Art has been a wide range of human activities since the earliest times involving physical craftsmanship, artistic ability, personal aesthetic sense, or creative skill, beauty, emotion, or creative ingenuity. The word “art” comes from the Greek words aktos (meaning ‘to shape’) and logos (design). In English, the word art refers to visual arts including painting, architecture, sculpture, pottery, and music.
Art is now a major part of everyday life in almost every society. It shows in the architecture of buildings, paintings, prints, and other works made by humans. The word “art” also includes computer generated art, such as software and computer games. Some of the greatest painters are very skilled technically but their greatest achievements are in their ability to communicate in emotion through their art. Leonardo da Vinci is well known as the greatest Picasso, Michelangelo is recognized as the most well-known of all modern sculptors, and Thomas Jefferson is widely regarded as the first U.S. President.
Art is an ever-changing, ever-evolving field. Early cave paintings are recorded as being far different than the modern paintings that we know today. Art historians and anthropologists speculate that the old forms of art had a much different meaning for our species compared to what they have now. Through the years, however, the forms of art have developed into many complex forms with new interpretations. As mankind has developed, the interpretation of art has also evolved.
Art History is the study of art across the entire history of the world. Because of the vastness of the human culture and the various periods of history, art has developed in many unique forms. Art in the Ancient World. Art started to develop in Egypt around 1500 BCE with the development of human writing. The development of writing made it easier for people to record what they had seen in the world around them.
Art in the Early Modern Period. Starting around the 18th century, the rise of modern technology led to an improvement in the manufacturing of paintings and other types of artwork. At the same time, the progress of scientific and medical research provided people with a better understanding of the physical human anatomy. With this increased knowledge of the body came the ability to create better art reflecting that knowledge.
Art in the Early Modern Period. Art throughout the history of the world reflects a great deal about the human culture of that time. For example, cave paintings record the ancient events and beliefs while at the same time, they are also a record of their pain and suffering. In the same way, the paintings of the Native Americans represent their heritage and their connection to the world around them. As humans have developed through time, the art that they have produced has also changed to reflect their progress through the ages.