Hoch-Cut_With_the_Kitchen_Knife – Dadaism

We have been around this area before in our discussion of Art History. Still, this is a nomenclature that exists in Art History and therefore worthy of being shared with all of you.
Associated with Marcel Duchamp and the Dada movement, Anti-art has its origins around the year 1914. Artists like Duchamp rejected current definitions of art and created works that were outside of the traditional arts or popular art. While unconventional, Anti-art expanded people’s notions of what could be deemed art. While some artists associated with the movement abandoned traditional art forms altogether, others employed some traditional forms (i.e. painting, sculpture, etc…).

Art historians view Anti-art as more of an umbrella of various movements aimed at breaking with traditional forms and views of art. The Dada movement is regarded as the first of these movements. Dada theorists sought to create art that was opposite to the conventional definitions of art and this ideal is also part of the Anti-art aesthetic. However, Anti-art could also reflect the absence of art. An empty frame, for example, could be described as a work of Anti-art.


Anti-artists generally were opposed to high art as well as the art market itself. They strove to break with traditions as well as known art institutions. Aside from Dada, other well-known movements under the umbrella of Anti-art include Constructivism, Surrealism, Letterism, and Neo-Dadaism. Duchamp’s Ready-Mades are among early examples of Anti-art. His work Fountain (1917) features an upside down urinal. The work was controversial because it essentially premised that anything could be deemed art–even the presentation of a found object like a urinal.

An example of Surrealism

Like Dadaists, many artists aligned with Anti-art movements rejected conformity of any kind. Many even rejected the artist’s association with a work of art and worked anonymously or collectively with other artists. After World War I, such movements rose to greater prominence as the ‘old world’ seemed lost after the horrors of war. Artists began to blur the boundaries of art increasingly more.


Lettrism is a French art movement, or anti-art movement, that was established in the mid 1940s by Isidore Isou.

Many Anti-art movements were also associated with political movements of their era. For instance, many Dadaists, particularly Berliners, were aligned with radical Communism. Constructionists were associated with the early years after the Russian Revolution. Many Surrealists also identified with Communism.

Berman – Neo-Dada

In many ways, both art and politics merged to simply mean anti-establishment for artists who wanted to break with old forms of art and governance. Often deemed as radical, today Anti-art is generally embraced by the art community and even collected by museums. Anti-art movements existed well into the 1960s and 1970s. Moreover, many artists and the course of Modern Art itself have been integrally influenced by Anti-art theories, artists, and art works.

Neo Dadaism


Orientalism is an artistic style popular in the nineteenth century. Several Western artists, especially French artists like Delacroix, painted scenes of Eastern culture that often depicted harem women and sheiks alongside the scenery of Northern African and Middle Eastern lands. Paintings of the Orientalism movement showcased Oriental motifs, designs, and even styles. Exotic scenes set within an Oriental backdrop were highly regarded in Western Europe during the nineteenth century.

Orientalism is often considered by art historians to be an artistic culmination of imperialism. The Asian influence was already well established in Europe due to decades of colonization. Companies like the East India Company opened up vast doorways for trade with the East. Both Chinoiserie and Japonisme were similarly influential waves of Oriental styles. While paintings that were Oriental in subject matter were seen in Europe centuries before, they were far more numerous during the 1800s when more Western artists began to travel to the Middle East and North African destinations.

Le bain turc (1862) Jean Auguste Dominique INGRES (1780-1867)Le bain turc (1862) Jean Auguste Dominique INGRES (1780-1867)

Typically Islamic in nature, these paintings of the Near East were usually sensual in colour and, indeed, subject matter. Harem scenes often showcased exotically garbed women posed sensually atop low couches. Turkish bath scenes as in Le Bain Turc (1862) were depicted with blatant sexuality provoking the idea of an orgy, certainly provoking the idea of unrepressed and unfeigned sexuality running rampantly through such places—a marked contrast with life in the West. Slave markets, hookah smoking, and provocative women were the hallmarks of these artistic works. While not all paintings reflect eroticism or vice, such as the View of the Leander Tower in Constantinople by Ivan Constantinovich Aivazovsky, they essentially convey the exotic nature of Eastern locations.

Some of the movement’s most famous artists include Eugene Delacroix, Jean Ingres, and Jean-Leon Gerome. The erotically charged paintings of Orientalism were widely accepted in Europe and were seen, perhaps with prejudice, as in keeping with the exotic cultures of such locations. Other artists that participated in the Orientalism movement include Edmund Dulac, Theodore Ralli, Horace Vernet, James Tissot, Alberto Passini, Alphonse Dinet, and Jean Baptiste Vanmour. However, many more artists contributed to this movement and the Orientalism catalog of works is quite extensive.

Orientalism grew in controversy, despite initial popularity, for its stereotypical depictions of Arab peoples. Because subjects were often depicted in scenes of amorality, the paintings are often viewed today as objects of propaganda against the people of Arab countries. In any case, during its heyday in the nineteenth century, Orientalism and its paintings of odalisques, merchants, and slaves were popular and are still popularly collected today. Among the most famed paintings are: Algerian Women in Their Chamber by Eugene Delacroix, La Reine de Saba by Edmund Dulac, Odalisque with a Slave by Jean Ingres, and The Hookah Lighter by Jean-Leon Gerome.

Courtsey: Art

12Eugène Delacroix. Women of Algiers in their Apartment. 1834. Oil on canvas. 180 × 229cm

Odalisque with Slave by Jean IngresOdalisque with Slave by Jean Ingres

_La Reine de Saba_ ~ Edmund Dulac”La Reine de Saba” ~ Edmund Dulac


Suprematism. Kasimir Malevich
Suprematism. Kasimir Malevich

With its focus on geometrical shapes and forms, the art movement known as Suprematism was founded by the Russian artist Kazimir Malevich around the year 1913. Yet the term as applied to Abstract Art also refers to the supremacy of artistic feeling and not merely the depiction of objects. Pure feeling is the heart of the Suprematism ethic and Malevich expounded upon it in his work From Cubism and Futurism to Suprematism: the New Realism in Painting. Malevich’s movement is often associated with art of the early Soviet Union which was particularly open to his concepts and new visions for art direction.

Kazimir Malevich, Suprematism, 1916-17, Krasnodar Museum of ArtKazimir Malevich, Suprematism, 1916-17, Krasnodar Museum of Art

Art historians suggest that Malevich began moving toward his new aesthetic after working on operatic sets and costumes. In fact, his ideas began to take shape as he worked on the backdrops of various St. Petersburg operas. One such presentation was a backdrop that depicted a large square divided diagonally into black and white sections. By 1915 he created one of his most celebrated works, a painted black square atop a white canvas. The work is simply titled “Black Square” and is one of the most recognizable works of Suprematism. This work has been extremely influential as well as controversial.
Malevich, Black Square, 1913. First Suprematist ExhibitionMalevich, Black Square, 1913. First Suprematist Exhibition

Because of the era in which it was created–the era of the First World War and the Russian Revolution, “Black Square” has sometimes been viewed as a work of Nihilism and may be viewed as anti-Western. In fact, it was seen as anti-tradition as well. For the Soviets who were concerned about the influence of outside forces like European tradition and religion, the work symbolized a break from those elements. On the other hand, Malevich himself argued that the work was meant to convey the idea of zero-form. That is, he simply wanted to demonstrate a break from conventional art and the creation of new modes of picture or image-based language.
Kazimir Malevich, Black Circle, 1915, oil on canvas, 106.4 _ 106.4 cm, State Russian Museum, St. PetersburgKazimir Malevich, Black Circle, 1915, oil on canvas, 106.4 × 106.4 cm, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

Kazimir Malevich Paintings Kazimir malevich suprematism-in-the-Rye-Kazimir-Malevich-1911

Taking-in-the-Rye-Kazimir-Malevich-1911Kazimir Malevich Paintings Kazimir Malevich – Suprematism

Malevich led a group of Suprematists who thrived in the early years of the Soviet era when new ideas were embraced. Other artists associated with the movement include Aleksandra Ester, Ilya Chashnik, Olga Rozanova, and Nina Genke-Meller. Like many avant-garde artists, however, the Suprematists were eyed with suspicion and largely criticized during the Stalin years. While Suprematists are associated with early twentieth-century Russia, they had a strong impact on the rest of the art world which was also experimenting with new forms and new ideas during that period and many were breaking from the old conventions as well.
Construction - Aleksandra Ekster - 1923Construction – Aleksandra Ekster – 1923

Suprematist Composition 1923 Ilya Chashnik 1902-1929 Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum MadridSuprematist Composition 1923 Ilya Chashnik 1902-1929 Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum Madrid

Olga Rozanova – Colour Construction


Jean Dubuffet - Assemblage
In terms of art, Assemblage is regarded as a process. Using found objects, artists produce three-dimensional compositions to create original art. Pablo Picasso is credited with introducing Assemblage to the art world. He, of course, was revered for his Cubist constructions among other art works. The term assemblage, however, wasn’t used until the 1950s. The artist Jean Dubuffet created his series of collage art called Assemblages d’Empreints, a work featuring butterfly wings. The term Assemblage stuck and other artist began to use it to describe their artistic process too.

Untitled-1 Marcel Duchamp moulé vif

Roue De Bicyclette - Marcel DuchampRoue De Bicyclette – Marcel Duchamp

While the term is associated with the mid-twentieth century, many artists along with Picasso favored this process for creating art. Marcel Duchamp, Vladimir Tatlin, and Louise Nevelson also practiced the Assemblage process for creating art. Works of Assemblage might feature natural or man-made objects in their compositions. It’s important to note, because the two are frequently confused, that assemblage is definitely dimensional in nature; collage, on the other hand, is a two-dimensional work that features pasted elements. Even so, it’s common for the two terms to be used interchangeably. Typically, Assemblage art features a sculpted appearance, but this is not always the case.

readymade-assemblage-by DuchampAssemblage by Marcel Duchamp

Artists who create Assemblage works can use any found objects they like. Stone, wood, shell, fabric, metal, or any other items are fair game for the Assemblage artist. When associated with the Cubists, for example, Assemblage art is often concerned with the notion of shape as well as the found objects’ composition. The arrangement of these items is also particular to the artist and, indeed, unique to the composition. Works of Assemblage tend to be very eclectic and highly original.

Still Life 1914 Pablo Picasso 1881-1973 Purchased 1969 Picasso, ‘Still Life’ 1914

s Famous Collage - Still Life With Chair CaningPablo Picasso’s Famous Collage – Still Life With Chair Caning

PICASSO - Glass of AbsinthePicasso: Glass of absinthe

Some of the best known examples of Assemblage art include works like Picasso’s Still-Life (1914) which showcases upholstery fringe and carved pieces of wood. This work can be viewed in person at London’s Tate Museum. Additionally, Picasso’s Glass of Absinthe made in the same year features an actual spoon in its composition; as an added element, the work is free-standing. The artist Richard Stankiewicz employed junk or scrap items to create Assemblage works. Tom Wesselmann was known for using bright and bold coloured synthetic items in his creations.

Tom WesselmannTom Wesselmann

DENVER, CO - JULY 1: Jeffrey Sturges, studio manager of the estate of Tom Wesselmann (walking foreground) supervises as members of the Denver Art Museum installation crew from left to right Ethan Tuers, Cary Hale, and Kevin Hester, put the finishing touches on Still Life #60 by artist Tom Wesselmann, a sculptural painting which includes six parts and measures more than 25 feet. Still life #60 is one of approximately 100 works by Wesselmann from the upcoming DAM exhibition "Beyond Pop Art: A Tom Wesselmann Retrospective" which opens July 13, 2014, inside the Hamilton building. (Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post)Tom Wesselmann – sculpture

aTom Wesselmann maquette_for_smoker_1981_aluminium Art Sculpture

The Assemblage process afforded artists with a new mode of creating art. Some artists found it ideal for creating their vision of anti-art while others found it useful for creating environmental art works. As a highly flexible art form, Assemblage is still employed today. Many renowned works of Assemblage are housed in some of the most revered modern art museums of the world.

typewriter assemblage by Jeremy MayerTypewriter Assemblage by Jeremy Mayer

typewriter-people-jeremy-mayerTypewriter face by Jeremy Mayer

Video on works of an Artist NOAH PURIFOY Noah S. Purifoy (1917–2004) was an African American visual artist and sculptor, co-founder of the Watts Towers Art Centre, and creator of the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum. He lived and worked most of his life in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, California. He is best known for his assemblage sculpture, including a body of work made from charred debris and wreckage collected after the Watts Riots of August 1965. In the late 1980s, Purifoy moved to the Mojave Desert, and over the last fifteen years of his life built what is now the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Sculpture Museum. Located on 10 acres of open land near the town of Joshua Tree, California, the museum contains over one hundred works of art, including large scale assemblages, environmental sculptures, and installation art created by the artist between 1989 and 2004. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art−LACMA will be temporarily relocating some of his works to the museum for the show Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada (June 2015−February 2016). This is a video on a remarkable man and his work in assemblage art. As it is in HD, please allow time to buffer.8Array ( [0] => https: [1] => [2] => [3] => 16468971 )


“The Assyrians came down like wolf on the fold…”
Which school-goer has not read ‘The Destruction of Sennacharib’, the campaign to capture Jerusalem in the stirring poem by Lord Byron? Today we are going to talk of these brave people – the Assyrians, and, in particular, their art.

Assyrian artAssyrian stone tablet

Located in Mesopotamia, the ancient kingdom of Assyria thrived on the upper banks of the Tigris River. Initially the kingdom was comprised city states along with a few small Semitic kingdoms. Historians believe the first rulers date to roughly 2000 B.C. Assyria’s first capital was located at Assur from which it took its name. Assyria’s career as a regional power waxed and waned during the ancient period, but it was a dominant power ruling much of upper Mesopotamia from 2000 B.C. to 1500 B.C. and later from 911 B.C. to 612 B.C. Assyria came to be famed for its fierce warriors, ambitious kings, and singular art.

s monarchy, the last Amorite to rule over AssyriaA tablet from Shamshu-Iluna’s monarchy, the last Amorite to rule over Assyria

Scholars believe that Assyrian art began to emerge around 1500 B.C. At this point, artefacts demonstrate a break with Babylonian and Sumerian art and showcase features that are uniquely Assyrian. In time, the Assyrians became particularly skilled at preserving important aspects of their culture in art. Assyrian art of ancient Mesopotamia is among the most famous of the region. Many archaeological relics of Assyrian art were discovered during excavations of the twentieth century; these items are collected by some of the most prestigious museums in the world.

Assyrian warriorsAssyria warriors

Assyrian royalAssyrian Royal

Most Assyrian art dates to the Neo-Assyrian period (911 B.C.-612 B.C.). Assyrian artists typically carved battle scenes on stone reliefs. Sculpting reached sophisticated levels in Assyrian art during this period. Some reliefs depicted the violent deaths of entire villages. Scholars believe that such graphically detailed works of violence were meant to advertise the power of the empire and its rulers and to intimidate their enemies. The artwork was showcased on palace walls and royal monuments in order to impress foreign dignitaries. Other reliefs have been unearthed, however, that portray elements of Assyrian life such as the transporting of goods by boat. Certainly some of the works were religious in nature as well.

633px-Khorsabad-assyrian-statueKhorsabad Assyrian statue

Among the most famous Assyrian subjects are its animal forms. Lions and horses were often depicted with great precision. Often the animal carvings and statues were viewed as protective forces containing religious significance. Assyrians placed these guardians in gateways or at entrances. Winged lions and other beasts often sported human heads and are among the artistic works that Assyria is best remembered for today. One of the most famous animal relief works depicts Assurnasirpal II during a ninth century B.C. lion hunt; the work was achieved in alabaster and can be viewed at the British Museum. This museum also contains a famed alabaster lion hunt scene featuring the famed ruler Assurbanipal during the seventh century B.C. Winged bulls with human bearded heads also feature predominantly on Assyrian reliefs. Other museums that contain significant collections of Assyrian artwork are the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Oriental Institute in Chicago.

Assyrian eagle headed spirit, 18 inch high, stone castingAssyrian Eagle-headed spirit

We should talk about Babylonian and Sumerian Art, as they developed in the time before the Assyrians, but since we are not following chronological order, we would pick up on them in succeeding articles on Art History on Fridays.

assyrian-art-architecture-palacesInside of an Assyrian palace


Cave painting of hunters chasing cattle Cave painting of hunters chasing cattle

The art of Africa covers a broad region, of course, and also encompasses a wide array of art forms. According to most expert definitions, African art generally omits the art of North Africa (especially regions that border the Mediterranean Sea), Christian art of Ethiopia, and the ancient art of Egypt which are discussed as movements of their own with unique traditions. Even so, this broad grouping also represents art from prehistoric times to the present. Within this scope there are many subdivisions and important eras of African art.

Rock Art from central Africa Rock Art from central Africa

African art has its origins in pre-history. Some rock art recently discovered in South Africa near the Cape may be older than 70,000 years old. The continent is home to a large body of prehistoric rock art. Traditional African art is comprised of art forms such as masks, jewellery, carvings, rock art, sculpture, textiles, metalwork, and much more. Many nations are associated with particular art forms. For example, various peoples of Mali and Cote d’Ivoire are renowned for their traditional masks and headdresses. Tanzania’s Makonde art of fine carving continues to be revered today.

West African and Egyptian sculpture West African and Egyptian sculpture

Yaka figurines Yaka figurines

cave paintings

Mask from Africaafrican statuette

Masks and statuettes make up a large proportion of African art in general. Often made from wood and decorated with pigments and other natural items like cowrie shells or ivory, these items typically played a ceremonial or even religious role for the cultures that created them. Many African artworks were created with religious and spiritual underpinnings; others might have been created with ancestors in mind. A significant body of African art could be said to represent the theme of power while others were simply created to show off the wealth of some of Africa’s royal courts.

African beadworkBeadwork from Africa African textiles

Aside from rock art, sculpture, and masks, art forms like beadwork and textiles have played important roles in Africa’s collective arts. Jewellery has historically been important to many of Africa’s tribes for designating status or place in society. In a larger context, African art also includes oral traditions, basketry, dance, and writing systems. Africa boasts a rich folkloric tradition as well.

African contemporary painting african_painting_CAL_0209

Desert Flower by Joadoor Desert Flower by Joadoor

Africa’s traditional arts have evolved, of course, and today the continent enjoys a rich tapestry of contemporary arts. Many of the art forms build upon past traditions yet employ modern sensibilities too. Some contemporary African art exhibits global influences. Many major cities throughout Africa boast important art centres and museums that house many of Africa’s great works–from both past and present. African art is also highly collectible throughout the world.

My Twins by Ghanian artist Appiah Ntiaw My Twins by Ghanian artist Appiah Ntiaw

black-art-paintings1 images


Abstract Art

Picasso - Factory 1909Picasso – Factory 1909

Georges Braque_bottle-and-fishes-1910Georges Braque – bottle-and-fishes-1910

Abstract art is a form of modern and post-modern art that focuses on the power of each individual work to express compositions in a new way. Works in this genre are often non-representational (which means that the artist’s forms may vary from a small degree of inaccurate representation of images to total abstraction with no recognizable imagery). Abstract art includes the movements of Cubism, Neoplasticism, and Abstract Expressionism. With the Cubist works of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, abstract art appeared regularly in the West by the early 1900s. Artists often mirrored changes in science and technology in the twentieth century with abstract art forms.

Esphyr SlobodkinaEsphyr Slobodkina

Born in 1908 in the Siberian town Esphyr Slobodkina of Chelyabinsk, abstract artist offers a glimpse of abstract art in the first half of the twentieth century. In Composition (1940), oil on gessoed masonite, she creates forms using solid colours, including blue, purple, red, brown, grey, white and black. With simple shapes, the observer sees the importance of line. The abstract artist might intentionally use vertical, horizontal, or diagonal lines or simple shapes in a particular pattern to create movement or another visual effect. When shapes are not clearly defined in abstract art, other elements like colour and line might become more important.

Colour choices were important in another work, Abstraction with Red Circle (c. 1938); the artist uses a simpler combination of colours, including black, muted greys, yellow, red, and green. The last three colours are used to make small shapes stand out on the otherwise black and gray work. In these two works, we see that the subject and the specific shapes are not individually important. Rather, shapes combine to achieve balance. The great thing about Slobodkina is that she did not just paint. She wrote and illustrated children’s books, including the famous title, Caps for Sale, a Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business. She died at the age of 93 in 2002.

Mark-Rothko-PhotoMark Rothko

Mark Rothko - Seagram MuralsMark Rothko

Mark RothkoMark Rothko

Mark Rothko, an Abstract Expressionist painter and printmaker, was born in 1903 in Dvinsk, Russia. His original name was Marcus Rothkovich, and his hometown is now part of the modern state of Latvia. Rothko was a pioneer of the style of the 1950s and 1960s called colour field theory in which large areas of colour decorate the whole canvas. The field of colour implies that the forms move beyond their borders into infinity. In “Untitled Work” (1955), the artist uses three rectangles (red, black, and white on yellow) to create a colour composition on the picture. Rothko painted many rectangle compositions, and in his final years he painted contemplative murals at Houston’s Rothko Chapel. Rothko died in 1970.

Abstract art offers many more examples of the artist’s partial or complete departure from representational technique, and it thrives in the post-Modern world.




Before the Gothic Period in northern Europe, the kind of art and architecture that was flourishing was called Romanesque. Romanesque art is the art of Europe of the era from approximately 1000 AD to the rise of the Gothic style in the 13th century, or later, depending on region. The preceding period is known as the Pre-Romanesque period. The term was invented by 19th-century art historians, especially for Romanesque architecture, which retained many basic features of Roman architectural style – most notably round-headed arches, but also barrel vaults, apses, and acanthus-leaf decoration – but had also developed many very different characteristics. In Southern France, Spain and Italy there was an architectural continuity with the Late Antique, but the Romanesque style was the first style to spread across the whole of Catholic Europe, from Sicily to Scandinavia. Romanesque art was also greatly influenced by Byzantine art, especially in painting, and by the anti-classical energy of the decoration of the Insular art of the British Isles. From these elements was forged a highly innovative and coherent style.


The expansion of monasticism was the main force behind the unprecedented artistic and cultural activity of the eleventh and twelfth century. New orders were founded, such as the Cistercian, Cluniac, and Carthusian, and monasteries were established throughout Europe. Writing in the early eleventh century, the Burgundian historian Radulfus Glaber described a “white mantle of churches” rising over “all the earth.” Stimulated by economic prosperity, relative political stability, and an increase in population, this building boom continued over the next two centuries. Stone churches of hitherto unknown proportions were erected to accommodate ever-larger numbers of priests and monks, and the growing crowds of pilgrims who came to worship the relics of the saints (Sainte-Foy at Conques). Adapting the plan of the Roman basilica with a nave, lateral aisles, and apse, these churches typically have a transept crossing the nave, and churches on the pilgrimage road included an ambulatory (a gallery allowing the faithful to walk around the sanctuary) and a series of radiating chapels for several priests to say Mass concurrently. For the first time since the fall of the Roman empire, monumental sculpture covered church facades, doorways, and capitals (Last Judgment, Tympanum, Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne; Standing Prophet, Moissac). Monumental doors, baptismal fonts, and candleholders, frequently decorated with scenes from biblical history, were cast in bronze, attesting to the prowess of metalworkers. Frescoes were applied to the vaults and walls of churches (Temptation of Christ, San Baudelio de Berlanga, 61.248). Rich textiles and precious objects in gold and silver, such as chalices and reliquaries, were produced in increasing numbers to meet the needs of the liturgy and the cult of the saints. The new monasteries became repositories of knowledge: in addition to the Bible, the liturgical texts, and the writings of the Latin and Greek Church Fathers, their scriptoria copied the works of classical philosophers and theoreticians, as well as Latin translations of Arabic treatises on mathematics and medicine. Glowing illuminations often decorated the pages of these books and the most eminent among them were adorned with sumptuous bindings.


Gothic Art

Victoria and Albert Museum_hdr-gothic2-415Early Gothic Art from the collection in Victoria & Albert Museum

Born of the Romanesque movement, Gothic art developed in France by the middle of the twelfth century. Both Gothic art and architecture spread throughout Western Europe though Gothic style had a somewhat lesser influence south of the Alps, particularly in Italy where classical influences still reigned strong. Gothic art maintained its popularity in Europe until the sixteenth century when it began to wane as Renaissance art began to replace it in popularity.

The hallmarks of Gothic art include such forms as sculpture, paintings (on panels), stained glass, and illuminated manuscripts. Fresco was also an important media for Gothic artists. Because Gothic art differed immensely from classical art, it was frequently labelled barbaric. Gothic art, however, witnessed the birth of trade guilds; painters’ guilds kept significant records of artists for the first time in history. During the Gothic period cities grew and universities were founded making the Gothic movement a pivotal period in European history.

4Ceiling of the East Nave, Reims Cathedral

Gothic art was first witnessed in sculpture, particularly the monumental sculptures of cathedrals or even abbeys. Art historians have traced the first examples of Gothic sculpture to the Ile-de-France’s St. Denis Abbey built around the year 1140. This structure was followed by the famed Chartres Cathedral constructed around the year 1145. Gothic art, also known as French art, spread to Germany. The Bamberg Cathedral, completed around 1225, is a prime example of Gothic art in Germany and at the time of its construction the movement had begun to spread throughout the western continent.

Gothic painting did not surface until half a decade after Gothic architecture and sculpture began. As with Christian and Romanesque painting, Gothic painting featured heavily in the frescos of churches. The painting of stained glass and the illumination of manuscripts were also essential forms of Gothic painting. By the fifteenth century panel painting became an important medium for painting.

The subjects of Gothic art were often religious in nature, but the period also marks an interest in secular art. As literacy rates improved and more and more people could patronize the arts, additional subject matter came to light. Scenes often, however, depicted narratives of Biblical stories. The Madonna, a less iconic and more human woman, figured strongly into Gothic art. Religious subject matter covered churches and cathedrals and was also expressed in metalwork and tapestry.

800px-Duccio_maesta1021Maesta by Duccio, Siena

The Gothic period was also famous for its artistic and architectural innovations such as the flying buttress and pointed arch which allowed builders to construct taller cathedrals with bigger spaces for glasswork making these structures appear lighter than previous ones. Some prime examples of Gothic art include the fifteenth-century altar-piece of St. Mary’s Church in Krakow, Ulmer Munster’s Garden of Gethsemane, and the Adoration of the Magi of the Strasbourg Cathedral. Some important Gothic artists include Fra Angelico (1395-1455), Simone Martini (1285-1344), Bonaventura Berlinghieri (1215-1242), and Giottino (1320-1369).

Art History


We, the Early Works Art Gallery want to keep a weekly section on art history and welcome all readers and followers of our site to write in and participate in discussions that the points would throw up.


timeless in life. Some say that the very essence of existence and also what is most precious to us is captured by artists and admired by everyone forever.


There is a subtle difference between Art History and the History of Art. Wikipedia defines the first as:
“… the study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style.[1] This includes the “major” arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture as well as the “minor” arts of ceramics, furniture, and other decorative objects.”
The History of Art, on the other hand, is defined as:
“… the history of any activity or product made by humans in a visual form for aesthetical or communicative purposes, expressing ideas, emotions or, in general, a worldview. Over time visual art has been classified in diverse ways, from the medieval distinction between liberal arts and mechanical arts, to the modern distinction between fine arts and applied arts, or to the many contemporary definitions, which define art as a manifestation of human creativity. The subsequent expansion of the list of principal arts in the 20th century reached to nine: architecture, dance, sculpture, music, painting, poetry (described broadly as a form of literature with aesthetic purpose or function, which also includes the distinct genres of theatre and narrative), film, photography and graphic arts. In addition to the old forms of artistic expression such as fashion and gastronomy, new modes of expression are being considered as arts such as video, computer art, performance, advertising, animation, television and videogames.

In summation, we can look to the well-written peroration from
Art history spans the entire history of humankind, from prehistoric times to the twenty-first century. Whether you like to observe caveman paintings or Botticelli angels, you can find visual arts that challenge your creative side and inspire you to find beauty in manmade forms.

In modern times, art history has emerged as a discipline that specializes in teaching people how to evaluate and interpret works of art based on their own perspective. Art history has frequently been criticized for its subjectivity because the definition of what is beautiful varies from individual to individual. Learning to evaluate what you see by building on the art forms you already know can develop your aesthetic understanding.