The History and Evolution of Art Throughout Time

Although there exists the naive assumption that art is all about beauty, the history and evolution of this human endeavor shows that it persists throughout time with a purpose that goes beyond a mere display of pretty pictures. When an is brought up in discussion, the average person may often refer to the Renaissance, the only art movement that is mentioned in a history class (though it is one of many that have passed) Or, if the person is a bit more art savvy, he may be able to pull information from modern and contemporary art movements.

However, the origins of art can be traced much further back, as far as 30,000 BC, to the prehistoric remains of paintings found in the caves of Europe. Within the rocky interior of these caves are numerous drawings and paintings of ancient animals, and sometimes people too, although they came up far less often in the paintings aside from handprints, which are said to have acted as signatures.

There are a few theories as to why these paintings were made Henri Breuil, an archaeologist, says that they may have been part of a hunting ritual meant to increase the number of animals the hunting parties would encounter. Another theory, from David-Lewis Williams, says that the paintings were done by shamans who would enter a trance-like state and paint their visions, While the theories differ, they both portray these pieces of art as works that were meant to express an idea. In the first theory, the paintings communicate, in this case, a desire to be successful in the hunting parties, In the second, the paintings are actual representations of what the painters’ see.

Get quality help now
Bella Hamilton

Proficient in: Art

5 (234)

“ Very organized ,I enjoyed and Loved every bit of our professional interaction ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

The paintings then become important in learning about the values of these ancient people Even though the exact purpose of the art is unknown, it becomes fair to say that hunting was very important based upon them. As one moves up the timeline towards present day, one finds that from these cave paintings, an is being refined, becoming more complex, and maturing into the type of art people expect to see hung up on the walls of wealthy homes, Although portraiture became a common practice among artists since it brought in more money, the storytelling and communicative properties of art never faded, This is seen in the religious works of the middle ages and the Renaissance. One example is Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, where he interprets his vision of the goddess emerging from the sea. Once one gets to the Baroque period (c. 1600 — 1750), it becomes clear that a type of evolution is occurring where the use of exaggeration in art becomes accepted (exaggeration in terms of the movement and tonal values of the figures), but the paintings and statues continue to convey certain ideas and messages.

Take for example Rubens’ Cycle de Marie de’Me’dici, a series of over 20 paintings commissioned by a queen of this time period, In order to glorify her majesty, each painting portrays the stages of her life infused with symbols and moments from Greek and Roman myths in order to reinforce her righteousness as ruler, The 20‘” century art world went through the most extreme changes in terms of art history, giving rise to a large diversity of different styles and movements, all stemming from Picasso’s work in creating Cubism. The messages in such an becomes much more difficult to decipher but is still present and even reveals some influences from ancient times, Jackson Pollock’s Pasiphue, for example, may seem like no more than a bunch of random scribbles, but look closer and one finds forms that are borrowed from the story of King Minos and the Minotaur. There is also Willem de Kooning, whose abstract paintings of women in their rounduess bear a resemblance to the ancient Venus figurines that have been dated back as far as 35,000BC. Art continues to grow and change even into the present day.

With the idea of beauty, audiences may often ignore the content that drives the ideas behind it, which causes the art to lose its intended effect. Fortunately, the goal of expression and sharing new concepts in art remains the same, And with each new artist trying to shock the world with a new message, the different styles and tastes of the contemporary age is limitless. Digital art, promotional art, conceptual art—Even though not every person will be a fan of every little thing that is being produced, the general acceptance and appreciation for what new artists are trying to share introduces the notion that everything is valuable in its own rightt And to me, that transcends the idea of beauty, which is so often seen as a requirement in this endeavor, But what really draws my attention, the thing that truly attracts me to art, is being able to convey a message without words because I, for one, have a lot to say but do not have the words with which to say it.

Cite this page

The History and Evolution of Art Throughout Time. (2022, Dec 13). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7