From stick figures in the sand and the earliest animals painted and
carved in stone, people worldwide have reacted to the world by making images.
The fundamental goal of art, especially in the past, was to convey meaning and
express important ideas, revealing what was significant to every society, by
arresting images. In recognizing the subject matter of any painting, you have
to look at the artist\'s intentions, which are regularly connected to social
conditions, national or global issues and the demands of the public. To avoid
the pitfalls of judging all art by our own personal experiences and subjective
views, we have to learn the background surrounding the artist when the work was
created- the social and historical conditions of the time and the philosophical
views which affected the way in which the artist viewed the world. (Russell,
Art is as varied as the life from which it springs and each artist
portrays different aspects of the world they know. Briefly, it may be said that
artists paint to discover truth and to create order. The creators of art make
discoveries about the wonders and beauty of nature and the dignity and nobility
of man. They give these concepts an order to help us understand life in a
greater depth. In understanding the history and style of any period of art, we
have to comprehend the balance between social and political development of that
particular era. Within each and every period, development of style is affected
by a response to particular philosophies, social and economic conditions,
political and spiritual influences. World Issues have been reflected in art
throughout the ages, and this premise is supported by three particular periods
of time. This is clearly evident when viewing ancient art, where symbolism was
an important part of society. Also, through the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries, where art was a critical form of expression and finally in the modern
age of art where even in looking into the works of individual artists, one can
get a sense of the feelings and events of the time and the world. Let us now
examine theses three periods in detail, to support this hypothesis.
If we are aware of meaning of religious, political, or other symbols, it
will better our understanding of the frame of mind of the artist. Each piece of
art is unique, a reflection of the artist\'s perceptions, insights and
experiences. Certain aspects of the world are often exaggerated, or eliminated,
while the art reflects both the period and the artists own orientation.
Aristotle once said that “Art is the human intelligence playing over the natural
scene, ingeniously affecting it toward fulfillment of human purposes.”
(Bronowski 64) This wonderful world of creation began in ancient times, when
people first created images to express their response to the world around them.
Various civilizations in the past painted images preparing to understand life
after death. Another favorite subject was the glorification of gods and rulers.
The subject which an artist selects for a painting depends largely upon the time
in which he/she lives. A painter painting in the middle ages would probably
have picked a religious subject, for that was almost the only kind of topic
portrayed at the time. Still, outside factors of current events and different
world issues would greatly effect the artists state of mind, and therefore his
As you look into the ancient past of Egypt, it is quite interesting to
note the bureaucracy in the times of 3000 BC, which helps us to understand the
art work accomplished in these times. As the Egyptians were united under one
central government and ruled by a pharaoh, they were organized by control
through a tightly organized bureaucracy. The Pharaoh dominated all facets of
the peoples lives. The people dreamed of afterlife as a reward for their hard
work while living, and often depicted afterlife where the spirit could find
pleasure wandering unseen among the living. The palace art and architecture of
these ancient kingdoms was intended to emphasize a hierarchical ordering of
society, form ruler, to subject. Egypt\'s tombs and temples were ornamented with
paintings of great distinction. A painting at the tomb of Theber shows floral
offerings being made to the hawk god Mentu. This is highly stylized and rich,
showing the worshipping of animal gods at the time.
In Greece around the same time period, the mainland and the islands were
settled by non-Greek tribes from Asia minor. In Crete, a civilization evolved
to rival the wealth and sophistication of surrounding places, like Egypt. In
later years, these people named Aninoicens had become quite wealthy from