Art History  
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Art History - Time line of Art periods

Era
Approximate dates
Distinguishing Features
Artists
15000 BC  to 400 BC
Ancient - There are few remaining examples with early art often favouring drawing over colour. Work has been found recently in tombs, Egyptian frescoes, pottery and metalwork.
Records of the Artists have not survived. 
400 BC - 350 AD
Classical - Relating to or from ancient Roman or Greek architecture and art. Mainly concerned with geometry and symmetry rather than individual expression.
350 AD to 450 AD
Byzantine - A religious art characterised by large domes, rounded arches and mosaics from the eastern Roman Empire in the 4th Century.
 
450 AD to 1200 AD
Medieval - A highly religious art beginning in the 5th Century in Western Europe. It was characterised by iconographic paintings illustrating scenes from the bible.
 1200 AD to 1350 AD Gothic - This style prevailed between the 12th century and the 16th century in Europe. Mainly an architectural movement, with little change in art, Gothic was characterised by its detailed ornamentation most noticeably the pointed archways and elaborate rib vaulting. First developed in France, Gothic was intended as a solution to the inadequacies of Romanesque architecture. It allowed for cathedrals to be built with thinner walls and it became possible to introduce stained glass windows instead of traditional mosaic decorations. Some of the finest examples of the style include the cathedrals of Chartres, Reims and Amiens. The term was also used to describe sculpture and painting that demonstrated a greater degree of naturalism. 
1400 - 1500 AD
Renaissance - This movement began in Italy in the 14th century and the term, literally meaning rebirth, describes the revival of interest in the artistic achievements of the Classical world. Initially in a literary revival Renaissance was determined to move away from the religion-dominated Middle Ages and to turn its attention to the plight of the individual man in society. It was a time when individual expression and worldly experience became two of the main themes of Renaissance art.  The movement owed a lot to the increasing sophistication of society, characterised by political stability, economic growth and cosmopolitanism. Education blossomed at this time, with libraries and academies allowing more thorough research to be conducted into the culture of the antique world.   
In addition, the arts benefited from the patronage of such influential groups as the Medici family of Florence, the Sforza family of Milan and Popes Julius II and Leo X. The works of Petrarch first displayed the new interest in the intellectual values of the Classical world in the early 14th century and the romance of this era as rediscovered in the Renaissance period can be seen expressed by Boccaccio. Leonardo da Vinci was the archetypal Renaissance man representing the humanistic values of the period in his art, science and writing. Michelangelo and Raphael were also vital figures in this movement, producing works regarded for centuries as embodying the classical notion of perfection. Renaissance architects included Alberti, Brunelleschi and Bramante.
Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Buonarroti, Sandro Botticelli
Many of these artists came from Florence and it remained an important centre for the Renaissance into the 16th century eventually to be overtaken by Rome and Venice. Some of the ideas of the Italian Renaissance did spread to other parts of Europe, for example to the German artist Albrecht Dürer of the 'Northern Renaissance'. But by the 1500s Mannerism had overtaken the Renaissance and it was this style that caught on in Europe.   
1520-1600
Mannerism - Artists of the Early Renaissance and the High Renaissance developed their characteristic styles from the observation of nature and the formulation of a pictorial science. When Mannerism matured after 1520(The year Raphael died), all the representational problems had been solved. A body of knowledge was there to be learned. Instead of nature as their teacher, Mannerist artists took art. While Renaissance artists sought nature to find their style, the Mannerists looked first for a style and found a manner.
Andrea del Sarto,       Jacopo da Pontormo,     Correggio
In Mannerist paintings, compositions can have no focal point, space can be ambiguous, figures can be characterized by an athletic bending and twisting with distortions, exaggerations, an elastic elongation of the limbs, bizarre posturing on one hand, graceful posturing on the other hand, and a rendering of the heads as uniformly small and oval. The composition is jammed by clashing colours, which is unlike what we've seen in the balanced, natural, and dramatic colours of the High Renaissance. Mannerist artwork seeks instability and restlessness. There is also a fondness for allegories that have lascivious undertones.
1600s to 1800s Baroque Art emerged in Europe around 1600, as an reaction against the intricate and formulaic Mannerist style which dominated the Late Renaissance. Baroque Art is less complex, more realistic and more emotionally affecting than Mannerism. This movement was encouraged by the Catholic Church, the most important patron of the arts at that time, as a return to tradition and spirituality. One of the great periods of art history, Baroque Art was developed by Caravaggio, Annibale Carracci, and Gianlorenzo Bernini, among others. This was also the age of Rubens, Rembrandt, Velázquez, and Vermeer. In the 18th century, Baroque Art was replaced by the more elegant and elaborate Rococo style.
Caravaggio,   Rubens,      Velazquez,    Annibale,     Rembrandt,      Vermeer, Gianlorenzo, Bernini, Nicolas Poussin
1700s
The Rococo period is sometimes considered a final phase of the Baroque period. Throughout the 18th century in France, a new wealthy and influential middle-class was beginning to rise, even though the royalty and nobility continued to be patrons of the arts. Upon the death of Louis XIV and the abandonment of Versailles, the Paris high society became the purveyors of style. This style, primarily used in interior decoration, came to be called Rococo. The term Rococo was derived from the French word "rocaille", which means pebbles and refers to the stones and shells use to decorate the interiors of caves. Therefore, shell forms became the principal motif in Rococo. The society women competed for the best and most elaborate decorations for their houses. Hence the Rococo style was highly dominated by the feminine taste and influence.  
Francois Boucher was the 18th century painter and engraver whose works are regarded as the perfect expression of French taste in the Rococo period. Trained by his father who was a lace designer, Boucher won fame with his sensuous and light-hearted mythological paintings and landscapes. He executed important works for both the Queen of France and Mme. de Pompadour, Louis XV's mistress, who was considered the most powerful woman in France at the time. Boucher was Mme. de Pompadour's favourite artist and was commissioned by her for numerous paintings and decorations. Boucher also became the principal designer for the royal porcelain factory and the director of the Gobelins tapestry factory. The Vulcan Presenting Venus with Arms for Aeneas is a template for a tapestry made by this factory. 
Francois, Boucher, Giovanni, Battista, Tiepolo,William Hogarth, Angelica, Kauffmann, Giovanni, Antonio Canaletto
Characterized by elegant and refined yet playful subject matters, Boucher's style became the epitome of the court of Louis XV. His style consisted of delicate colours and gentle forms painted within a frivolous subject matter. His works typically utilized delightful and decorative designs to illustrate graceful stories with Arcadian shepherds, goddesses and cupids playing against a pink and blue sky. These works mirrored the frolicsome, artificial and ornamented decadence of the French aristocracy of the time.  
 NEO-CLASSICAL
1750-1880
Neo-Classical - A nineteenth century French art style and movement that originated as a reaction to the Baroque. It sought to revive the ideals of ancient Greek and Roman art. Neoclassic artists used classical forms to express their ideas about courage, sacrifice, and love of country. David and Canova are examples of neo-classicists.
David, Canova
ROMANTICISM  1800-1880 Romanticism was basically a reaction against Neoclassicism, it is a deeply-felt style which is individualistic, beautiful, exotic, and emotionally wrought. Although Romanticism and Neoclassicism were philosophically opposed, they were the dominant European styles for generations, and many artists were affected to a greater or lesser degree by both. Artists might work in both styles at different times or even mix the styles, creating an intellectually Romantic work using a Neoclassical visual style, for example.
J.M.W. Turner, Caspar David Friedrich, John Constable, and William Blake.
1848-1920s
Pre-Raphaelites - This movement was originally founded in 1848 by Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. The name was decided upon as the group aimed to rediscover the painting styles of artists working earlier than the time of Raphael. The group, initially comprising Rossetti, his brother William, James Collinson, the sculptor Thomas Woolner as well as Hunt and Millais, specialised in detailed studies of medieval scenes strong on elaborate symbolism and noble themes. Controversy tainted the group early on with commentators believing their name implied that they were superior artists to Raphael, but the influential critic John Ruskin supported them and ensured their success. However, after Millais' 'Ophelia' (1850-1851) was exhibited to great acclaim at the Academy Exhibition the group dissolved. pale, ethereal beauties, while Millais and Hunt went their separate ways but continued working according to the original ideas of the movement. Ford Maddox Brown, Sir John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, John William Waterhouse
 SYMBOLISM 1885-1910 Symbolism - The styles of the Symbolist painters varied considerably, but they shared many of the same themes particularly a fascination with the mystical and the visionary. The erotic, the perverse, death and debauchery were also regular interests for the Symbolists. The leading figures of the movement included the two French men, Odilon Redon and Paul Gauguin, but Symbolism was not limited to France with other practitioners including the Norwegian Edvard Munch, the Austrian Gustav Klimt and the British Aubrey Beardsley. The movement also known as Synthetism flourished from around 1885 and continued until 1910. It was an important move away from the naturalism of the Impressionists and showed a preference for feeling over intellectualism. A number of sculptors were also involved including the Belgian Georg Minne and the Norwegian Gustav Vigeland. In Symbolism's faith in the power of expressivity possible in a colour or a line, the movement is crucial in understanding the development of the abstract arts in the 20th century. Gustave Moreau. Odilon Redon, Gustav Klimt
1830-1870 Realism, also known as the Realist school, was a mid-nineteenth century art movement and style in which artists discarded the formulas of Neoclassicism and the theatrical drama of Romanticism to paint familiar scenes and events as they actually looked. Typically it involved some sort of sociopolitical or moral message, in the depiction of ugly or commonplace subjects. Daumier, Millet and Courbet were realists. Gustave Courbet, Honore Daumier, J A MacNeil Whistler, Jean-Francois Millet, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, John Singer Sargeant
1867-1886
Impressionism - A French 19th century art movement which marked a momentous break from tradition in European painting. The Impressionists incorporated new scientific research into the physics of colour to achieve a more exact representation of colour and tone. The sudden change in the look of these paintings was brought about by a change in methodology: Pure colours were applied and through contrast between colours in close proximity, more realistic visual effects were achieved; recognisable by a sense of movement of air or a quality of atmosphere of the air in the painting that is achieved in the initial application of paint, not through washes or glazes applied after the paint has dried. The result was to emphasise the artist's perception of the subject matter as much as the subject itself. Impressionist art is a style in which the artist captures the image of an object as someone would see it if they just caught a glimpse of it. They paint the pictures with a lot of colour and most of their pictures are outdoor scenes. The artists like to capture their images without detail but with bold colours. Edouard Manet, Camille Pissaro, Edgar Degas, Alfred Sisley, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot and Pierre Auguste Renoir.
The Impressionists were a cohesive group of artists who frequently communicated with each other, often at a club/bar called the Moulin Rouge, which features highly in severeal works. While the term Impressionist covers much of the art of this time, there were smaller movements within it, such as Pointillism, Art Nouveau and Fauvism. Pointilism was developed from Impressionism and involved the use of many small dots of colour to give a painting a greater sense of vibrancy when seen from a distance. The equal size dots never quite merge in the viewer's perception resulting in a shimmering effect like one experiences on a hot and sunny day. One of the leading exponents was Seurat to whom the term was first applied in regard to his painting 'La Grand Jette' (1886).  The effects of this technique, if used well, were often far more striking than the conventional approach of mixing colours together.
1880-1920
Post-Impressionism is basically those artists not involved in the Impressionism movement. France at this time was the hub of the art scene. Many of the Post Impressionists began in the impressionist movement but went of to develop their own individual styles. The term Post-Impressionism was coined by the English art critic Roger Fry for the work of such late 19th-century painters. Impressionism was based, in its strictest sense, on the objective recording of nature in terms of the fugitive effects of colour and light. The Post-Impressionists rejected this limited aim in favour of more ambitious expression, admitting their debt, however, to the pure, brilliant colours of Impressionism, its freedom from traditional subject matter, and its technique of defining form with short brushstrokes of broken colour. The work of these painters formed a basis for several contemporary trends and for early 20th-century modernism.
Paul Cézanne, Georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
In general, Post-Impressionism led away from a naturalistic approach and toward the two major movements of early 20th-century art that superseded it: Cubism and Fauvism, which sought to evoke emotion through colour and line.
 
1905-1908
 Fauvism - The first of the major avant-garde movements in European 20th century art, Fauvism was characterised by paintings that used intensely vivid, non-naturalistic and exuberant colours. The style was essentially expressionist, and generally featured landscapes in which forms were distorted. The Fauves first exhibited together in 1905 in Paris. They found their name when a critic pointed to a renaissance-like sculpture in the middle of the same gallery as the exhibition and exclaimed derisively 'Donatello au milieu des fauves!' ('Donatello among the wild beasts!'). The name caught on, and was gleefully accepted by the artists themselves. The movement was subjected to more mockery and abuse as it developed, but began to gain respect when major art buyers, such as Gertrude Stein, took an interest. The leading artists involved were Matisse, Rouault, Derain, Vlaminck, Braque and Dufy. Although short-lived (1905-8), Fauvism was extremely influential in the evolution of 20th century art.
Matisse, Rouault, Derain, Vlaminck, Braque and Dufy.
 ART NOUVEAU
1800s to 1914
Art Nouveau - This describes a decorative style popular from the last decade of the 19th century to the beginning of the First World War. It was characterised by an elaborate ornamental style based on asymmetrical lines, frequently depicting flowers, leaves or tendrils, or in the flowing hair of a female. It can be seen most effectively in the decorative arts, for example interior design, glasswork and jewellery. However, it was also seen in posters and illustration as well as certain paintings and sculptures of the period. The movement took its name from La Maison de l'Art Nouveau in Paris, a shop keen to promote modern ideas in art. It was influenced by the Symbolists most obviously in their shared preference for exotic detail, as well as by Celtic and Japanese art. Art Nouveau was highly successful all around the world.
Gustav Klimt, Alphonse Mucha,  Aubrey Beardsley, Antonio Gaudí,  Hector Guimard, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
The leading exponents included the illustrators Aubrey Beardsley and Walter Crane in England; the architects Henry van de Velde and Victor Horta in Belgium; the jewellery designer René Lalique in France; the painter Gustav Klimt in Austria; the architect Antonio Gaudí in Spain; and the glassware designer Louis C. Tiffany and the architect Louis Sullivan in the United States. Its most common themes were symbolic and frequently erotic and the movement, despite not lasting beyond 1914 was important in terms of the development of abstract art.
1920-1930
Art Deco - An art movement involving a mix of modern decorative art styles, largely of the 1920s and 1930s. Typically using anglesand splashes of bright colours, rather than the flowing curves of the Art Nouveau styles, Art Deco was a celebration of the rise of commerce, technology, and speed. The growing impact of the machine can be seen in repeating and overlapping images from 1925; and in the 1930s, in streamlined forms derived from the principles of aerodynamics. The name came from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs Industriels et Modernes, held in Paris, which celebrated living in the modern world. It was popularly considered to be an elegant style of cool sophistication in architecture and applied arts which range from luxurious objects made from exotic material to mass produced, streamlined items available to a growing middle class. Art Deco was a not a painting style, rather a design and architectural style.
1905 - 1925
Expressionism asserted itself mostly in Germany, in 1910. Unlike Impressionism, its goals were not to reproduce the impression suggested by the surrounding world, but to strongly impose the artist's own sensibility to the world's representation. Expressionism is an artistic style in which the artist attempts to depict not objective reality but rather the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse in him. He accomplishes his aim through distortion, exaggeration, primitivism, and fantasy and through the vivid, jarring, violent, or dynamic application of formal elements. In a broader sense Expressionism is one of the main currents of art in the later 19th and the 20th centuries, and its qualities of highly subjective, personal, spontaneous self-expression are typical of a wide range of modern artists and art movements. Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Lionel Feininger, George Grosz, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, August Macke, Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein;Oskar Kokoschka,  Alfred Kubin, Edvard Munch, Wassily Kandinsky 
1908-1914

The Cubist art movement began in Paris around 1907. Led by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, the Cubists broke from centuries of tradition in their painting by rejecting the single viewpoint. Instead they used an analytical system in which three-dimensional subjects were fragmented and redefined from several different points of view simultaneously. The movement was conceived as 'a new way of representing the world', and assimilated outside influences, such as African art, as well as new theories on the nature of reality, such as Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Cubism is often divided into two phases - the Analytic phase (1907-12), and the Synthetic phase (1913 through the 1920s). The initial phase attempted to show objects as the mind, not the eye, perceives them. The Synthetic phase featured works that were composed of fewer and simpler forms, in brighter colours.

 

Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Piet Mondrian, Fernand Leger, Sir Jacob Epstein, Juan Gris, Robert Delaunay, Francis Picabia, Jean Metzinger, Marcel Duchamp and Fernand Léger.

 

1919-1930s

Bauhaus gets it's name from a school of architecture, art and design founded in Germany in 1919. Bauhaus style is characterized by its severely economic, geometric design and by its respect for materials. The Bauhaus school was created when Walter Gropius was appointed head of two art schools in Weimar and united them in one. He coined the term Bauhaus as an inversion of 'Hausbau' - house construction. Teaching at the school concentrated on functional craftsmanship and students were encouraged to design with mass-produced goods in mind. Enormously controversial and unpopular with right wingers in Weimar, the school moved in 1925 to Dessau.

The Bauhaus moved again to Berlin in 1932 and was closed by the Nazis in 1933. The school had some illustrious names among it's teachers, including Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Marcel Breuer. Its influence in design of architecture, furniture, typography and weaving has lasted to this day - the look of the modern environment is almost unthinkable without it.

 Walter Gropius, Lyonel Feininger, Franz Marc, Georg Muche, Paul Klee,  Johannes Itten , Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Oskar Schlemmer, Wassily Kandinsky 


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