A-Z Art History

Take a alphabetical trip down art history lane with artists Enkel Dika and Evan Ferstenfeld!

1. A, Caveman Paintings:

The earliest known cave paintings date back to 40,000 years ago, and were sometimes added on to by other cavemen thousands of years later, and no, it wasn’t all schlong doodles.

2. B, Egyptian Art:

No wonder the images and iconography of Ancient Egypt are so memorable; most of the paintings and styles the artists came up with in 3000 BC were copied and intentionally kept as similar as possible even three thousand years later.

3. C, Early Americas/Pacific Cultures Art:

Like much of their lifestyle and traditions, these highly creative cultures developed their art around a highly spiritual bond to nature as well as deceased past generations, giving the world such aesthetic marvels as elaborate body art and patterned rugs/baskets, totem poles, dreamcatchers, and Easter Island statues.

4. D, Ancient Greek Art:

The most popular topics depicted on Greek pottery were sports and war- not counting the immense amount of erotic jars used for men’s drinking parties. Add a kitten here and there and you’ve basically got the internet in pottery form.

5. E, Etruscan/Roman Art:

Roman sculptures became such a popular item that many artists would mass produce bodies and then slap the buyer’s head and face on top.

6. F, Islamic Art:

Because Islam’s teachings forbid drawing most Earthly figures and objects, Islamic artists became the creators of some of the most intricate and geometrical patterns ever seen, which adorn their holiest temples and buildings.

7. G, Indian Art:

Temporary Henna tattoos aka Mehndi dates back to Egyptian times, but is most closely associated with Indian culture and especially wedding decorations carefully drawn onto the bride with dried henna plant paste for to bring luck and longevity to the marriage.

8. H, Chinese Art:

Chinese calligraphy takes the form of art, a written language as well as meditation practice, and was one of the most revered skills in ancient Chinese culture, with Emperors such as Zhao Ji (1082-1135) ignoring most of their ruling duties to devote their time to perfecting their calligraphy style.

9. I, Medieval Art Part I, Celtic imagery:

Like Islamic art, the Celtic religion mostly shied away from depictions of concrete objects and imagery, but they too excelled at their own unique and intricate pattern work, the most famous being the infinite knot-like linework adorning crosses and other religious décor.

10. J, Medieval Art Part II:

Once upon a time, the fairy tales we read both take place during this period as well as derive their flowery lettering from religious banner ornamentation.

11. K, Gothic Art:

The use of brightly colored stained glass in churches to simply and beautifully tell bible stories to the masses was disrupted for several decades when King Henry VIII waged a bitter feud with the Catholic Church for basically not granting him the power of divorcing his wife at the time, and had the majority of English cathedrals remove their stained glass windows or just knocked the entire structures down. Gothic art would see a resurgence and enhancement of stained glass among new elaborate cathedrals.

12. L, Early Renaissance:

This was a time of great social upheaval around the world and creative rebirth, as many artists focused on individualism, intellectualism and mythology in their works instead of more traditional and straight-forward biblical scenes.

13. M, Renaissance Art:

The period where Bellini, Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Da Vinci shined brightest, with the Mona Lisa being the leading example of that age- historians have since discovered there were two earlier attempts of painting Mona in various hand positions underneath the image that’s known today.

14. N, Japanese Art:

Shoguns for many years adapted a policy of isolationism and banned international trade, which in many ways helped the Japanese art forms to be very stylistically unique from the rest of the world. A few art forms Japan invented are wood block painting, bonsai art, origami, haiku and rake.

15. O, African Art:

The birthplace of our homo sapien species not surprisingly has a long history of artistic expression, from rock art, sculptures and tribal mask ornamentation, although much of the earliest examples were produced with material that degraded rapidly like wood and has sadly not survived for further study.

16. P, Impressionism:

Light and movement were the name of the game for French painters in the mid 19th century, with artists such as Degas, Monet, Pissarro and Renoir trying to capture the emotion and feel of a moment in time rather than relying on complete realism.

17. Q, Van Gogh:

The man famous for Starry Night (created during his stay in a mental asylum in France) churned out over 900 paintings in a ten year period, but only sold one during his lifetime.

18. R, Art Nouveau:

Even though the term literally means “new art”, this style actually focused on curvy lines and a more organic flavor that harkens back to Gothic art, Celtic manuscripts, ancient Roman glass and Persian pottery.

19. S, Picasso:

No wonder the father of cubism only signed his last name for his identity in the art world; he was born Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Crispiniano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso.

20. T, Mondrian:

One of the leaders of the White Stripes-approved De Stijl art movement, Mondrian started his career with more traditional landscapes and objects before switching to his signature style of primary color lines and squares.

21. U, MC Escher:

Long before rap battle rhyming gods swiped his first two initials, Escher took illusion to a new level by using tessellation and mathematical impossibilities to form what he called works of “mental imagery”. Which reminds me, check out my 80s synth tribute band Mental Imagery playing every weekend behind The Impossibly-Shaped Waterfall Inn.

22. V, Dali:

The Surrealism king with the freakishly curled mustache and fetish for melting clocks also dabbled in Hollywood, constructing some of the sets for Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound” as well as writing an unproduced screenplay with the Marx Brothers of all people. Apparently Harpo and Dali were extra tight.

23. W, Disney/Consumerism:

The house of Mouse logo, with its fanciful style and perfectly swirled lettering, is the best example of early to mid 20th century art as commerce, which became more focused on the sale of products to a middle class with an urge to spend and money to burn. Now just ignore the 800 tees I have stacked endlessly in my closet and move on to the next letter, shall we….

24. X, Pop Art:

The blisteringly bright and tongue-in-cheek art style meant to merge with the popular culture of magazines, television programs and movies surrounding Lichtenstein, Warhol and so many more of this time; it’s a reaction and satire of art as commerce in many ways.

25. Y, 80’s:

A decade that really propelled the use of computer technology and digital art as a main form of expression to rival the analog world. MTV, IBM and NES ran supreme.

26. Z, Banksy:

A post-modern artist best known for concealing his identity and his guerilla-style challenges to the high art world and their perceived value of “fine” art pieces. He produces the majority of his work stenciled onto the side of walls for all who pass by to witness, not much different than our cavemen ancestors from 40,000 years ago.

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