The Rise of Civilization.
The first structures of civilization appeared in Mesopotamia. Region is situated between two rivers, Tigris and Euphrates, also known as a Fertile Crescent. In the fourth millennium emerged the first urban communities. There were many social groups succeeding each other in the development of civilized world. The first and most significant were Sumerians, responsible for many innovations, such as writing (cuneiform), first literary creations (Epic of Gilgamesh), pottery’s wheel (leading to wheeled vehicles), arithmetic, calendar, bronze, copper, armory, and many others. Furthermore, Sumerians, with institutionalization of communities, cities planning, building temples (ziggurats), and their mythology, created an excellent cultural background that was an inspiration for other cultures to follow. Sumerian art, mysterious in forms and nature (large eyes, particular shape of heads) is documented and glorified many aspects of their lives.
Sumerians were followed by Akkadians (Semitic in origin – first time king; Narum-Sin, shown as a God on the victory stele), Neo-Sumerians (tried to restructure their ancient greatness – construction of the largest ziggurat in Mesopotamia, Ur), Babylonians (King Hammurabi created the first civil code immortalized in basalt stele), Hittites (Anatolian people – characteristic rough stone walls, first time the entrances were protected by guardian beasts), Assyrians (Citadel of Sargon – war and hunting as a main subject of Assyrian art), Neo-Babylonians( restoration of Babylon to the most beautiful ancient city – Ishtar Gate ), Persians (Citadel of Persepolis – great achievement corresponding with Persian aspirations, first time used entire body profile for sculpting models), Sasanians (King Shapur’s Palace in Ctesiphon – blind arcades, in every aspect the art reflected the wealth of Sasanian rulers). Each of those specific periods contributed to the progressive development of art in Near East in the early stages of civilization.
Pharaohs and The After Life.
The Art history of Egypt and Egyptians as sophisticated civilization begins with the first samples of wall paintings and pottery dated around 3500 BC. Egyptians were known as great builders of most extraordinary constructions, such as Pyramids (enormous stone build tombs and objects of cult for deceased Pharaohs – believed to be the only connection between God and people – contrary to Sumerians constructing ziggurats for worshiping and contact with God). Egyptians created a life after death in other form than human body. Their mythology was created in order to support their believes in spiritual life. Therefore, mummification was a process of great importance for preparation to the life after life. Egyptians invented their own writing in form of hieroglyphs, and first alphabet, papyrus scroll (early paper), astronomical calendar, engineering and many others. The Egyptian Art, very synthetic in forms, deeply symbolic, unconventional in structure and colors, reflecting the reality and believes of their contemporaries.
The development of Egyptian art is closely associated with few specific periods related to the 31 Dynasties of Egyptian Kings (2920 BC – 332 BC). The Prehistoric and Early Dynastic period brought the unification of Egypt by King Narmer (Pallets of King Narmer – one of the oldest works preserved), construction of first graves Mastaba and Stepped Pyramids in Djoser (first appearance of stone columns in form of papyrus).
One of the three most significant periods in Egypt history The Old Kingdom was marked by construction of the biggest pyramids yet in Gizeh (Menkaure-2490-72 BC, Khafre-2520-2494 BC, and Khufu-2551-2528 BC) with decorative and narrative frescos, relief painting, and sculptures. The Middle Kingdom, marked by wars and social instability, brought first rock-cut tombs (Beni Hasan – 1950-1900 BC) replacing The Old Kingdom Mastabas. The New Kingdom, artistically and architecturally, was the greatest period in art history of Egypt. Majestic mortuary temples were built in Thebes (Deir el-Bahri – XVIII Dynasty), Abu Simbel (Temple of Ramses II with colossal exterior and pillar statues), and Karnak (temple of Amen-Re with enormous sunken relief’s painted columns). The frescos from this particular period were less static and more elaborated in forms and colors. The Amarna Period, short but significant, introduce completely different style characterized by more realistic, less formal images of ruling
King Akhenaton, creator of his own God Aton (represented as sun-disc) and his wife Queen Neferetiti. The discovery of Tutankhamen grave (1922 in his original state) is the best confirmation of the originality and excellence of the Egyptian Art.
Minos and The Heroes of Homer.
Before archeological discoveries in XIX century to our knowledge about early Greek settlements were known from Homer’s literary works (Iliad, Odyssey) and were considered pure fiction. The early stages of development of Ancient Aegean (first establishments may date as early as Lower Paleolithic and with villages establishments in Neolithic period, but their Hey Days came after 2nd millennium BC) were divided on three geographical areas. Each of them marked specifically the artistic evolution in all aspects of everyday life of those early western societies. The Cycladic Art (from Cycladic Islands) is preserved mostly in ruins of early settlements and marble figurines. The purpose and the symbolic meaning of their extremely stylistic and modern forms are purely speculative.
The Minoan Art (concentrated on the Island of Crete) characterized by The Palace Culture proceeded by small separated settlements in 3rd millennium BC started in the beginning of 2nd millennium BC (Middle Minoan Period). The elaborated architectural structures, which were build and rebuilt (after 1700 BC) are the best prove of well-organized social and cultural society. The Palaces were well planned in their functionality (Knossos Palace is the best preserved existing example: columns with distinctive Shafts and cushion like Capitals, drainage of a rain water with terracotta pipes). The construction of Palaces (Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, Kato Zakro, Khania) contributed largely to the development of mural frescos (in contrast to Egyptians, Knossos frescos were realized in the true wet fresco technique, example: La Parisienne-1450/1400 BC, Bull-leaping-1450/1400 BC-Knossos), pottery (Kamares Ware-Phaistos 1700 BC, Harvester Vase-Hagia Triada 1500 BC, Octopus Jar-Palaikastro-1500 BC), and sculpture (Snake Goddes-Knossos-1600 BC, Young God?-Palaikastro-1500/1475 BC). The Minoan frescos were well known and greatly appreciated by their contemporaries (first strictly decorative painting-Spring fresco-1650 BC- Acrotiri/Thera).
The Mycenaean Art emerged in 1500BC. Influenced by Minoan culture it was flourishing on the mainland of Greece. The characteristic massive Citadels (Thiryns, Orchomenos, Pylos) were constructed mainly in defensive structure (heavy and primitive, but effective) incomparable to The Minoan Palaces. The discovery of The Treasure of Atreus (Myceanae) revealed the funeral practice of Mycenaean (women buried with jewelry man with their armory, faces covered with gold masks). The rough character of Mycenaean Art (architecture, sculpture, pottery painting) was reflecting the specific time of constant wars. In conclusion, the achievements of those early civilizations are seen as the first steps towards The Western Civilization, leaving significant heritage on the road to The Western Art.
Gods, Heroes, and Athletes.
In the beginning of 800 BC (after the dark ages of political instability and lost of contact with the outside world) Classical Greece began to form its shape. The reviving economy had direct impact on the significant cultural development of Greek society (pottery painting, sculpture, philosophy, architecture, Greek humanism). The early Greece was a composition of independent cities and kingdoms. The Dorians (Doric order) settled in Peloponnesus, and The Ionians (Ionic order) on the islands and the west coast of modern Turkey. The progressive thinking and cooperation between the cities brought the establishment of first Olympic games in Olympia (Peloponnesus) in 776 BC. With the further development of Greek humanism (Democracy) and constantly growing economic strength, Athens becomes a city of great importance (Pericleous) and a symbol of Ancient Greek Culture. All those significant changes were reflected in the development of philosophy (Socrates, Plato), literature (Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Aeschylus), history (Herodotus), first Western Law Code (Draco), architecture (Iktinos, Kallikrates-Parthenon-harmonious numerical rathios/symmetria, Polikleitos The Younger-Epidauros), sculpture (Kritios, Myron, Polikleitos-Prescription for Perfect Statue, Phidias, Praxiteles-first naked woman statue/Aphrodite, Skopas-expresive look of the face, Lyssipos-New Canon of Perfect Proportions, Epigonos, Alexandros of Antioch-Venus Milo, Polyeuktos, Athanadoros), pottery painting (Kleitias, Exekias-Black Figure, Andokides-Bilingual Painting, Euphronios-Red Figure, Euthymides-Viewpoint, Onesimos-first naked woman), and many others. The Greeks created The Gods (Mythology) with human characteristics and physiognomy. Most of their artistic creativity evolved around their Mythology.
The development of Greek Art is divided by few important periods succeeding each other in multitude areas of artistic creativity. The Geometric Period (800 BC) brings back human figure in synthetic geometric forms in pottery paintings and sculpture. The Orientalizing Art inspired by exposure to Near Easter and Egyptian cultures reflects in constructions of first Temples (Prinias-625 BC), as well as the new approach to the pottery painting and sculpture. The Archaic Period is advancing in exploration of human body in sculpture (first naked statue in their approximate realistic forms-archaic smile), architecture (construction of bigger and better planned Temples-Temple of Hera, development of two principal styles-Doric/Ionic-Caryatid), architectural sculpture (decoration of Pediments and Friezes), and further progress in pottery painting (Black Figure, Bilingual, and Red Figure Styles). The Early and High Classical Periods were marked by the removal of Persian threat and rising of The Greek Civilization to the highest level in every aspect of socio-political existence. With progressive economy and growing importance of Athens as an essential Center of Greek Civilization rebound in new architectural constructions (Parthenon–447-438 BC-Pericles-ideal Temple proportions) and additional development in sculpture and pottery painting, as well as in philosophy and literature. The Late Classical Period brought new directions and more individual approach to the art (Praxiteles–first naked statue of woman, Lyssipos-three dimensional sculptures). With further socio-political changes (Greeks united under Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great) beside the continuous progress in architecture (introduction of Corinthian Order, Theatre Epidauros), new forms of art emerge in evidence-Mosaic paintings (Gnosis, Philoxenos of Eretria), influenced by eastern cultures. The Hellenic Period started with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and lasted until 31 BC.
Breaking the old rules in architecture (Temple of Apollo), and art in general brought more freedom and sophistication in Hellenic culture. The sculptures were concentrating on reality of portraying situations (Epigonos, Alexandros of Antioch, Polyeuktos, Athandoros).
In summary, The Greek heritage of great and progressive society in every aspect of life and revolutionary human thinking become one of the most important basic ingredient to further development of The Western Civilization.
Italy before The Romans.
The Etruscan Civilization (independent cities) geographically situated in central Italy (Etruria, Villanovan) between two rivers Arno and Tiber (region known as today’s Tuscany), brought another individual form of architecture, sculpture and painting, to The History of Art. Influenced by Greek art and architecture, Etruscans developed their own easy recognizable style and character, including revolutionary (in those times) customs of women’s participation in social gatherings. The evolution of Etruscan art and social structure is divided on two particular periods.
The Early Etruscan Art (Orientalizing Art and Archaic Art and Architecture) begun in early 7th century. The expansion of mining (iron, tin, cooper, silver) encouraged the economic growth, and exchange of culture, and goods between neighboring civilizations reflected in development of art with oriental influences. The Etruscans imposed their own specific approach to the construction of Temples (mud bricks, wooden columns-Tuscany Order), underground Tombs (Tumulus-Banditaccia Necropolis-700-200 BC), sculpture (terracotta as basic material, sarcophagus statues, Apulu statue, Vulca the only known Etruscan artist,) wall decorative paintings and stucco relieves.
The Later Etruscan Art (Classical Art, Etruscan Art and the rise of Rome) started in 5th century (golden age for Greece). For Etruscans it was a beginning of the end of their independency. The growing power of Rome dissolved the Etruscan territories. The Etruscan artists however, left their mark little longer on the West Civilizations, because of their particularity (The Capitoline wolf, Chimera of Arezzo, Porta Marzia, Arringatore statue).
From Seven Hills to three Continents.
The legendary foundation of Rome (April 21,753 BC) on the Palatine Hill by Romulus (one of two brothers-Romulus and Remus) as a first king, and progressive conquest of neighboring kingdoms, reflected in fast growth importance of The City of Seven Hills. The Great Roman Empire with solid influenced fundaments of Greek and Etruscan civilizations begun with overthrowing the last Etruscan king and formation of constitutional government in form of Roman Republic. Intensive expansion of Roman territories rebounded in immense economic growth, having direct impact on many aspects of socio-cultural development of society (Patricians, Plebeians, Slaves). The invention of concrete construction (cement) permitted a new approach of endless possibilities in architectural constructions (Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia, Amphitheater Pompeii, Pont-du-Garde, Colosseum, Forum of Trajan, Markets of Trajan, Pantheon, Baths of Caracalla). Along with new possibilities in architecture, emerge new innovative tendencies in mural painting (the art of creating imitations and illusions, painted stucco forms, decorative walls, mural painted galleries), sculpture (psychologically scientific portraits-Head of the Roman Patrician, reproduction of realistic shapes-Flavian Woman-drilling methods, Markus Aurelius, Portrait of Caracalla, Heroic Portrait of Trebonianus Gallus, Portrait of Vespasian), in relieves (extortion of heads and body parts in order to create three dimensional impression). The Roman impressive growth in many areas evolved in capability to absorb the best from other civilizations (Greek, Etruscan, Near East, Egypt) in order to create their own monumental (eclectic) style in art, architecture, socio-economic structure, military tactics and many others. This extraordinary evolution of Roman Empire is divided into few particular periods.
The Republic Period, with annexation of new territories brought significant cultural enrichment in Roman creativity: architecture (temples-Fortuna Virilis, sanctuaries-Fortuna Primigenia), sculpture (commemorative portraits of ancestors placed at homes, portraits of distinguished personalities, coin portraits introduced by Cesar-previously done by Greeks).
The Pompeii and The Cities of Vesuvius. The excavations brought further knowledge about this particular period in Roman Empire and its artistic heritage. In 80 BC, after long opposition of Pompeii against inclusion to Roman Empire, Sula finally founded a new colony. The unfortunate events of volcano eruption (Mont Vesuvius-79 BC), and later earthquake (62 BC) cause extensive damages to the great city of precursory art of painted walls (imitations and illusions), and sculpture, so characteristic to The Pompeii and cities around Vesuvius. The Republic Period is divided into four important styles in Roman Art. The First Style is direct inclusion of Greek influences (painted stucco relieves).
The Second Style is characterized by illusionism (three dimensional world, linear perspective). The Third Style significant for elegance and economic composition of decoratively painted walls. The Fourth Style was marked by wall painted galleries of composite elements with Mythological themes (the Ixion Room at the house of Vetti, Domus Aurea-Golden House), first illustrated book of Virgil poems (400-420 CE), privet family portraits, still life paintings (with shadows), and elaborated mosaics (House of Neptune and Amphitrite).
The Early Empire followed the assassination of Jules Cesar (44 BC), which resulted in 13 years of struggle for power. After suicide of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony (Egypt become the Roman colony) the victorious Augustus on Octavian (27 BC-14 CE passage of Roman Republic to The Roman Empire) brought peace (The Pax Romana) and prosperity to Roman Empire. The peaceful times permitted further evolution in construction area (Pont-du-Gard, aqueducts), architecture (constructions in marble, arches and other glorifying monuments), sculpture (return to idealization for propaganda purpose, creation of depth in relieves by projecting out the front figures), painting (wildly spread of idealistic portraiture), and in many other aspects of everyday life.
The Flavians Period (69-96 CE) enriched even more the already great collection of Roman monumental constructions by Colosseum (70-80 CE-an engineering marvel), Arch of Titus, and many others. In sculpture we observe realistic approach in men as well as women portraits, emphasizing on hair details (drilling) and age of the subject.
The High Empire (Trajan-first not Roman emperor-98-117 CE) brought to Rome a Hay Days in every aspect of life. Geographically the Empire came to maximal growth. Architecturally, great structures were build as Forum of Trajan (112 CE), Column of Trajan (112 CE), Arch of Trajan (114-118 CE), restoration of Circus Maximus, and many others. There was a synthetic symbolic approach in sculpture, especially in funeral relieves. Hadrian (117-138 CE) successor of his fellow man (Spaniard as Trajan) contributed in further progress in many directions of already flourishing Roman Empire. In architecture emerged new monumental constructions, such as Pantheon (118-125 CE), Al-Khazneh (Treasury-Petra-2nd century-sculpted in rock as previously Egyptians did-Beni Hasan, Ramses II), Ostia (first complex of public apartments), where rooms were decorated with painted walls, ceilings, and mosaic floors. In funeral art (workers tombs), there is growing tendency for commemorating relieves of death family members, mounted on the walls of the houses.
The Antonines Period (follower of Hadrian succession-138-192 CE) reflected in conceptual changes in building an allegoric commemorative monuments braking with classical conventions (Column of Antoninus Pius-161 CE, Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius-exaggerated proportions of human body in comparison to animal, sculpted portrait of Marcus Aureliu-philosophical in nature). This period marked a transition from cremation to burial practices, started already earlier (sarcophagus-sculpted with the themes from Greek Mythology as most popular, encaustic painting-previously used in Greek statues and Egyptian mummies).
The Late Empire begins with The Severans Period (193-235 CE-very active builders-The Baths of Caracalla-212-216 CE-biggest ever yet constructed). Septimus Severus (African Emperor) ruled during the decline of economy and social structures of Roman Empire, growing Eastern Cults, and Christianity. In consequence many changes were on the way. The sculpted non-realistic frontal position in relieves was the first sign of upcoming Medieval Style (Non Classical Style emerged). The Post Severan Period characterize with constant civil wars, lasted almost half century. The burial practice becomes very common and Non Classical approach in sculpture started (Trebonianus Gallus statue-251-253 CE). Growing role of philosophy reflects in philosophical sarcophagus relieves (very common in tondo shape images-painted portrait of Septinius Severus and his family-200 CE). The decline respect for Classical Art in architecture is shown in construction of The Temple of Venus (Baalbec-3rd century).
The Diocletian and the Tetrarchy (284-306 EC) increase further synthetic simplifications in sculpture (portrait of four tetrarchs-red marble, porphyry-305 CE).
This period marked the apparition of Fortresses Palaces (Diocletian Split-300-305 CE) as indicator of drastic changes in structure of Roman Empire.
The Constantine Period (first Christian Emperor-306-337 CE) stopped the prosecution of Christians (Edict of Milan-313 CE) and recognized Christianity (325 CE) as official religion of Roman Empire. After long internal conflicts brought progressive changes in many aspects of life including architecture (Basilica Nova-306-312 CE, Aula Palatina-4th century, construction of first Christian church-St-Peter), sculpture (Colossal sculpture of Constantine-Impressive portrait of absolute ruler-315-330 CE, in relieves schematic and symbolic approach, numismatic portraits of Constantine), paintings, mosaics. During The Constantine Period, we observe the evident transition from Classical to Medieval art.
Trough the ages Roman Civilization nourished with mosaic cultures left enormous heritage in multitude architectural structures, sculpture, and painting.
No other Ancient Civilization has left so much for the present to admire.
Pagans, Christians, and Jews.
The Multiculturalism of Roman Empire is consisted of different religious groups. Majority of population rejected Roman Polytheism. The perception of God differ by those groups was related to their cultural backgrounds. For all Pagans (according to empire rules) fractions, three had the most important influences in Roman Empire, Christians, Jews , and Islam. All three had written records, Bible, Torah, Koran. The most active in the out posted regions of Roman Empire were Christians and Jews (Dura-Europos). Each of them began to organize themselves, adopting their houses for the worshiping. Many of those first establishments were decorated with paintings illustrated themes from Old Testament (Synagogue at Dura-Europos) where image of God was represented in form of hand coming out from the sky. Each of those particular religious groups developed their own specific style in mural painting. Christianity by simple iconographic images with stylizes figures, Jews and Islam in purely decorative, ornamental compositions. The Early Christian Art developed with burial practices. Christians rejected cremation and before Christianity was officially recognized, started the construction of Catacombs (underground cemeteries) decorated with simple mural paintings with the religious stories. When Christianity became official religion of Roman Empire and with the adoption by Romans Christian burial practices, the Sarcophagus Art emerged. Most Sarcophagus were decorated from three sides, with relieves illustrating biblical themes. The first sculptures were executed in the spirit of still existing classical forms. However, those statues vanished from Early Christianity as they were considered as reference to the Roman cult sculptures. Along with adoption of Christian religion, the construction of first churches begun (St-Pieter, St-Sabina, St-Costanza, Galla Placidia, St-George). With construction of churches the decorative art developed in form of mosaic. From the beginning with classical influences (shadowing), than later in much simplified forms. Growing importance of Christianity reflected in first illustrated manuscripts, and variety of small utility portable objects (relics-first known image representing crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cover of Ivory box-420 CE). Growing importance of Christianity resulted in abolishment of Olympic games in 394 CE. The Christian religion officially recognized and sponsored by Constantine influenced a new approach in artistic style and composition in paintings, mosaics, and architecture.
Rome in the East.
With adoption of Christianity Constantine created New Rome (324CE), called Byzantium, from the name of ancient Greek city Byzantium, which he named Constantinople, after himself. The imposition of Orthodox order caused bitter resistance from Rome and in consequence separation of Empire and Christianity on The East and The West. The development of Byzantium is divided on four particular periods.
Early Byzantium – (527-726), with Justinian and Theodora.
Iconoclasm – (726-843), with Leo III.
The Middle Byzantium – (843-1204), Basil I.
Late Byzantium – (1204-1453).
Early Byzantium Art.
The restoration of empire was the most important issues, which preoccupied the rulers after official division with Rome. Generally speaking, Constantine reorganized Christianity in the beginning of 4th century, Theodosius established it as Roman Empire official religion in the end of 4th century, and Justinian proclaimed it as New Rome in the 6thcentury. During all this period important changes were maid in creation of new Civil Law Cod, which was a foundation of new law-style for many modern European nations.
In art we observe a glorification of Justinian conquests. In architecture new style of posing Domes (Pendentives, Squinches) emerged with the construction of the hallmark of Byzantium engineering the church of Hagia Sophia (Anthemius and Isydorus 532-537CE – 1453 became Mosque) as a symbol of the Greatness of Christianity. Many other churches were built (St-Vitale, St-Apollinaris). Byzantium style becomes an ideal way to conveying complexes symbolism of Christian Dogma. Monastic movement emerged in Egypt in the 4th and 5th century (St-Anthony and St-Pochomios), for those who preferred more spiritual way of life. In 5th century Mary was recognized as a mother of God (Theotokos). Dioskorides wrote first Medicinal Olants Manual with 498 illustrations and thousand pages.
Leo III banned all iconographic art as he concluded loosing his battle was a punishment for iconographic art. During this period we observe a development of strictly decorative art.
After 843CE the iconographic art returned with great creativity and impact, with further inventions in style and composition, depending on the region. Some returned to the classical roots, as in illustrations of Paris Psalter. The icon painting progressed in it’s particular form of stylize abstraction (Vladimir Virgin-11 and 12 century). Characteristic Byzantium icon gain on importance with spiritual and protective power is attached to them. In architecture: new approach in creating of space and atmosphere in churches, including elaborated mosaics (Christos Pantokrator, Dormition church, Daphnie-1090-1100CE, St-Mark, Venice-1063CE).
Late Byzantium Art.
Braking of the Byzantium church with Roman, brought the Crusades in Holy Land against the Saracens (Muslims).The Crusades took over the Constantinople including their wealth. Empire split in three small states. Continues struggles with surrounded enemies, and isolated from Christian world, Constantinople felt in 1453CE to the hands of Turk Muslims. During the battles to preserve the Byzantium Empire, the architecture of churches was changed in more dramatic structures. With additional domes on the sides including one higher dome in the center, and filled up completely with paintings. Mosaics were replaced with elaborated mural iconography, characteristic floating figures with particular depiction of draperies as reflection of Greco-Roman illusionism. The painting of icons developed rapidly in style and esthetic approach, as their functionality in religious processing appeared. With the fall of Constantinople the iconographic art moved further northeast to Russia in order to flourish to the great extend.
Byzantium Art developed not only in paintings and architecture, but also in other areas as Priest clothing and many decorative objects (candelabras, frames, jewelry, books, enamels, crosses, sacred vessels, procession banners, and many others). With Byzantium moving to Russia as Third Rome, the artistic development slow down and preserved the old iconographic style, which continued to grow on new ground. In those tumultuous times of struggle for power, The Byzantium Art lasted for millennium, long enough to make a great impact on the Western culture.
In Praise of Allah.
At the beginning of 7th century new religion emerged from the people of Arabian Peninsula, called Islam (submission to God-Mahomet 622CE). Because of its particular character Islam played significant role in unification of Arabs (nomad tribes). Replacing by Mahomet (Prophet) the Old order with new social structure resulted in great expansion of Arabs, first in the Near East, than North Africa, Spain, and far North in the Mediterranean, and East-North side of Russia. Islamic influences have reflected in Architecture, Art, and many other levels of social structures. The beauty of a massif and extremely elaborated constructions (Mosques) decorated with Arabesques mosaics, represents completely different and innovative approach to the faith and God. The great expansion of Arab culture had a great impact on the world. Arabs were the creators and developers in many subjects, as for example: arithmetic’s, algebra, medicine, astronomy, and natural science. The artistic creations in Islamic culture is deeply associated and inspired by the spiritual sources of religious believes. The enormous Mosque spaces are covered with perfectly arranged and executed Arabesque ornaments, creating a particular atmosphere for worshipers and individual contact with God.
We distinguish two principal periods in development of Islamic Art.
The Early Islamic Art, characterized with the expansion of Islam and Arabs rules in Near East (Fertile Crescent of Ancient Mesopotamia), and constantly spreading to the neighboring territories, brought first architectural, and artistic constructions (Dome of The Rock, 687-692). Roman temples and churches were adopted for Mosques, by redesigning the interiors and exteriors, by adding minarets (Great Mosque, Damascus, 706-715). The new constructions started to appear, shaping the landscapes of the cities with their particular, beautifully decorated Domes and Minarets (The Great Mosque, Cordoba, Spain, 961-965), along with architectural development of the art of textile, and their abstract Arabesque patterns of extreme complexity. The art of calligraphy (ornamental writing) evolved in many forms (Kufi-Kufah). The Arabic script (written from right to the left), which predicates Islam, elaborated in Koran pages and mosaics with Mahomet verses as extraordinary beauty and complexity of decorative art.
Later Islamic Art.
The growing power of Christianity (territorial re-conquest) in south parts of Europe, forced slowly The Arabic Dynasties withdraw further to the south, and with the Mongol invasion from the north-east, the Centrum of Islamic culture moved to Egypt (The Mamluks). Cairo becomes the largest Muslim City in the late middle Ages. In Spain the Islamic presents left in Granada beautiful Palace of Lions with extraordinary Muqarnas Dome in The Hall of two sisters (1354-1391CE). In Cairo The Mamluks were prolific builders, constructing the Madrasa – Mosque mausoleum, complex of Sultan Hassan, one of the most ambitious figures of Islam History. In Turkey the Ottomans Dynasty built Mosque with different architectural approach with square hall covered with the Dome, as a core. It becomes a dominant style for mosques builders in Iran and Turkey (transformation of Hagia Sophia church into mosque after fall of Constantinopol-1453 CE). During the Ottoman Dynasty, the mosque of Selim II was built with entirely new concept of the multitude of small Domes attached to the main central Dome. The mosque constructions reflected in future development in mosaic techniques such as mosaic tilework, extremely detailed and time-consuming ceramic calligraphy (Koran verses-Mihrab, Madrasa-1354CE). The Islamic Art developed also in manuscripts painting, ceramics, textiles, (Maqsud of Kashan carpet-1540CE, Book of Kings-1525-1535CE), clothing (ceremonial caftan), and metal work. During the crusades the Islamic Art for Christians emerged as a souvenir item.
The Islamic culture brought completely different, very particular and innovative style of architectural constructions as well as artistic creativity, so incomparable to anything created before. That’s why it has a special place in the development process of Art History of the World.
Europe after the fall of Rome.
After the fall of Roman Empire many different cultural groups have appeared, sometimes merging together developing socio-political institutions or establishing their own areas of rules. All those early medieval civilizations of Western Europe represented a fusion of Christian and Greco-Roman heritage, and at the same time the foundations of future European nations. The migrating groups (Huns, Vandals, Merovingian, Francs, Goths, and others) were establishing themselves in one place, than pushed by others moved to different place. It was a period of territorial struggles, until the settlement of distinct cultural groups took place: Germanic, Francs, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Saxons, Norse, Celts. The period from 400CE to 1400CE is considered as the Dark Ages in Art History.
During this specific time of feudalist system (possession of land for exchanged services) we distinguish few important artistic periods as the Art of the Warrior Lords, Hiberno-Saxon Art, Mozarabic Art, Carolingian Art, and Ottonian Art.
Art of the Warrior Lords.
There isn’t much left from those early medieval civilizations, except some small portable artistic objects found in burial places or sung burial ships (Merovingian looped fibula-mid 6th century, purse cover from the Sutton Hoo burial ship, cloisonné/enamel-625CE, animal head post, Viking burial ship-825CE).
With the establishments of first monasteries the art of manuscript books emerged (Benedictines order-529CE, Benedict of Norsia, St-Benedict). In 432CE St-Patrick established church in Ireland, and in 563CE St-Columba founded important monastery of Iona (on Scottish Island), followed by Lindisfarne monastery established in 635CE. From those and others built later appeared a Hiberno-Saxon book art (manuscript Book of Durrow-660-680CE, Lindisfarne Gospels-698-721CE, Book of Kells-llate 8th or early 9th century).
Mozarabic Art (Christians living on the Arab territories) developed in the monasteries on the Iberian peninsula (first known image of scriptorium, Commentary on the Apocalypse-colophon, the tower and scriptorium of San Salvador de Tabara-970CE).
The King of Francs (768CE) and Emperor of Rome (800CE) Charles the Great (Charlemagne) with his ambitions to reestablish the Roman Empire, constructed many churches and sponsored the art of manuscript books (Gospel Book of Charlemagne-800-810CE, Gospel Book of Archbishop Ebbo of Reins-8816-835CE), and invited scholars to his court in order to spread the knowledge of art and classical culture. He initiated a project of rewriting the true text of the Bible and ordered to developed a new more compact and easily written Latin script, called Caroline minuscule. Charlemagne constructed churches in particular to him mix styles, foreshadow of the Romanesque character (Palatine Chapel of Charlemmagne-792-805CE, Westwork of the Abbey church-873-885CE).
The Ottonian Art.
After the death of Charlemagne and his successor (son Louis) the Empire was divided between fighting sons of Louis: Charles the Bold, Lothair, and Louis the German. In consequence the multitude of events occurred (invasion of Magyars, Vikings, Muslims) brought the end of The Carolingian Dynasty. In the mid of 10th century, in the eastern parts of former Empire new Saxon line of German Emperors came to power, The Ottons (Otton-I, Otton-II, and Otton-III). They regained the control of their territories, and recognized the Christian church (submitting to the Papacy). By the end of their dynasty (Henry II) the Christianization of Europe was completed. They preserved and enriched the Carolingian heritage by following in architecture, sculpture, and art of books their predecessors, building churches (St-Michael in Hildesheim, 1001-1031CE) with the first time in the west incorporated gallery between the ground floor arcade and the clerestory (very popular design in forthcoming Romanesque era). In sculpture, the relieve doors in bronze (1013CE) for the St-Michaels church (16 relieves from the Genesis of sins-8 from Old testament, and 8 from the New testament) executed in Hollow-casting technique. From the same period come also a column with the relieves about a life of Christ-1013-1022CE. The revival of monumental sculpture is visible in the crucifix commissioned by Archbishop Gero from Cologne cathedral-970CE. The Ottonian artists followed the Carolingian traditions in manuscript books production (Uta Codex-1025CE, Lectionary of Henry II-1002-1014CE). The Ottonians effort of reviving the Roman Empire never materialized but they left significant heritage in architecture, sculpture, and art of books for others to follow.
During the period of Dark Ages of constant territorial struggles between different cultural groups, the first shapes of future European nations were marked living us with some interesting architectural constructions. And the most important we have well preserved volumes of manuscripts with their elaborated finesse and beauty the great witnesses of early medieval times.
The Age of Pilgrimages.
The Romanesque style as a term describing the cultural evolution in many aspects of early stages of medieval period, first time was used in the early XIX century in order to describe the particularities of European culture from 11th to 12th century (Romanesque – Roman like, style with classical influences). Constantly growing trading between developing cities reflected in graduate replacement of feudalism as leading socio-political and economic systems. Increasing power of clergy was an important element of those ongoing changes. The expansion of Pilgrimages (Santiago de Compostela) resulted in massif construction of churches and monasteries. The growing faith in the power of relics and their veneration reached the highest point during the Romanesque period. Many great architectural constructions took place, mainly churches. Most of them built with stone vaults replacing the wooden roofs (for fire protection and better acoustic for chanting), rounded arches, compound columns, and solid masonry walls. In France the Romanesque style was reflected, among many others, in constructions such as: Saint-Etienne, Vignory-1050-1057 CE, Saint-Philibert, Tournus-1060 CE, Saint-Sernin, Toulouse-1070-1120 CE, and Cluny III, Cluny-1088-1130 CE (the largest church in Europe for over 500 years, where 300 monks were living between 11th and 12th century). Progressively the vaulting system evolved by adding more ribs, permitting father architectural creativity, reflected in elaborated vaulting compositions. Furthermore, exhaustive portals with their chevron ornaments appeared as important elements of Romanesque style.
At the end of 11th century, in Citeaux (eastern France), a group of Cluny III monks decided to return to the strict rule of St-Benedict (wearing white habits in contrast to black of Benedictine) in a protest against construction of expensive, elaborated, luxurious churches and reliquaries by clergy and Benedictine order, creating a new monastic formation in 1098, named Cistercians (Bernard Clairvaux-1090-1153 CE). Cistercians, emphasizing on poverty and prayers, promoting manual labor and farming, gain instant popularity, stimulating the agriculture transformation in Europe. Within 50 years over 500 churches were built. The architecture of Cistercian churches (Notre-Dame, Fonteney-1139-1147) was extremely simple, without elaborated architectural compositions and extravagant ornamentation.
The traveling populations in search for relics, or participating in Crusades, helped to spread the Romanesque style across Europe, influencing adaptation of Romanesque characteristics accordingly to the culturally and geographically different societies.
With blooming constructions of churches, further development in architectural composition took place. The use of groin vaults over a nave permitted to add clerestory windows, allowed more light to interior (Speyer Cathedral, Germany-1082-1106 CE).
The Lombard Romanesque is represented by Saint-Ambrogio church form 11th and 12th century, as one of the last having atrium build.
In Normandy the Romanesque style evolved in particular form, becoming the main source for French Gothic architecture (Saint-Etienne, Caen-1115-1120 CE).
The particular English Romanesque architecture is represented by Durham Cathedral (1093 CE) with the flying buttresses, as an important element of mature French Gothic style.
Another diversity of Romanesque manner appears in Tuscany. The Pisa Cathedral (1063-1174 CE) represents an innovatory approach to the architectural interpretation of Romanesque tendencies, as well as the Florence Baptistery (1059 CE) with a clear adoption of Roman Pantheon futures.
The particularity of Romanesque period was also reflected in reviving of sculpture. The sculpted elements of columns and wall relieves begun slowly gain their important place in architecture (portal and cloister of Saint-Pierre, Moissac, France-1100-1135 CE, Christ in Majesty, Saint-Sernin, Toulouse, France-1096 CE, temptation of Adam and Eve, Modena Cathedral, Italy-1110 CE, and the artists started signing their work.
The Romanesque period reflected also in further development of manuscript art permitting the first secular artists to emerge (Master Hugo, Burry Bible-1135 CE), and letting women to gain an important place (The vision of Hildegard of Bingen-1150-1179 CE). Furthermore, women were occupying important functions in secular life of Romanesque society (Countess Matilda of Canossa-1046-1115 CE, Eleanor of Aquitaine-1122-1204 CE).
The Romanesque period was omnipresent in many important aspects of medieval life, constructing necessary components for progressive development of Western Art.
The Age of Cathedrals.
The Gothic, considered by Italian Renaissance as monstrous and barbarous (Vasari-1511-1574 CE) was expending trough northern Europe. It was a period of great prosperity, and also 100 years of war between England and France (claim of Edward III King of England to the French throne), in addition was the Great Plague of Black Death devastated Western Europe. The progress of Gothic style depended on the territories where it was adopted in regard to the socio-cultural diversities.
The France, where Gothic begun (Ile-de-France, Saint-Denis Cathedral-1140 CE, Abbot Sugar) end developed to the highest levels. Many extraordinary architectural structures had been built. Most of them were churches and cathedrals. The further development of rib vaulting (pointed arches) permitted to diversify the vaulting and add bigger windows decorated with stained-glass, giving special lighting as well as making visually taller the vaulted ceilings. Such combination of pointed rib vaults, stained glass and central rose windows, were particular for early French Gothic Period. The style of portals in churches was characteristic to the Gothic manner, involving sculptural composition of columns (jamb statues), arcades (tympanums), and lintels (relieves). The Saint-Denis Cathedral (Ile-de-France-1140-1144 CE), Cathedral Chartres (1134-1194 CE), Amiens Cathedral (1220 CE), Laon Cathedral (1190 CE), Notre-Dame, Paris (1180-1225 CE), Reims Cathedral (1225-1290 CE), and Saint-Maclou, Rouen (1500-1514 CE) are just a few samples of many built in progressive Gothic style. Each of them marked a specific development of Gothic architecture in France. The Cult of Virgin Mary reached the highest point during the Gothic period and as result the Virgin Mary was most of the time the main subject depicted in Gothic sculptures, especially on portal compositions and later on the stained-glass windows. The statues columns were the first symbol of coming naturalism. In comparison to the Romanesque sculptures, the sculpted faces from Gothic period were more natural and lively. Progressively a new important element of Gothic style emerged, the triforium (the band of arcades below the clerestory). The introduction of flying buttresses (Notre-Dame, Paris) permitted to make bigger stained-glass windows, making visually lighter the heavy construction and adding distinctive look to the Gothic architecture, opening doors to the High Gothic spirit (Amiens, Chartres, and Reims Cathedrals).
During the High Gothic period, beginning in 13th century, the stained-glass windows were actually replacing the heavy walls, instead of being just an addition to it.
In Gothic sculpture the classical tendencies progressively appearing in depicting the human body. The faces of sculpted characters became realistic and the draperies are more naturally shaped in comparison to the Romanesque or Early Gothic sculptures. The slow return to the classical basics is evident. The best example to illustrate the highly elaborated Gothic style is the Amiens Cathedral (France), the real Gothic jewel of structural vocabulary: the rectangular-bay system, the four-part rib vault, and buttressing system. The Reims Cathedral (France) represents a further development of Gothic style, by replacing the stone sculpted tympanum with stained-glass ornaments and adding more animated sculpted characters, giving impression of living structure.
Beginning of 14th century marked the Late Gothic (Maclou church, Rouen, France-1500-1514 CE) style (known as Flamboyant architecture, reaching maturity in XV century), where the desire to build highest Cathedrals were replaced by the tendency for smaller but elaborated decoration of interior as well as exterior surfaces.
The Gothic style developed not only in Cathedral constructions but also in urban centers (Carcassonne 12th-13th century), civil buildings, Guild Halls (grouped organized professionals), books (manuscripts), luxury items, and many others. The towns were developing their own socio-cultural characteristics. The universities were built in order to attract the intellectual force. Poetry and music were blooming with medieval romantic of platonic love. New religious orders, Franciscans and Dominicans were created (Lois IX). Important changes appeared in manuscript books production. The art of monastic scribes shifted to urban workshops, where secular and religious books were maid. The church monopoly in the book production had came to the end.
The French Gothic expended to Western Europe in different forms, according to cultural diversities of different countries. In England the emphasis wasn’t on high but on transformation and adaptations of the variety of Gothic characteristics developing specific English style (fan vaults and agee arches-Salisbury Cathedral-1280-1330 CE). Such free interpretations concluded in creation of specific English Gothic style.
In Germany, Gothic was adopted for much longer time than in any other parts of Europe, some constructions lasted as long as 600 hundred years (Cologne Cathedral-1248-1880 CE). It is the largest Cathedral built in Western Europe with the longest nave (422 feet long) and accompanies aisles. The sculpted characters of Cologne Cathedral show progressive naturalism in depicting of human figures.
Italy’s Gothic is like nothing comparable with French, English or German, except some specific approach to the Gothic manner (Orvietto Cathedral-1310 CE, Doge’s Palace-1340-1345 CE), that’s why many scholars do not consider it as Gothic style.
The Cathedral of Milan (1386 CE) represents a mixture of Late Gothic and Renaissance elements. The short Gothic period in Italy was marked in many fields, especially in painting, evolving later in the birth of Renaissance style. This time Italy was on the way to be the leading force for the rest of Western Europe.
From Gothic to Renaissance.
Renaissance emerged at the beginning of XV century in Italy spreading fast trough Western Europe and lasted until XVI century. The progressive development of European cities reflected in many socio-cultural and political changes in societies. The constantly growing interest in natural world, science, and philosophy resulted in scholar and artistic circles increased interest in veneration of Classical principles, as the best example for regeneration of social structures and human values. The XV century Italy was composed from City-states. Each of them had their own rules and economy, developing appropriate specific industries of maritime trade, arms, textiles, banking, and many others. Those specific industries organized themselves in professional Guilds, which protected their interests.
The fast socio-economic growth in Europe slowed down by the Great Plague of Black Death (1340 CE). In some parts of Europe 25% to 50% of population vanished during five years. Italy suffered the most, as majority of population was leaving in clause range. In consequence it played significant role in Art (sacral) development, particularly painting, as many people commissioned the devotional images. The necessity of isolates the sick individuals from the healthy one resulted in construction of first hospitals.
During the early XIV century the French cardinals elected a French Pope (Clement V-1305 CE) who established himself in Avignon against the will of Rome. In consequence the second Pope was elected (Urban VI) in 1378). The Clement VII (was not considered by Rome as a Pope on official documents) resided successively in Avignon and Urban VI in Rome. Finally after 40 years of disagreement (Great Schism) the Holly Roman Emperor Sigismund managed to resolve the crisis by electing a new Pope (Martin V-1417-1431 CE) acceptable to all.
Trough the XIV century the Italian Vernacular literature expanded in audience searching for philosophical and intellectual conceptions, most of which were written in common Tuscan dialect (popular in Florence), accessible to many. The principal characters representing Vernacular (commonly spoken) literature were: Dante Alighieri (The Divine Comedy, 1265-1321 CE), Giovanni Boccaccio (Decameron, 1313-1375 CE), the poet and scholar Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374 CE).
The Humanism (developed in XIV century reached the high in the end of XV and XVI centuries) played essential role in Italian Renaissance reflecting renewed interest in Classical heritage.
During the Papal absence from Italy (Avignon Papacy), many monastic orders were created in Italy (Augustinians, Carmelites, Servites, Franciscans-Francis of Assisi, Dominicans) bringing a substantial help for less fortunate social groups, spreading basic education among them.
The Art of sacral painting became one of the most important elements of decoration (frescos, altars-diptych, triptych, polyptych) in churches. At the beginning with evident Byzantium influences (Pietro Cvallini-Last Judgement-1291 CE, Cimabue-Madonna Enthroned with Angels and Prophets-1280-90CE) gradually modifying approach to more realistic futures of human figures as well as elaborated draperies and compositions (Giotto di Bondone-Madonna Enthroned-1310 CE-Florence, Lamentation-1305 CE-Padua, Capella Scrovegni-1305-1306 CE-Padua). Trough the Italian Renaissance the individual cities (Sienna, Florence, Genoa, Pisa, Venice) were competing between themselves in many domains, however the art of painting, sculpture, and architecture were most common subjects of such rivalry, as Art was the best indicator of socio-cultural advance over other competitors. Most of the artwork was commissioned for churches (Duccio di Buoninsegna-Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints-1308-1311 CE, Betrayal of Jesus-1309-1311 CE-Sienna, Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi-Anounciation-1333 CE-Florence, Pietro Lorenzetti-The Birth of the Virgin-1342 CE-Sienna) however slowly appeared secular compositions for civil buildings (Palazzo Publico-Sienna-Ambrogio Lorenzetti-Effects of Good Government in the City and Country-1338-1339 CE). They may be considered as first propaganda images in Western Europe glorifying the Rulers achievements.
The increasing importance of painting reflected in development of artistic training, so necessary for official professional membership in organized Guilds, playing significant role in distribution of commissions for an artist. There were two principal systems of execution of commissioned art: one was to live in the house of the client (civic groups, religious entity, privet individuals-Medici family) and the other was to execute the work at the artist’s workshop.
The Renaissance brought important transition from Gothic conventions to new liberated artistic spirit, based on worldly observations resulting in the naturalism of Art, opening doors to the future progress in depicting narrative stories, adding emotions and illusions to the artistic creations.
Piety, Passion, and Politics.
The XV century Northern Europe was going trough very important changes during the political instabilities (the 100 years war-France-England-1337-1453 CE) reflecting directly in further development of art and architecture, particularly painting. The new economic system appeared shaping the early European capitalism (trade of money, commodities-Medici, Florence). The Burgundy with Flanders became very important center of economic evolution. The first International Commercial Stock Exchange was established in Antwerp (1460 CE). The expansion of economy reflected in increase migration of population toward fast growing cities as the main provider of interesting possibilities for all classes.
The art flourished and the high demand for quality paintings (oil paint) were wildly spread. The illuminated manuscripts were in demand. The Dukes of Burgundy were very important patrons of Art, particularly illuminated manuscripts (Limbourg brothers-Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry-1413-1416 CE-an progressive approach to the composition and illustrated themes), sculpture, and tapestry (Arras). Philippe the Bold commissioned a fountain (Well of Moses-1395-1406 CE-Claus Sluter) for newly established monastery order of Carthusians (St-Bruno-11th century).
The invention of Letter Press Print in Germany (Gutenberg-1445 CE) resulted in important artistic productions (graphic art-Martin Schongauer).
The painting in Burgundy (Flemish art) is marked by significant progress in compositions (Altarpieces) and progressive development of coloring (pigments) influenced by stained glass. The artists competed with each other in innovative forms, color, composition and increasing tendencies toward perfection in depicting the human figures as well as architectural landscaping. Adding more and more realistic expressions on the painted faces. The artists inspired each other’s work (growing tendencies of portraying the Donors in altar compositions).
The most impressive artists represented the Flemish art are: Melchior Broederlam-Anountiation and Visitation and Presentation and Flight into Egypt-1399 CE, Jan Van Eyck-Ghent Altarpiece-1432 CE, Roger Van Der Weyden-Deposition-1435 CE, Hugo Van Der Goes-Portinari Altarpiece-1476 CE, Hans Memling-Virgin with Saints and Angels-1479 CE, Robert Campin-Merode Altarpiece-Annunciation-1425-1428 CE, Heronymous Bosch-Garden of Earthly Delights-1505-1510 CE.
Dissatisfaction with the clergy and reformatory movements resulted in increasing popularity of privet devotional paintings in order to satisfy the spiritual needs of society individuals.
The capitalism led to urban prosperity, which contributed in growing interest in secular portraiture. The portraits became very popular as the artists and the Patrons begin to be interested in the reality (psychological and physical).
The portraiture was also very popular in XV century France. The most known among others is Jean Fouquet (Melun Diptych-Chevalier and St-Stephen-Virgin and Child-1451 CE).
In XV century Germany the principal Patrons of Art were wealthy merchants (flourishing middle classes) and clergy. The German Renaissance is represented by: Stephan Lohner-Madonna in the Rose Garden-1435, Konrad Witz-Miraculous Draught of Fish-1444 CE, Veit Stoss-The Death and Assumption of the Virgin-1477-1489 CE.
The German invention of Letter Press Printing (Gutenberg) opened doors to the new form of art; Graphic-art. Woodcut and metal engravings developed rapidly as a new and particular form of artistic creativity accessible to many. Martin Schongauer-St-Anthony Tormented by Demons-1480-1490 CE and Michel Wolgemut-Noremberg Chronicle-1494 CE represent the graphic art.
The XV century Renaissance in Spain is represented in architecture and a flamboyant ornamentations of the Portal of Collegio de -1498 CE St-Gregorio.
The Northern and Spanish Art of XV century brought many innovations on many levels of socio-economic, political, and cultural growth of societies. A great progress was made in painting (techniques, color) development, establishing wide spread popularity and quality of Flemish art. The new born capitalist system brought general prosperities, reflected in increasing interest in secular art, portraits and so on. The new emerged Graphic-art was heading for great future. The Artist profession established a solid ground by well-organized system of Guilds, playing significant role in growing status of professionalism.
The Northern Art became an important element of Western Art.
Humanism and the allure of Antiquity.
The XV century Italy witnessed significant developments in many aspects of everyday life. The political instability reflected in constant shifting power between fighting fractions (City-States-expansion of Princely Courts). The invention of printing resulted in affordable and wide spread of humanistic values trough secular literature of Antiquity (philosophy, science, poetry), exploring also dipper knowledge in wide range of fields as botany, geology, geography, optics, medicine, engineering, aerodynamics, hydraulics, exploration (Marco Polo), as an important characteristic of an Italian Renaissance social individuality. The ruled dynasties (Princely Courts) of reach families (Medici) largely contributed to the brilliant development of art, sculpture, and architecture, as important elements of theirs socio-cultural heritage.
The growing knowledge of humanistic principles reflected in rise of individual conscientiousness of personal importance and civic responsibilities in XV century Italian society. Those changes encourage personal improvements rewarding excellence with fame and honor. The principal motto of artistic evolution became “Imitation and Emulation”. The artist growing interest in search of inspiration from Antiquity resulted further improvement of artistic individualism. Implying the perspective (vanishing point) principals in depicting objects in space, permitted to achieve more realistic results in painting (Gentile da Fabriano-Adoration of the Magi-1423 CE, Masaccio-Tribute money-1427 CE-Holy Trynity-1428 CE, Paolo Uccello-Battle of San Romano-1455 CE, Domenico Ghirlandao-Birth of the Virgin-1485-90 CE, Fra Angelico-Announciation-1440-45 CE, Andrea del Castagno-Last Supper-1447 CE, Perugino-Christ delivering the Keys of the Kingdom to Saint Peter-1481-83 CE, Andrea Montegna-ceiling of the Camera degli Sposi-1474 CE, Piero dala Francesca-Enthroned Madonna and Saints adored by Federico da Montefeltro-1472-74 CE, Botticelli-Birth of Venus-1482 CE).
The increasing importance of individual achievements in society resulted in reviving of portraiture, which became very common and fast growing form of art, helping to preserve images of family members or important personalities (Botticelli-Portrait of the Youth-1480 CE, Domenico Ghirlandaio-Giovanna Tornabuoni-1488 CE). The profile pose was customary at the beginning, replaced later by three quarter or full-face bust length composition influenced by Roman sculpted busts, became prominent in portraiture.
In sculpture the Classical influences evolved as mandatory with individual touch of each sculptor (Donatello-David-1420-1450 CE, Verrocchio-David-1465-70 CE, Antonio Pollaiuolo-Hercules and Antaeus-1475 CE, Luca dala Robbia-Madonna and Child-first widely available copies of relieves executed in terracotta-1455-60 CE).
In architecture the Classical influences were commonly used to create new particular structures with freely adopted elements of Antiquity (Michelozzo di Bartolommeo-Palazzo Medici-Riccardi-1445 CE, Leon Battista Alberti-Palazzo Rucellai-1452-70 CE-west façade of Santa-Maria Novella-1458-70 CE-west facade of Saint-Andrea-1470 CE, Filippo Brunelleschi-Pazzi Chapel-1440 CE).
The 1490 brought cultural and political chaos in Florence and Italy, caused by enemy of Humanism, Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola, who preached the corruption of Florentine and Italian societies as a main source of French invasion. In consequence many wealthy families fled Florence. Those events had short but evident consequences on the further evolution of art and culture in XV century Florence.
Humanism was a principal base of Italian Renaissance and as such the created art prepared a solid ground for further progress of this so significant period in Art history.
Beauty, Science, and Spirit in Italian Art.
The XVI century Italy was a centre of precursory artistic innovations in painting, sculpture, and architecture as well as in many other important tendencies in socio-cultural and political progress during the High Renaissance. The characteristic by excellence elaborated compositions of innovatory painting techniques and freedom of poetic interpretations of religious and secular themes show a great artistic individualism in XVI century Italian art. The importance of perspective played great role in Altar and Fresco elaborated compositions. The oil paint on canvas established as principal mediums, replacing wooden surfaces (Titian). The Artist importance was highly estimated as principal builders of cultural heritage of Italian society.
The Pope Julius II projects to replace the old Basilica of St-Peter by a new one, permitted to create a monumental frescos and sophisticated sculptures, as well as extraordinary architectural solutions. The church and wealthy families (Princes) became very important sponsors of artistic individualities and creativity. During all XVI century the artistic freedom and particularities of each artist rose significantly. The great heritage of Antiquity was influencing further excellence in depicting not only reality but also the psychological aspect in painting and sculpture. The gradually psychological approach to the art resulted less static, more animated compositions with deeply atmospheric and poetic images.
The growing artistic individualism was reflected in Mannerism as a transition to the new upcoming development of style in painting, sculpture, and architecture.
The most important representatives of Italian art of XVI century among many others were:
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519 CE)
Multitalented artist representing wide interest in many aspects of socio-cultural life. (Virgin on the Rocks, Mona Lisa, Virgin with the Child, Last Supper).
Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475-1564 CE)
Extremely talented painter, sculptor, and architect (David, Moses, Sistine Chapel, Tomb of Giuliano de Medici, Capitoline Hill, Saint-Peter Basilica).
Raphaelo Santi-Raphael (1483-1520 CE)
Strongly influenced by Leonardo and Michelangelo, brought new personal approach too the portraiture, elaborated frescos, and painting (School of Athens, Galatea, Madonna in the Meadow, Baldassare Castiglione-portrait).
Giovanni Bellini (1430-1516 CE)
Great painter representing the Venetian School (San Zaccaria Altar piece, The feast of the Gods).
Giorgione da Castelfranco (1477-1510 CE)
(Pastoral symphony, TheTempest)
Titian-Tiziano Vecelli (1490-1576 CE)
The great master of colors representing a innovatory approach to the composition in painting (Assumption of The Virgin, Madonna of the Pessaro Family, Meeting the Bacchus and Ariadne, Venus of Urbino, Isabelle d’Este-portrait)
Jacopo da Pontormo (1434-1557 CE)
Innovatory colorist, representing Italian Mannerism (Descent from the Cross)
Parmigianino (1503-1540 CE))
Linear Mannerism (Madonna with long neck)
Bronzino (1503-1572 CE)
Mannerism of sophisticated elegance (Venus, Cupid Folly, and Time-Portrait of a Young Man)
Sofonisba Anguissola (1527-1625 CE)
One of a few women representing the Italian Renaissance as beautiful Mannerism portraiture (Portrait of the Artist’s Sisters)
Tintoretto-Jacopo Robusti (1518-1594 CE)
Representing the Late XVI century Venetian Art (Last Supper).
PaoloVeronese (1528-1588 CE)
Known from gigantic architectural colorful compositions of Biblical and Historical themes in innovatory forms (Christ in the house of Levi, Triumph of Venice)
In addition to extremely progressive developments in painting, the architecture also followed a various significant modifications and tendencies. The leading architects representing a XVI century Italy were:
Donato d”Angelo Bramante (1444-1514 CE)
(Tempietto-constructed on the place of Saint-Peter’s crucifixion. The monument marked the New era in architecture)
Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1483-1546 CE)
Giulio Romano (1492-1546 CE)
Representing the Mannerism in sculpture of XVI century Italy (Palazzo del Te).
Giacomo dala Porta
(façade of II Gesu – representing important elements of future Baroque tendencies in architecture)
Jacopo Sansovino (1467-1570 CE)
Representing Late Venetian architecture of XVI century (The Mint and State Library on Plazza San Marco).
Andrea Palladio (1508-1580 CE)
Autor of the treatise on architecture “The Four Books of Architecture” (Villa Rotonda, west façade of San Giorgio Maggiore).
The Italian Mannerism in sculpture is represented (among many others) by Benvenuto Cellini (Genius of Fontainbleau) and Giovanni da Bologna (Abduction of Sabine Women).
The scientific by many means progress in painting, sculpture, and architecture of XVI century Italy constructed a solid base for New upcoming style, The European Baroque.
The Age of Reformation.
The XVI century Europe was overwhelmed by the religious conflicts dividing The Catholic Church on different fractions fighting between themselves spreading into hundred years of civic war mainly among Protestants and Catholic. The long-term dissatisfaction from Catholic Church activities such as Pope elections (members of rich families succeeding themselves), sells of indulgences, as well as clerical administration performances concentrated mostly to enriching themselves by occupying numerous offices, and as result not being able to fulfill their responsibilities. In consequence with the Martin Luther’s Ninety Five Theses (1517 CE-Wittenberg) posted for discussion, the reformatory movement started in Western Europe. According to Luther’s convictions The Catholic Church needed cleansing of doctrine that had collected through the ages.
The tumultuous religious conflict didn’t stop the spread of Humanism (Italy) as well as intellectual and artistic ideas based on the heritage of Antiquity. The Northern Humanists however were more concern on reconciliation of Humanism with Christianity (Christian Humanism). Some of the principal protagonists of such movement were: Dutch Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536 CE), English Thomas More, Francois Rabelais (1494-1553 CE).
The differences between the reformers concerning the interpretation of the sacred texts (Bible) resulted in division on Zwinglians, Calvinists, and Anabaptists.
The XVII century European territories and politics were influenced by religious choices. In France decree issued by King Francis I in 1534 CE, stated illegal the Protestantism. In consequence sparked one of the most bloody religious massacres in European history (Huguenots versus Catholics-1572 CE).
The socio-political instabilities of XVI century Europe reflected in the development of art and architecture shaped accordingly to the national religious convictions.
The Catholic Church embraced art decorations as a principal add in spiritual communication with God. The Protestants wasn’t interested in elaborated decorations of their churches, however printed copies of graphic works and portraiture were quite popular for privet devotional use.
The Reformation influences were shaped differently in Western parts of Europe and were inspired mostly by biblical scenes filled-up with allegoric symbolism.
The works of artistes such as Mathias Grunewald (1480-1528 CE) –Isenheim Alterpiece-Crucification, Albreht Durer (1471-1528 CE)-Last Supper-The Fall of Man, The Great Piece of Turf-Knight, Death and Devil, are the best samples of differences of composition of images of Pre-reformatory tendencies (Grunewald ) in comparison to Post-reformatory influences (Durer). Albrecht Durer was a first artist conducting a lawsuit in Art history, against an Italian artist for copying his prints. He was the greatest individual of Northern Renaissance.
The prominence of reformation issues was also reflected in different categories of artistic subjects. Albrecht Altdorfer (1480-1538 CE) painted The Battle of Issus full of symbolic socio-political references. Hans Holbain the Younger painted an elegant and deeply symbolic portrait of The French Ambassadors, showing the growing tensions between secular and religious authorities.
The French King Francis I involved in territorial disputes with Netherlands and Spain was also interested in development of cultural status as well. Among many artists of Italian Renaissance invited in France, were Leonardo da Vinci (double stairs project in Chateau Chambord), Mannerist Rosso Fiorentino and Benvenuto Cellini, Francesco Primaticcio, and Andrea del Sarto. Francis I preoccupation to glorify the state and himself marked a period when the religious art wasn’t prevailed any longer. The King, not the Church, held the power. Francis I emphasized on reconstruction of Louvre as well as many chateaux’s (Chambord). The leading artist represented the French Renaissance are Jean Clouet in painting, Pierre Lescott and Jean Goujon in sculpture and architecture.
The Italian Renaissance influenced also the artists from Netherlands. The political instability caused by religious divisions of provinces to the North (Union of Utrecht-Protestant-independent state) and to the South (Union of Arras-catholics under Spanish rules) reflected in different interpretations of depicted subjects. The strong development of Maritime transport attributed to strong and constant economic growth of The Dutch Republic. The wealthy merchants became growing in number important force in the raise of secular and spiritual art.
Among many Netherlands Renaissance artistes influenced by their own realities are: Jan Gosseart (Neptune and Amphitrite), Quinten Massys (The Moneychanger and his Wife), Pieter Aertsen (Meat still-life), Caterina van Hemessen (Self-portrait), Levina Teerlinc (Elisabeth I, as a Princess), Joachim Patinir (Landscape with St-Jerome), and Peter Bruegel the Elder (Hunters in the snow).
The Spain at the end of XVI century emerged as a dominant European power. The Italian Renaissance influences landed in Spain, transformed in particular way the Bastion of Christianity. The expansive politic of the Spanish rulers (conquest of new territories-Christopher Columbus, Vasco Nunes de Balboa, Ferdinand Magellan, Hernan Cortez, and Francisco Pizarro) resulted a significant economic growth of Spain as economic power. Many palaces and churches were constructed with the Italian Renaissance influences, creating specific Spanish style. The leading architects of this period were Pedro Machuca, Juan Bautista de Toledo, and Juan de Herrera. Spanish Renaissance in painting is represented by Domenicos Theotokopoulos-El Greco (1547-1614 CE). His art have mixed the Byzantium Icons and Mannerism together in order to create his own particular and easy recognizable style in painting.
The XVI century Europe dominated by Reformation issues brought many important changes, influencing the Art in many directions as characteristic particularity of up-coming Baroque.
Popes, Peasants, Monarchs, and Merchants.
The Artistic production at the end of XVII and early XVIII century in Europe is considered by many scholars as Baroque (Portuguese word barroco, meaning irregular shape). Socio-political conditions and geographic areas motivated the diversities of artistic tendencies. It was a time of complex and dramatic creativities bursting with energy of movement in painting, sculpture, and architecture. Elaborated and extravagant decorations, filled with complex energetic naturalistic compositions, dominated in artistic approach.
The Thirty Years War (XVII century-Catholics versus Protestants) resulted in many geographical shifts in Europe. The preoccupying conflict of this period was a struggle for power involved Spain, France, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Poland, Ottoman Empire, and The Holly Roman Empire. Catholic influenced most of these political conflicts and Protestant issues. The secular politic begun to shape the practical realities of Europe. The construction of nation-states and reconfiguration of territorial boundaries was under way. The expending markets, rising profits, wide access to wider range of goods contributed largely to economic competition between countries. The foundation of worldwide mercantilism, voyages, explorations, permitted to establish major trade routes. The creation of World Wide Market Place (1609-Dutch founded The Bank of Amsterdam) and many other sophisticated trading systems, resulted in the change of European face. The wildly spread wealth contributed largely to the development of Baroque decorative style, associated especially with wealthy aristocratic classes.
The clergy (Pope) continued to serve as a major artistic patron, however the bumming economy and growing socio-political status of middle classes, encouraged significantly the artistic market.
In Italy Papal Rome decided to reconstruct the St-Peter Basilica, expanding sacral complex in form of embracing wings (symbolic role of church) according to the elaborated design of Carlo Maderno (1556-1629 CE). Inside the basilica, Gianlorenzo Bernini designed Baldachino, Royal stairs, beautiful energetic David statue, and Ecstasy of St-Teresa. All Baroque sculptures are bursting with energy and freedom of unlimited movement. In architecture the extravagant and elaborated compositions of facades and flying interior decorations (Francesco Berromini-facade of San Carlo alle Quatro Fontane, Guarino Guarini-Palazzo Carignano) were characteristic to this particular style. Balthazar Neumann-Chapel of Vierzehnheiligen, and Egid Quirin Asam-Assumption of the Virgin-Church at Rohr represent the German Baroque in architecture.
The Baroque painting in Italy is represented by innovatory in composition (diagonal) and light Caravaggio (1573-1610 CE-Conversion of St-Paul, Calling of St-Mathew, Entombment) one of the most significant creators of colorful emanating with life images. The Artemisia Gentileschi (Judith slaying Holofermes) represents women of Italian Baroque in her characteristic dark style emphasizing the drama of pictured situations.
The illusionist moving Baroque ceiling frescos are represented by Annibale Carracci-Loves of the Gods, Pietro da Cortona-Triumph of Barberini, Giovani Battista Gauli-Triumph of Jesus, Fra Andrea Pozzo-Glorification of St-Ignatius, more static Guido Reni-Aurora, and the last of great ceiling painter Giambattista Tiepolo (1696-1770 CE) Apotheosis of Pissani Family.
The Catholic Spain of XVII century struggling to maintain control of their falling Empire felt the breeze of Baroque as well. The Spanish artists influenced by Caravaggio, experimented with light illustrating Biblical themes glorifying military achievements, and portraiture (Jose de Ribera-Martyrdom of St-Bartholomew, Francisco de Zurbaran-Saint Serapion). However the most significant painter of Spanish Baroque was Diego Velazquez (The maids of Honor). He was an innovatory and symbolic in many ways, the artist with the new approach in portraiture compositions.
The Baroque in Flanders is represented mainly by Peter Rubens (1577-1640 CE), influenced mainly by such artists as Michelangelo, Titiian, Carraci, and Caravaggio.
He was able to create his own easily recognizable style, filled with vibrant colors and flying energy. Rubens gained great popularity and painted for many international clients.
Clara Peeters, was a pioneer of Flanders Baroque Still-alive paintings, and Anthony Van Dyck in portraitures.
The Dutch Republic Baroque created the most particular innovatory masters of Netherlands painting. Some of the most significant were: Frans Halls-Arches of St-Hadrian, Rembrandt Van Rijn (master of light) –Anatomy lesson of Dr.Tulp, The Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq, Jan Vermeer-Allegory of Art of Painting (innovatory approach similar to Velazques but individual particular just for him composition of Dutch interior housing as an important element in portraiture), Aelbert Cuyp (great landscaper)-Distant view of Dordrecht, Jacop Van Ruisdael (great landscaper)-View of Haarlem from the Dunes at Overveen. The variety of themes, including every day life of Dutch society was directly connected to the socio-political reformation in XVII century Netherlands.
The French Baroque was connected to the ambitious King Louis XIV (Roi de Soleil), consolidating his absolute power on all aspects of socio-cultural and politic development.
Louis XIV was a great and major employer of Baroque artistes, sculptors, and architects.
His grandiose and precursory projects represented in the best way the cultural development of French society. The French Baroque is represented mainly by Nicolas Poussin-Et in Arcadia ego, Claude Lorrain-Landscape with Cattle and peasants, Louis le Nain-Family of Country People, Jacques Callot-Hanging Tree, George de la Tour-Adoration of the Shepherds, and Hyacinthe Rigaud-Louis XIV. The French Baroque in architecture is represented by Francois Mansart, Claud Perrault, Louis de Vau, and Charles le Brun (Versailles, Louvre) including extraordinary sculptors Francois Girardon and Thomas Regnaudin.
The English Baroque is represented mainly by elaborated architectural structures influenced by Classical heritage.
During all the XVII and early XVIII centuries in Western Europe the multitude of styles and interpretations of Baroque were appearing accordingly to the interest of geo-politically different societies. Such incontrollable artistic development exposes unfinished horizons of human creativity in correspondence to the socio-political conditions.
The Enlightenment and its Legacy.
The early XVIII century in France was dominated by Rococo style directly connected with aristocratic way of living after the death of King Louis XIV. The Rococo was mostly associated with feminine influences of aristocratic manner of life (salons, concerts, balls). Essentially it was a style for well-balanced interior designs and generally needed appliances as well as dressing and cultural customs. Growing interests in science, philosophy, technology, literature, explorations (colonies), influenced important changes in the way societies develop and progress. The general Enlightenment (empiricism) of societies (mostly France-England) reflected in many socio-political and cultural changes in people’s every day life. The new way of thinking based on reasoning, not on religion and myths was promoted by philosophers and scholars such as: Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Isaac Newton, John Locke, and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz. In American colonies: Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson.
The Rococo style in painting is represented by Antoine Watteau, Francis Boucher, Jean-Honore Fragonard, and in sculpture by Claude Michel—Clodion.
Denis Diderot influenced the Enlightenment by democratization of knowledge of rationalistic thinking (Encyclopedia-first volume-1751). The social imbalance and extravagant comportment of despotic aristocratic circles, as well as religious intolerance resulted in growing struggles against existing social order. The Industrial revolution in England imposed yet additional changes to the way cities were functioning. The new working class emerged along with new social problems. The growing social consciousness as a result of Enlightenment reflected in American and French revolutions. The socio-political restructure of societies was on the way.
Francois Marie Arouet (Voltaire) was the most representative figure of the Enlightenment spirit. Jean Jacques Rousseau, contemporary to Voltaire represented the French Enlightenment, promoting different philosophical statement encouraging return to the Nature as principal guiding for human existence. His influential writings inspire the rejection of technological progress as an instrument of denaturalization of societies.
The changes in social structures, influenced artists such as Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, and Elisabeth Louise Vigee-Lebrun to expose all sides of human life representing The Natural Taste in France.
England was represented by William Hogarth, ThomasGainsborough, and in portraiture by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Benjamin West, and John Singleton Copley represent the taste for Natural in America. Antonio Canaletto, great architectural landscape painter, represents Italian Natural movement.
The significant development in archeology and exploration of new archeological sites as well as growing interest to explore the classical principals of Greek and Roman art influenced the Neoclassicism style. The artistic promoters of Neoclassicism were: Angelica Kauffman, Jacques-Louis David in painting, and in architecture Jacques-Germain Soufelot (Pantheon), Pierre Vignon (La Madellaine), and Antonio Canova (Pauline Borghese as Venus).
The English Neoclassicism in architecture is represented by Richard Boyle, William Kent, John Wood the Younger, James Stuart, and Robert Adam (Etruscan room).
Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Latrobe and Major L’Enfant (Capitol), represented Neoclassicism in America, as architects. The sculpture was represented by work of Edmonia Lewis.
The Napoleon’s military campaigns in Europe influenced artistic commentaries of politically motivated propagandistic painting by Antoine-Jean Gros.
The emotional approach to the painted subject as a new way of expression opened the doors towards Romanticism. Tragic events and deeply sensual stories were the principal inspirations for Romanticism in painting. Some of the leading artists of this style in France beside Antoine-Jean Gros were: Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson, Jean-Auguste-Domonique Ingres, Giovanni Batista Piranesi, Henry Fusell, and in England poet and painter William Black. The particularly dramatic events in Spain influenced the artwork of Francesco Goya, the principal figure of Spanish Romanticism. Therefore there were many artistes expressing their romantic interpretations of troubled times, the most known were: Theodore Gericault, Eugene Delacroix in painting and in sculpture the romantic heroism is represented by Francois Rude, and Antoine-Louis Barye. Franz Schubert, Frederic Chopin, John Keats, William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Schelley, Lord Byron, and Mary Wollstonecraft Schelley (Dr.Frankenstein) represented the music and literature.
Through the romantic period, the landscape painting of atmospheric, deeply nostalgic images of nature was very in demand. The leading artists of sensual landscaping were: Gaspar David, John Constable, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Thomas Cole, and Albert Bierstadt.
During the Neoclassicism and Romanticism periods many different architectural structures were influenced by liberty of expression of classical heritage as well as exotic cultures. Charles Barry build the English Parliament, John Nash the Royal Pavilion, J.I. Charles Garnier the Paris Opera, Henri Labrouste the reading room in the Library of St-Genevieve, and Joseph Paxton the Crystal Palace.
The beginning of XIX century marked the new art called photography invented in France. The first precursors of this new art of captivating the reality and time were: Louis J.M. Daguerre and Briton Henry Fox Talbot. The Photography became one of the most practical inventions of the XIX century, replacing the Classical Art and influencing new concepts and tendencies in the art of painting.
The Rise of Modernism.
The world of rapidly progressing societies of XIX century, artists were deeply influenced by changes imposed by extreme technological development affecting many aspects of people’s lifes. The Enlightenment reflected in new existential theories (Charles Darwin-On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural selection-1859) pushing the religious principals aside. Growing Atheism resulted in innovatory thesis of proposed restructure of existing social order (Karl Marks, Friedrich Engel’s-The Communist Manifesto-1848).
The artists’ reactions on such socially important revelations reflected in desire of depicting the realities of modern life (Modernism) including the consequences of modernism.
In art of painting, the varieties of modernist tendencies were represented by: Gustave Courbet, Jean-Francois Millet, Honore Daumier, and Eduard Manet. Some artistes preferred to continue to paint in academic forms of classical tendencies (Adolphe-William Bouguereau, Marie-Rosalie-Rosa-Bonheur, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, Henry Ossawa, Wilhelm Leibi, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti).
Impressionism (fast painting in order to catch the time of industrialization and modernization of life in Paris) emerged in 1860 as one of a many artistic movements in painting succeeding each other consequently. Claude Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Edgar Degas, Mary Cassati, Camille Pissarro, Gustave Caillebotte, Pierre-August Renoir, Berth Morisot, James Abbott McNeill Whistler.
Postimpressionism (expressive palette of colors, line and pattern) is represented by Paul Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Seurat.
The Symbolism (freedom of imagination) visualizes the best Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Gustave Moreau, and Odylon Redon, Henry Rousseau-primitive art. and Eduard Munch.
Each successive modernist movement of XIX century, Realism, Impressionism, and Postimpressionist challenged artistic conventions. Artists of modernism movement were grouped in their own theoretical circles of artistic approach to the new life of industrialized societies inspiring each other with progressive evolution.
The socio-economical and cultural changes resulted in a new approach to the sculpture. August Rodin is an outstanding ideal sample of modernist tendencies.
The Art Nouveau was an answer to the modernistic tendencies in decorative art and architecture where metal and elegance of flying elements were largely used (Antonio Gaudi-Casa Mila-Barcelona, Victor Horth-Van Eetvelde House-Brussels, Aubrey Beardsley, William Morris, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Gustave Klimt).
The end of XIX century with the technological advancement introduced new style in architecture (Alexandre Gustave Eifel-Eifel Tower, Henry Hobson Richardson, Louis Henry Sulivan, and Richhard Morris Hunt) reflecting the bumming changes in the way people live and progress to the next XX century.
The Development of Modernist Art.
The early XX century was marked by significant intellectual and industrial development of societies. Industrialization concluded in matured capitalism, increasing significantly consumer economies. Along new industrial realities emerged new socio-political and cultural theories of societies in order to evaluate the individual implication in ongoing process of modernization and social consequences of such action.
The extreme progress in many fields of economic and social structures needed reasonable explanation of ongoing changes and their positive and negative influences on growing consciousness of modern individuals, as an important element of a new socio-economic order (wars, revolutions, colonization’s).
The scientific activities were directed not only towards the new technological growth, but also to the new scientific theories of functionality and structure of physical world (Einstein).
The constant socio-political changes had direct impact on theories and tendencies of new forms of Art. Modernization and Intellectual functionality of societies reflected in almost scientific and theoretic development in art of painting and sculpture.
The industrialization and technological progress was captured and digested intellectually in artistic visions of the new social principals.
Consequently the new artistic movements (tendencies) were conversing between each other, marking significant progress in approach to artistic interpretations of a new constantly developing world of early XX century.
The multitude of artistic explorations of the new creative expression forms were marked by such movements as The German Expressionism, Fauvism, Abstraction, Cubism (analytic and synthetic forms), Purism, Futurism, Dadaism, Precisionism, World War I Art, Surrealism and fantasy Art, New Art (Suprematism, Constructivism, De Stijl, The Bauhaus, Art Deco, and The Natural Architecture. They were directly associated with important socio-cultural as well as socio-political changes in advancing modern societies of the XX century.
All those particular forms of Art were represented by Henri Matisse, Andre Darain, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, Vassily Kandisky, Franz Marc, Pablo Picasso, George Braque, Jacques Lipchitz, Umberto Boccioni, Marcel Duchamp, Max Beckmann, George Grosz, Otto Dix, Georgio de Chirico, Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, Joan Miro, Paul Klee, Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, Alexander Calder, Edward Hopper, Grand Wood, and Diego Rivera.
From the Modern to the Postmodern and Beyond.
After the Second World War, the world divided on two principal spheres of political influences, the West, and the East. The consequences of war in Europe, and fast growing economic power of United States of America shifted the centralization of artistic tendencies from Paris to New York.
The multitude of political conflicts in different regions of the glob shaped the development of art, and influenced a rebel approach to the established social order of industrial powers.
The Youth Culture opposed to the ongoing imperialist tendencies in socio-political structures of societies. They rejected and replaced the old generally accepted social order by their humanitarian opened spirit towards the liberation from existing aged pattern of society. The racial and feminist issues were on the agenda of new theories of social existence.
During the emotional and politically unstable events, which shaped the socio-political and cultural status of modern societies. Art became a socio-political statement. The philosophical theories influenced by existential issues marked the artistic world of XX century. The fast development of multitude artistic techniques by use of mixed media became a principal motivation to the artistic dialogue between modern societies.
Art became a visual interaction between environmental and social issues, influencing modern architecture. The significant technological evolution and computerization of societies opened new possibilities in artistic world of creativity.
Trough the artistic movements and manifestations such as Post War Expressionism (Existentialism), Modernist Formalism (Abstract Expressionism), Post Painterly Abstraction, Minimalism, Modern Formalism (Diverse Sculpture directions-Performance Art, Conceptual Art), Pop Art, Superrealism, Site-Specific Art and Environmental Art, Modernism (architecture), Postmodernism, New Expressionism, New Expressionist Explorations, the artistic statements became an important element in shaping cultural consciousness of Modern Societies in XX and XXI centuries.
The artists such as Francis Bacon, Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, David Smith, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Helen Frankenthaller, Morris Louis, Tony Smith, Donald Judd, Maya Ying Lin, Joseph Beuys, Richard Hamilton, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Duane Hanson, Robert Smithson, Judy Chicago, Miriam Schapiro, Kiri Smith, David Hammons, Leon Golub, Magdalena Abakanowicz, David Wojnarowicz, Krzysztof Wodiczko,Jeff Koons, and Mark Tansey shaped the Art of XX and XXI century.