Art History For Early Ages
The history of art can be traced back to as early as the pre-historic times. Parietal art in the form of petroglyphs and rock paintings have been discovered in the Neolithic period. While a petroglyph denotes an image created on stone or rocks through carving or incision; rock paintings were illustrations created on rocks. However, the real purpose of art in those times is still debatable.
Petroglyphs have been found all over the world in continents such as Asia, North and South America and Europe. These forms of art could have been used for communication, rituals or as calendars. Rock paintings seemed more natural in their form but they mainly depicted animals. Human figures were seldom taken up as themes. The animals prominent in these paintings were those used for food as well as those symbolizing might such as rhinoceros and cat. Other subjects of rock paintings were handprints, dots and figures representing a human and animal body together in halves. Some of the important cave paintings of early ages can be viewed at Cave of Chauvet in the Ardèche département, France, the work of which dates back to approximately 31,000 BC. The Altamira cave paintings in Spain portraying bisons and other animals were probably produced during roughly 14,000 to 12,000 BC. The most splendid work of that era is represented by the Hall of Bulls in Lascaux in France, which was created in the time period between 15,000 and 10,000 BC.
It was Aristotle who defined the term ‘Art’ but the term did not mean the same as it does today. It signified an activity supported by knowledge and administered with certain rules. In order to take painting, sculpture or any other activity, it was pertinent to learn the same staying within the restrictions of the respective trade. The Greeks made use of rules to discipline life in totality, which would ultimately bring them harmony in their work. The potential of a painter or sculptor was evaluated in accordance to the extent of rules adhered by the individual in his work. There was no place for creativity or intuition.
In Greek, a painter or sculptor was referred to as ‘banausos’, which meant mechanic. The terminology itself exemplifies the status of these individuals in the ancient social set up. The Greeks and Romans did not acknowledge the vocabulary of ‘fine art’, instead slotted visual art amongst the manual craft. It was only in the early Middle Ages that the term ‘artista’ was invented.
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