Art history guide for kids

Experts say that a very special artist is born every couple hundred years or so. Someone like Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci will come along and change the way artistry is performed. Artists will begin to sculpt, paint or draw according to this new prodigy. Every period had a person who defined art in their own way and that is how the different art periods were born. Here is a list of those stages, along with what the future might hold.

Middle Age artwork is divided into three styles and periods: Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic. Most of the art that came out of this period was of a religious background, mainly towards the Catholic Church. The artwork included engraving, manuscripts, stained glass windows, metal work, sculptures and paintings. The Eastern Roman Empire contributed to most artwork because it held a firm rule over most lands. From 500 to 1300, this type of artwork thrived and was the stepping stone for every type of art that would follow.

The Renaissance period was all about new attitudes and ideas. One of those new ideas was called "humanism," which put a focus on human needs, abilities and interests. It was this idea that led artists to paint whomever they wanted and change the way they painted them. This period is divided into two different periods: the Early Renaissance and the High Renaissance. The Early Renaissance (1400 – 1479) focused on creating the perfect form, while the High Renaissance (1475 – 1525) gave artists more perspective and realism with their work. Some of the new styles and techniques that were born during the Renaissance period helped artists define who they were and what their artwork was to be. Perspective is painting or drawing a picture that gives the illusion there is more than one dimension. The use of darkness and light was also introduced during this time period.

The Neo-Classicism art movement (1750 – 1830) was a time period of many restrictions and rules for artists. People who painted were bound by certain rules and this showed the technical mastery they possessed. Many of the paintings during this period were of Roman and Greek ideals and themes. When Napoleon reigned, this style of art flourished greatly. Even interior decorating took a swing at Neo-Classicism artwork by working in motifs that represented this style. It was during this period that artists were being seen as educators and not mere students of the arts.

Romantic art (1790 – 1880) started in Europe and affected literature, art, music and philosophical thinking forever. This type of art focused on feelings, moods and emotions of every kind including imagination, mystery and spirituality. Artists were painting and sculpting everything from religion to revolution to landscapes. One very important thing that sets this movement apart from others is that the brushwork became less precise and looser than ever before.

Modern art (1860 – 1970) was all about experimentations. Artists like Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso threw tradition to the wind and decided to experiment with their work, only to see it flourish. With fresh ideas and new ways of seeing things, artists stepped away from the narrative and leaned toward abstraction (art that uses colors, shapes and forms to tell a story). The start of Modern art can actually be traced back to the Age of Enlightenment (1650 – 1789). It is believed that the pioneers of this type of art were Impressionists, Realists and Romantics.

Impressionists focused on capturing experiences or feelings rather than achieving an accurate picture or likeness. Realists were artists who tried to depict a truthful experience in their artwork without the need of exotic or supernatural elements. Romantics wanted to use as many feelings and moods as possible in their artwork, while displaying a pure piece of artistry. But other types of artists were born in this era as well. Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, and Futurism are just a few.

Contemporary art (1950 – present) contains more than four dozen different types of art. It is a type of artwork that never seems to stop changing. Many artists and lovers of art will tell you that Contemporary art is what people perceive it to be. Expressionism, which is the art of expressing emotional experience or meaning rather than trying to do so in a physical reality, was one of the first contributors of Contemporary art. When the 21st century came about, a new kind of art form hit the globe: Videogame art. This type of art uses computers and video games as the artistic medium.

As the world steps further into the 21st century, art will continue to evolve in several ways. As technology seemingly takes over, there will be a chance for artists to make their mark on the art world. Will virtual reality become an art form? Is architecture going to define the art world like it did in centuries past?

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