material objects can be taken as art. Since ancient times, people also tried to create some stories which would be able to save their experience and convey them to next generations. The first narrated story became the first masterpiece of the art of literature. Existing for a long period of time in oral form, it than obtained its embodiment in books. This fact promoted blistering development of this kind of art, moreover, literature became an integral part of humanity. There is also a great number of different kinds of literature which have been developing for a long period of time.

Moreover, their evolution has not stopped yet. Being very powerful remedy which helps people to write down their experience and express feelings, literature is obvious of a great interest for scientists. That is why, there is a special science which investigates history of literature as a kind of art and can be taken as the branch of art history. There are also some main stages of development of literature which coincide with the same steps of development of some other kinds of art. It is obvious, that certain epochs promoted creation of artworks with some similar traits and peculiarities. People tried to realize their thirst for harmony and beauty, creating masterpieces of literature which served as the reflection of the inner beauty of a writer. That is why, literature became very important phenomenon which influenced life of people greatly.

Moreover, literature also reflected some events which happened at certain periods of time and were important for writers. Chartism was one of these phenomena. It was “the world first and most dramatic working-class movement”5. Being very dramatic and unique, this struggle could not but inspire authors to write their works. Thomas Cooper, Ernest Jones, George W. M. Reynolds and a great number of other authors tried to show all peculiarities of the confrontation between working people and government and their thirst for political reforms. New forms and methods in literature appeared in this period of history. The Chartists had the idea of common struggle of the whole England against the government in order to achieve some improvements of the conditions under which workers lived and worked.

In their works, they showed lives of common people who suffered from unfair attitude. Great number of different novels and poems appeared. The poem Oppression raised the question of the life of ‘the People’6, meaning poor majority of England which wanted to survive. Being a unique phenomenon in literature, Chartism appeared as the reflection of the main ideas of the epoch. Being a kind of art, literature helped people to show their grief, emotions and thirst for changes.

Having analysed the information connected with the development of art, it is possible to make certain conclusion. First of all, it should be said that art appeared at the same time as the first thought came to mind of a human being. Since ancient times, it has been the main remedy of people which helped to express their feelings and emotions. Being an integral part of human society, art comes along with humanity obtaining new peculiarities and reflecting some meaningful events in its history. There is a great number of different kinds of art. However, being very inquisitive, people wanted to understand main peculiarities of the development of art. As a result of this interest the history of art appeared. Its main aim is the attempt to understand and explain all peculiarities of the development of art and analyse its main methods. Understanding eternal character of this phenomenon, it is possible to foresee further blistering development of art and the science of art history.

Reference List

Wikipedia. 2015. Web.

Kastan, D. S. (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006. Web.

Stokstad, M. and M. Cothern. Art History Volume 1. London, Pearson, 2013. Web.


  1. M. Stokstad and M. Cothern, Art History Volume 1. London, Pearson, 2013, p. 122. Web.
  2. ‘Art history’, Wikipedia. 2015. Web.
  3. ‘Art history’, para. 3.
  4. ‘Art history’, para. 7.
  5. D.S. Kastan, (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006, p.440. Web.
  6. Kastan, p. 441.
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