The oldest surviving art forms include small sculptures and paintings on rocks and in caves. There are very few known examples of art that date earlier than 40,000 years ago, the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic period. People often rubbed smaller rocks against larger rocks and boulders to paint pictures of their everyday life, such as hunting wild game.
The oldest known paintings are at the Grotte Chauvet in France, claimed by some historians to be about 32,000 years old. They are engraved and painted using red ochre and black pigment and show horses, rhinoceros, lions, buffalo, mammoth or humans often hunting Earliest known art. There are examples of cave painting all over the world—in France, Spain, Portugal, China, Australia etc. Many theories have been written about these paintings with no objective conclusion. Some sustain that prehistoric men painted animals to "catch" their soul or spirit in order to hunt them more easily, others refer an animistic vision and homage to surrounding nature and others the basic need of expression that is innate to human being. Above this theories we can say that painting as well as all other forms of art are strongly connected with religious or spiritual consciousness, they seem Earliest known art to remind us of our spiritual essence and existence and the fact that prehistoric men have done it seems like an unarguable proof of it.
The so-called Venus of Willendorf is a sculpture from the paleolithic era, which depicts an obviously pregnant woman. This sculpture, carved from stone, is remarkable in its roundness instead of a flat or low-relief depiction. Prehistoric art objects are rare, and the context of such early art is difficult to determine.
The period of ancient art begun when ancient civilizations developed a form of writing language. The earliest examples of ancient Earliest known art art originated from Mesopotamia and Egypt.
The great traditions in art have a foundation in the art of one of the six great ancient civilizations: Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, India, or China. Each of these centers of early civilization developed a unique and characteristic style in their art. Because of their size and duration these civilizations, more of their art works have survived and more of their influence has been transmitted to other cultures and later times. They have also provided us with the first records of how artists worked.
The period of Greek art saw a veneration of Earliest known art the human physical form and the development of equivalent skills to show musculature, poise, beauty and anatomically correct proportions. Ancient Roman art depicted gods as idealized humans, shown with characteristic distinguishing features (i.e. Zeus' thunderbolt).
Ancient Egyptian Art.Ancient Egypt, a civilization that is strongly connected to architecture and artistic forms, had many mural paintings in his temple and buildings. Often graphical, more symbolic than realistic in bold outline and flat, in which symmetry is a constant characteristic. Egyptian painting has close connection with his written language (see pictography) and painting had an essential role in their manuscripts (papyrus Earliest known art). In fact painted symbols are amongst the first forms of written language.
Because of the highly religious nature of Ancient Egyptian civilization, many of the great works of Ancient Egypt depict gods, goddesses, and Pharaohs, who were also considered divine. Ancient Egyptian art is characterized by the idea of order. Clear and simple lines combined with simple shapes and flat areas of color helped to create a sense of order and balance in the art of ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptian artists used vertical and horizontal reference lines in order to maintain the correct proportions in their work Earliest known art. Political and religious, as well as artistic order, was also maintained in Egyptian art. In order to clearly define the social hierarchy of a situation, figures were drawn to sizes based not on their distance from the painter's point of view but on relative importance. For instance, the Pharaoh would be drawn as the largest figure in a painting no matter where he was situated, and a greater God would be drawn larger than a lesser god. Symbolism also played an important role in establishing a sense of order. Symbolism, ranging from the Pharaoh's regalia (symbolizing his power to Earliest known art maintain order) to the individual symbols of Egyptian gods and goddesses, was omnipresent in Egyptian art . Animals were usually also highly symbolic figures in Egyptian art. Color, as well, had extended meaning— Blue and green represented the Nile and life; yellow stood for the sun god; and red represented power and vitality. The colors in Egyptian artifacts have survived extremely well over the centuries because of Egypt's dry climate. Despite the stilted form caused by a lack of perspective, ancient Egyptian art is often highly realistic. Ancient Egyptian artists often show a sophisticated knowledge of anatomy and a Earliest known art close attention to detail, especially in their renderings of animals. During the 18th Dynasty of Egypt a Pharaoh by the name of Akhenaton took the throne and abolished the traditional polytheism. He formed a monotheistic religion based on the worship of Aten, a sun god. Artistic change followed political upheaval. A new style of art was introduced that was more naturalistic than the stylized frieze favored in Egyptian art for the previous 1700 years. After Akhenaton's death, however, Egyptian artists reverted to their old styles.
Greek art.Ancient Greek art includes much pottery, sculpture as well as architecture. Greek sculpture Earliest known art is known for the contraposto standing of the figures. Ancient Greek art has survived most successfully in the forms of sculpture and architecture, as well as in such minor arts as coin design, pottery and gem engraving. Greek painters worked mainly on wooden panels, and these perished rapidly after the 4th century AD, when they were no longer actively protected. Today nothing survives of Greek painting, except some examples of painted terra cotta and a few paintings on the walls of tombs, mostly in Macedonia and Italy. Of the masterpieces of Greek painting we have only a few Earliest known art copies from Roman times, and most are of inferior quality. Painting on pottery, of which a great deal survives, gives some sense of the aesthetics of Greek painting. The techniques involved, however, were very different from those used in large-format painting.
Roman culture. It is commonly said that Roman art was derivative from Greek and Etruscan art. Indeed, the villas of the wealthy Romans unearthed in Pompeii and Herculaneum show a strong predeliction for all things Greek. Many of the most significant Greek artworks survive by virtue of their Roman interpretation and imitation. However, Roman artists sought to Earliest known art commemorate great events in the life of their state and to glorify their emperors rather than record the inner life of man and express ideas of beauty and nobility, as their Greek counterparts did.
Medieval art. Time Period: 6th century to 15th century
Most surviving art from the Medieval period was religious in focus, often funded by the Church, powerful ecclesiastical individuals such as bishops, communal groups such as abbeys, or wealthy secular patrons. Many had specific liturgical functions — processional crosses and altarpieces, for example.
One of the central questions about Medieval art concerns its lack of realism. A Earliest known art great deal of knowledge of perspective in art and understanding of the human figure was lost with the fall of Rome. But many also point out that realism was not the primary concern of Medieval artists. They were simply trying to send a religious message, a task which demands clear iconic images instead of precisely rendered ones.
During the 11th and 12th centuries, for the first time since the Roman Empire, all of Europe felt the influence of a single artistic style. This Romanesque style was spurred on by the increased monasticism and the pilgrimages that became more Earliest known art and more popular during the period. Abbeys and pilgrimages churches were constructed to accommodate the influx of monks and pilgrims, and as the number of worshippers grew, so did the scale of the buildings.
Increased size created new architectural challenges for the builders of the Romanesque cathedrals. Wood roofs, which were easily destroyed in fire, gave way to stone vaulting. The mainstay of Romanesque architecture, the barrel vault, necessitated a large amount of support. The result was thick, load-bearing walls with few windows, giving the cathedrals a heavy-looking and simple style.
As the name suggests, the cathedrals were based Earliest known art on the ancient Roman basilica plan, with a nave, transept, and apse. To house the increasing number of relics that became immensely popular during this period, radiating chapels were added around the apse. A large, second-floor gallery and an ambulatory surrounding the nave made room so that crowds of pilgrims could visit without disturbing an abbey's monks at prayer.