Humanity has always found many ways to express imagination and emotions. Art is one of the most prominent of these methods. There are all sorts of artistic works; written, painted, and sculptured that captures the very essence of human existence. Historians find this field as the best source of clues to human history and civilization. Since time immemorial, we have different materials holding values to society and creating a path into the human mind as far back as possible. It has been used throughout history as a documentation and expression of life in a different period of growth. Apart from recording lifestyle, art has also been used as an expression of personalities that have shaped human history.
This is why art has been classified into two major categories; modern and ancient. These classifications loosely hint on human history. For historians, understanding human development, particularly with a focus on a selected community, entails a lot of details that can be represented easily through a picture. Every single piece carries a lot of information that can be encoded to take us back to days of the old. Both contemporary and prehistoric artworks have distinct characteristics that help researchers identify human perception and live during their time. These differences help us make sense in every piece and connect to our roots.
For an art student, understanding different periods of art will help you acknowledge human evolution and civilization at large. Art is like an oral narrative that is told over and over again. Every period tells it differently and for a different reason. The only thing that remains relevant is perhaps the ideas that form the foundation of the tale. Every period has forms and techniques that aim for a particular goal depending lifestyle of people in that period.
Old and new art forms differ in many ways. Archeologists have often referred to art finding to compare excavated human remains from the old days. They can use features like the materials available at the time, their civilization, and the general way of life. Even though these differences are eminent, the most important factor remains that art is and will always be part of human existence.
Just like the name implies, ancient literature is art produced during the ancient prehistoric times. It is art carried through ages from the Paleolithic or Stone Age period to the Middle Ages. Humanity during these periods did not know many other means of storing their culture but through simple artwork. Most of the art is represented in terms of architecture and molded materials.
Old art was produced by early humans who were beginning to discover new things to help them survive the harsh conditions. For instance, where a stone was shaped to make a knife, it could easily change to become an art form that indicated the culture of those who lived during this period. Then came ancient civilization where better tools were used in activities like hunting and agriculture. As people started living close, forming towns and cities, more discoveries were made, giving humanity a chance to grow. Sharing of knowledge was the primary source of motivation for many artworks. This period ends with early Christian societies that focused on spreading the gospel through picture representations in strange lands.
In modern times, ancient art serves a vital role as a historical archive and is described thus. Historical events and lifestyles of early human societies are carried in this art, providing us with valuable clues into the past. Every ancient civilization society has its unique art features which can be easily identified today. Consider, for instance, art from Egypt, China, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Babylon, India, Japan, Korea, Japan, Central America, Greece, and Rome. You can quickly tell where a piece of art has come from by looking at its architecture.
The biggest feature that distinguishes ancient art is that it has no uniformity. It does not have a worldwide approach to appeal or affect either. You can only see Egyptian art from the Egyptian perspective and nothing beyond.
Ancient art emphasizes history. It is influenced primarily by its origin, religion, and political climate, as in the period and places it was made. Apart from this, it is described as a stiff, direct, and frank representation of life. There is no complexity whatsoever in any antique piece of art.
Modern art is the direct opposite of prehistoric works. It is not clear at what age it begins, but some experts suggest it started from 1860 to 1970. The significant events during this period are World Wars I and II.
Whereas ancient art focuses on culture, modern art is born of doubting, opposing, or abandoning those traditional ideas, subjects, and techniques. Expressions in this period are founded on changing times and perceptions as a way of experimenting with new perspectives and fresh ideas. The world has been changing rapidly and the function of art along with it. It is no longer about preserving culture but rather leaning more on artistic ideas. In this case, it is supported more or influenced by the general human population as opposed to specific societies in ancient art.
Modern art is the cause of movements such as surrealism, Fauvism, expressionism, cubism, and Dadaism. It is all about whose idea is better. It is, therefore, more complex, carrying a more personal meaning than what ancient art did.
And the most significant aspect of contemporary art is that it can be produced by any person from anywhere in the world. It does not, therefore, carry cultural uniqueness or societal representation. It comes with a worldwide and global appeal.
Ancient and contemporary art are two distinct art periods that summarize human history. They both have unique features that carry human values in the period they existed. Ancient art focuses on a particular subject. It can be a culture, religion, politics, and lifestyle of its original land. It is, therefore, easy to understand and relate. Modern art is expressive and less formal. It rejects roots, treatment, and mindset of making art, which gives it the global nature.
Feb 24, 2020