World Art

A World History of Art

From Renaissance to Modern Art


Art Encyclopedia on™ is a complete, clear and precise history of fine arts in articles. From distant past to present day, Articles in a World History of Art bring together art from every age and from every corner of the world. What is art? There is no strict definition. Generally, art is all that makes you think and feel. Art is the product of creative human activity in which materials are shaped or selected to convey an idea or emotion. Whether it creates order and harmony or expresses chaos, art stimulates emotion and intellect. Art is not a luxury but an essential part of life and human experience.


1400 - 1530. Centered in Italy, the Renaissance was a period of great creative and intellectual activity, during which artists broke away from the restrictions of medieval art. Throughout the 15th century, artists studied the natural world in order to perfect their understanding of such subjects as anatomy and perspective. Among the many great artists of this period were Giotto, Masaccio, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Piero della Francesca. The Early Renaissance was succeeded by the mature High Renaissance period, which began circa 1500. The High Renaissance was the culmination of the artistic developments of the Early Renaissance, and one of the great explosions of creative genius in history of arts. It is notable for three of the greatest artists in history: Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci. Also active at that time were such masters as Giorgione, Titian and Giovanni Bellini. In northern Europe there was a Northern Renaissance period with artists such as Albrecht Durer and Pieter Bruegel.


1600 - 1700. Baroque Art developed in Europe as an reaction against the intricate and formulaic Mannerism. The Baroque style used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture and painting. Baroque art is less complex, more realistic and more emotionally affecting than Mannerist art. This movement was encouraged by the Catholic Church, the most important patron of the arts at that time, being seen as a return to tradition and spirituality. One of the great periods of art history, Baroque Art was developed by Caravaggio, Gianlorenzo Bernini and Annibale Carracci, among others. This was also the age of Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, Vermeer and Velazquez.


1800 - 1860. Romanticism emerged as a reaction against Neoclassicism. It did not really replace the Neoclassical style, and many artists were influenced by both styles. It stressed strong emotion, legitimized the individual imagination as a critical authority, and overturned some previous social conventions. Although Romanticism and Neoclassicism were philosophically opposed, they were the dominant European styles for generations, and many artists were affected to a lesser or greater degree by both. Artists associated with Romanticism are Ivan Aivazovsky, William Bouguereau, Caspar David Friedrich, John Constable, Eugene Delacroix, and Francisco de Goya.


1860 - 1880. Impressionism is a light, spontaneous manner of painting which began in France as a reaction against the restrictions and conventions of the dominant academic art. The hallmark of the style is the attempt to capture the subjective impression of light in a scene. The core of the Impressionist group was made up of Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Edgar Degas.


1880 - 1900. Postimpressionism is an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of artists who were influenced by Impressionism but took their art in other directions. There is no single well-defined style of Post-Impressionism, but in general it is less idyllic and more emotionally charged than Impressionist work. The classic Post-Impressionists are Paul Gauguin, Paul Cezanne, and Vincent van Gogh.


1900 - 1980. The notion of Modernism is closely related to 'modern art'. Modernism refers to the new approach to art where it was no longer important to represent a subject realistically. Instead, artists started experimenting with new ways of seeing, with fresh ideas about the nature, materials and functions of art, often moving further toward abstraction. Modernism was the movement that revolutionised the world around us and the way we live it. Amongst famous artists of modern art are Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Marc Chagall, and more.

Modernism brought us a diversity of styles and movements:

A few important artists of modern age have had no any particular affiliation with any of the major modern art movements, or their art can be attributed to have been expressed in several styles:


1980 - 2020. Postmodernism also known as 'postmodern art' or 'contemporary art'. Postmodernism is, by its very nature, impossible to define clearly. What motivates art historical change is not any 'authentic' or 'original' impulse, but simply fashion, the desire for novelty, which is an organic and integrated process. The basic premise behind Postmodernism is that all forms of novelty have already been explored, and that even if that wasn't true the particular emphasis on rejection of that which is old or already done only limits artists self-expression. Seeing as such, Postmodernism is in a sense art's reconcilliation of itself and its past, and Postmodernists typically collect influences from all periods and schools. To put it short: "What's Postmodernism? Answer: Everything's been done already."



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