A thorough summary of the history of art to understand modern and contemporary art.

"Modern and contemporary art seems to be difficult. But I'd like to know about it.

You can get a deep understanding of modern and contemporary art just by reading this article.

■ Table of ContentsOverview and Chronology of the Five Periods 1. Ancient Times 2. Medieval Period 3. Early Modern Period 4. Modern Period 5. Modern Period

Overview and Chronology of the Five Periods

1. Ancient Times
2. Medieval Period
3. Early Modern Period
4. Modern Period
5. Modern Period


Summary and chronology of the five periods

The origins of artcan be divided into five major periods.

Ancient: Art before the birth of Christianity (200years ago)

Medieval Middle Ages:1400years approx

Modern: Art of Classical Antiquity (Greek, Roman) cultural revival ( 1400years-1700 early years)

Modern: Art born out of the development of a convenient world (1900late 1900s to present)

Let's get right to it!


1. Antiquity: Art before the birth of Christianity (200years Before)


1.Primitive Art

The oldest known works of art are the murals in the Chauvet cave in France. B.C. 30000 painted. Most of the other artistic objects are buildings with religious significance, such as Menhir, Dolmen, and Stonehenge.

Author: unknown

Name of work: Chauvet Cave Mural
Date. About 30,000 years B.C.

2.Mesopotamian art

B.C.4000 Years ago, near the Persian Gulf, the Sumerian The Sumerians are said to have established the Mesopotamian civilization near the Persian Gulf. The Mesopotamian civilization, which blossomed in the waters of the Tigris-Euphrates River, was a primitive agrarian society, where various "vessel forms" and "colored earthenware" with humorous decorations were found.

Author: unknown

Artwork: Human-headed winged bull
Date: ca. Around 800 years

3.Egyptian Art

Egyptian art refers to the art of ancient Egypt, mainly the dynastic period of Egypt that began in 3000 BC. Typical works of art include Giza's3Great Pyramids and Tutankhamun. Early Egyptian art is said to have been influenced by Mesopotamian art.

Author: unknown

Artwork: Human-headed winged bull
Date: ca. Around 800 years

4.Cretan, Mukenai and Greek Art

Creta Mukenai Greek Art is an art form that developed in what is now Greece, near the Mediterranean Sea. Muslim art developed in what is now Greece, near the Mediterranean Sea. It has had a profound influence on the art that has emerged since the Middle Ages.

Author: unknown

Name of work: Nike of Samothrace
Date: B.C. Around 190 years

5.Roman art

Roman Art was centered in ancient Rome and developed in the entire Roman Empire. After conquering Greece, Rome was influenced and developed by its quality. The architecture was built with huge structures using arches.

Author: unknown

Name of work: Colosseum
Date: circa 1980


2. Middle Ages: Art with a focus on Christianity (from 200years) span>1400years)

Medieval: Christian-centered art200Years to1400years) 

6.Early Christian Art

Christian art up to the late 5centurythat arose in the Roman Empire. Art. When Christianity was suppressed, they painted motifs of Christ in the basement. When Christianity was no longer suppressed, mosaics depicting scenes from the New and Old Testaments were produced on a large scale.

Author: unknown

Name of work: Interior decoration of the mausoleum of Galla Prachidia
Date: circa 500

7.Byzantine Art

Constantinople (now Turkey) during the Eastern Roman Empire44 century to the 15 century. They include mosaics on the walls of churches and frescoes on gilded backgrounds. It is also characterized by depictions of Christ and saints.

Author: unknown

Name of work: Mosaic of Christ in Hagia Sophia with Emperor Constantine IX and his wife
Date: circa 1200



11century to 121112 century. With the expedition of the Crusaders and the rapid increase in the number of people making pilgrimages to the Holy Land, cultures from all over Europe began to mix and form the Romanesque style. In painting, each region is characterized by its own distinctive style.

Author: unknown

Name of work: "Christ in Glory" in the Church of Saint Clement de Taouille
Date: circa 1300



12midway through 15th century. The word "gothic" means "barbaric" in reference to the Germanic Goths, and was used by the later Renaissance people in a derogatory way to refer to artifacts from this period. In painting, it is characterized by the use of light colors and a humanistic, realistic representation.

Author: unknown

Name of work: Rose Window in Chartres Cathedral (Notre Dame Cathedral)
Date: circa 1300




3. Early Modern: The Art of Classical Antiquity (Greek and Roman) Cultural Revival ( around 1400 to early 1700s)

10.Early Renaissance

15century Christian society declined. As a result of the economic development created by trade, a movement arose to revive the culture of the classical era. This was the "Renaissance". With the invention of perspective and the advancement of oil paints, the expression of painting, which had previously been poor and flat, began to change dramatically.

Author: Sandro Botticelli

Name of work: Spring
Date: circa 1482

11.Northern Renaissance

"Northern Renaissance" refers to the period from the 15centuryto16German, Dutch, and Belgian art from the north of the Alps in the 16thcentury

Author: Jan van Eyck

Work Title: The Madonna and Child of Van der Pare
Date: c. 1434

12.Major Renaissance

1500years to 15301530yearis called the Grand Renaissance. The idea that the three great masters, da Vinci = air perspective, Michelangelo = pursuit of human expression, and Raphael = grace and serenity, are absolute as models for future generations of artists is 19view of art until the mid-century.

Author: Leonardo da Vinci

Work Title: The Last Supper
Date: circa 1498


The arts flourished more under the historical background of the conflict between Protestants and Catholics, the innovation of printing technology, the development of commerce and industry, and the enlargement of wealth through trade with the East. This is where the Baroque was established. The expression of painting became bolder and more dramatic.

Author: Rembrandt

Work title: Nightscape
Date: circa 1642



4. Modern: Art born in a society by citizens (1700late 1900early 1900)


Rococo is a style of art that began to spread with the completion of the Palace of Versailles. It is an elegant style of painting characterized by soft colors, curves, etc. It is a privileged art for a handful of people. It can be said to be a privileged art for a handful of people. From this period, the center of art shifted to France.

Author: Antoine Vatrembrandt

Title of work: Pilgrimage on the Island of Cythera

Date: circa 1719.


With the fall of the aristocracy in the French Revolution, neoclassicism emerged to replace the Rococo style, which had a strong aristocratic taste.

The French Revolution brought about the fall of the aristocracy, and the neoclassical style replaced the aristocratic Rococo style.

Author: Jacques-Louis David

Title of work: Bonaparte Crossing the Alps from the Bernese Pass
Date: 1801


People got tired of the cold, rational depictions and unconventional paintings, no matter how beautiful and good they were, like neoclassicism. In reaction to this, "Romanticism" emerged. In reaction to this, "Romanticism" emerged, depicting scenes that stirred a sense of adventure through the beauty and drama of sensual colors.

Author: Delacroix

Name of work: Statue of Liberty Leading the People
Date. 1830


Until then, the theme had been to depict idealized beauty, but with realism, the theme became immediate reality and events, such as scenes of workers, peasants, and ordinary everyday scenes. This was due to the completion of the Industrial Revolution, which revitalized the flow of goods, money, and information, as well as the development of urban life. The energy of rebellion against power gave birth to the anti-establishment art style of realism.

Author: Millet

Artist: Ochibori

Date: 1857


19The second half of the 19thcentury was a time of great change in the lives of Europeans due to the rapid progress of science and technology. In reaction to the trend of materialism and hedonistic urban life, symbolism turned its attention to the inner life of human beings and attempted to depict the unseen. It uses motifs from mythology and literature to symbolically depict the formless, such as human anguish, anxiety, fate, spirituality, and dreaming.

Author: Gustave Moreau

Name of work: Oedipus and the Sphinx

Date: 1864


At this time, the art world was a world of tradition and common sense: "You should paint beautiful, lofty, unrealistic motifs such as gods and myths! This was the world of tradition and common sense. Impressionist painters tried to faithfully depict what they actually saw. They were in the realist vein, but they were looking at the outside world with a new sensibility. Rather than the shape of things, they tried to reproduce the "impression" of a moment, such as the change of light or the trembling of the air.

Author: Claude Monet

Artist: Impression, Sunrise

Date: 1872


Post-Impressionism is also translated as "Late Impressionism". At first glance, it seems to be a continuation of "Impressionism", but "post" means "out of", so it is "de-impressionism". In general, the three masters, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, are called "Post-Impressionists". These 3mastersdid not form a group. You can see from the picture that each one is too unique and independent.

Author: Vincent van Gogh

Artist: Starry Night

Date: 1889

21.New Impressionism

The technique of pointillism called "split brushstroke" is the same as that of Impressionism, but the goal was "logical pointillism". He tried to show not only the superficial changes, but also the immutable laws that lie behind them. Because of his pursuit of eternity and decorativeness, many of his paintings give the impression that time has stopped.

Author: Georges Seurat

Title: A Sunday Afternoon on Grand Jat Island

Date: circa 1886


This style emphasizes the expression of personal inner feelings rather than the realistic reproduction of nature. It is the opposite of Impressionism, which depicts the external features of things. German Expressionism, which emerged in Germany in the early 20th century, had a profound influence on the following art movements and was passed down from one generation to the next.

Author: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Work Title: The City

Date: 1913




5. Modern: Art born from the development of a convenient world (1900late 1900s to present)

23 Avant-garde = avant-garde (expression, ideas)

Mainly since the 19th century, it has been used for provocative expressions and ideas that are so advanced and elevated that they shake conventional values. Historically, it is said to include cubism, futurism, expressionism, and Russian constructivism. In Japan, Taro Okamoto is a symbol of the avant-garde. In Japan, Taro Okamoto is a symbol of the avant-garde, and his paintings, sculptures, and writings can be seen as an advocate of counterpointism, a critic of traditional Japanese art, and an admirer of the beauty of the Jomon.

Author: Taro Okamoto

Name of work: Tower of the Sun

Date: around 1970



Fauvism comes from the word "fauve", which means "beast". It emphasizes the artist's senses and holds that color should not be subordinate to drawing or composition, but should be used freely as a tool to express the artist's subjective feeling. He broke with the post-Renaissance tradition of realism, expressing colors as felt by the mind rather than as seen by the eye.

Author: Henri Matisse

Work Title: Dance (2)

Date: circa 1910


25 Ecole de Paris

Ecole de Paris means "Parisian School". People from all over the world gathered at Montmartre and Montparnasse in Paris and used the cafes as salons to stimulate each other. A number of famous artists were born, including Tsuguharu Fujita from Japan and Modigliani from Italy.

Author: Tsuguharu Fujita

Artist: Cafe

Date: 1949


Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque are the founders of Cubism.

Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque were the founders of Cubism, which advocated "conceptual realism" and aimed to translate three-dimensional real-world concepts into two-dimensional ones, and to bring painting to fruition as an aesthetic entity. It is said to have begun with Picasso's Daughters of Avignon, but the name is said to have originated in 1908 when Matisse described Braque's landscape paintings with the term "cubist".

Author: Pablo Picasso

Artist: The Daughters of Avignon

Date: 1907

27 Dada

Art movement activities in the first half of the 20th century, which began in Switzerland in 1916 and featured an anti-aesthetic stance and a rejection of established values. The best known artist is Marcel Duchamp, who was active in the U.S. His 1913 work "Bicycle Wheel" was the first attempt at "readymade," a method of converting existing mass-produced products into works of art by changing their original use and meaning. Readymade was later taken over by Neo-Dada and Pop Art, and is still used in various ways today.

Author: Marcel Duchamp

Artist: The Bicycle Wheel

Date: circa 1917


28 Ready-made (method)

Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, shown in the United States in 1917, is known as a representative work of the readymade. It not only overturned the conventional tradition of artists creating works of art with a high level of skill, but also changed the way in which works of art were created, with only one original. It is said to be the starting point of contemporary art as a work that questions the concept of art and the system itself. It has expanded the framework of art by showing the possibility that everything can become art.

Author: Marcel Duchamp

Artist: Fountain

Date: 1917

Original picture by Stieglitz


29 Futurist

This is an artistic movement that took place in Italy in the early 20th century. It rejected traditional art and society in the face of rapid urbanization and industrial mechanization that had become prominent since the Industrial Revolution, and extolled the beauty of machines, speed, and powerful movement appropriate to the new age as the "beauty of speed. His activities were not limited to painting and sculpture, but extended to architecture, photography, fashion, design, literature, theater, music, and political activism, and he had a major influence on 20th century art movements such as Dada and Russian Constructivism that emerged later.

Author:Gino Sevarini

Name of work:Armored Train



30 Suprematism

Malevich, who was strongly influenced by Cubism and Futurism, aspired to absolute abstraction, eliminating all correspondences with reality, and held that the square was the purest form, with no object but the black-and-white circle or square as its component. The square is the purest form. This is Suprematism. It began in 1915 with a painting by K. Malevich in which another square is superimposed on a white square.

Author:Kazimir Malevich

Title of work: Suprematism (Supremus No. 55)


31 Russian constructivism

Constructivism (often called Russian Constructivism in Japan) is an art movement founded by Vladimir Tatlin in Russia in 1913. It rejected traditional painting and sculpture as bourgeois art, and aimed to create art that was useful in real life and for social purposes. It influenced not only painting, but also architecture, design, performing arts, and photography. After Stalin's regime, socialist realism, which rejected abstract art, was encouraged, and Constructivist artists moved their activities abroad, but they had a great influence on the abstract art movement.

Author: El Lissitzky

Title: Shoot White with a Red Wedge



32. de Stijl

32. de Stijl

32. de Stijl is a plasticism advocated mainly by Piet Mondrian. In contrast to conventional figurative art, it pursued horizontal and vertical lines, right angles, squares, rectangles, three primary colors, non-ornamentation, and simplicity, aiming for an objective and universal style of expression. With the participation of members from diverse fields, such as designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld, the school brought about changes not only in painting and sculpture, but also in architecture and design, and was subsequently founded Bauhaus art schoolthat was founded later.

Author: Eto Mondrian

Name of work: Red, Blue, Yellow Composition



33 Surrealism

Surrealism is a form of expression that emphasizes dreams, the unconscious, and chance. Freud's "psychoanalytic theory" was a pillar of Surrealism, and his style of expression was established to depict unconscious desires trapped beneath consciousness. It was an influential avant-garde style, along with its contemporaries Dadaism and Abstract Expressionism.

Author: René Magritte

Artist: Golconda



34 Abstract Expressionism

Abstract Expressionism is a painting trend that gained momentum in the late 40s and 50s, especially in New York. There is no consistent statement or association between the artists, and their works vary in character, but they do represent the spirituality of the artists. The common denominator is the size of the painting, which can be several meters square, and the action painting, which is the gesture of the artist while making the painting, and has inspired the genre of color field painting and the performance called Happening.

Author:Jackson Pollock

Work Title:Number 5



35 Neodada

Neo-Dada is an avant-garde art movement that began in New York City in the late 1950s and 1960s. In the 1950s, abstract expressionism was at the center of the art world, but by combining Dada techniques such as readymade and assemblage, a new style of expression was born. In the 1950s, abstract expressionism was the focus of his art, but by integrating Dada techniques such as readymade and assemblage, he created a new style of expression.

Author:Jasper Jones

Name of work:Flag

Date:About 1954


36. Assemblage (method)

36. Assemblage (Technique)

This term refers to the method and work of collaging everyday objects, industrial products, and waste materials. It has been popularized in the art world due to industrialization and the development of consumer culture. It partially overlaps with junk art, as waste materials are often used as materials. The method of reflecting the social environment surrounding daily life by directly presenting materials is a technique frequently used in Neo-Dada, Arte Povera, and Pop Art.

Author:Robert Rauschenberg

Work Title:The Brooklyn Rail

Date:About 1960s


37 Pop Art

This is a trend in art that mainly focuses on the theme of mass production and consumer society. It is characterized by its use of popular images distributed by mass media such as advertising and television as materials, and reached its zenith in the 1960s in the United States as an art form that celebrated affluence. In the 1960s, it reached its peak in the United States as an art form that celebrated affluence. Since then, it has rapidly spread around the world, creating a variety of styles through its connection with each country's unique culture, such as appropriating images from popular culture to express cynicism about American culture and capitalist culture.


Author: Lichtenstein

Artist: The Girl with the Hair Ribbon



38 Conceptual Art

Conceptual art is a trend that defines the value of art as the concept it represents, not the materiality of the work. This idea was revolutionary in the art scene of the late 1960s. Existing values such as the beauty of the work, its technique, and whether it is impressive or not were eliminated, and the quality of the concept was thoroughly questioned. All art after Dada's Duchamp can be described as conceptual art, which is a very important concept to appreciate in contemporary art.

Author: Robert Rauschenberg

Title of work:Five Words in Five Colors



39 Feminism/Gender (method)

Feminism/Gender (Method) is a term used to refer to works of art that express feminist and gender concerns, which emerged in the 1960s and gained momentum in the 1970s, particularly in Europe and the United States. The term was first coined in the 1960s and gained momentum in the 1970s, mainly in Europe and the U.S. In response to the situation where art history was created from a male-centric perspective, activities aimed at overcoming sexism began to gain momentum. In recent years, there has also been a growing interest in gender debates, gay& lesbian studies, and queer theory that review socially determined sexism.

Author: Judy Chicago

Title of work:5 The Dinner Party



40 Performance Art (Method)

Performance art is a form of body-mediated expression that has flourished since the 1960s. It can be performed in a museum, on the street, in front of a video camera, etc. Not only the place and the performer, but also the time and the audience are important. Pioneering attempts include happenings, events, and performances using video, which are anti-establishment stances that refuse to allow the work to be collected in a museum. A variety of forms and purposes occurred for each artist, such as making a political statement to society.



Author: Vito Acconci




41 Body Art (Technique)

With the advent of photography and video to document the performance of a single student, a form of expression emerged that involved painting, manipulating, modifying and abusing the body. This is body art, which started in the late 60s and gradually evolved into something more extreme. It began in the late 60's and gradually evolved into something more extreme, including self-mutilation, bodily fluids, tattoos, piercings, plastic surgery, and other forms of body reform.

Author: Chris Burden

Title of work: Shooting



42 Minimalism

In the 1960s, Minimalism emerged in the United States and elsewhere, as an attempt to reduce forms and colors to a minimum. The use of simple forms such as cubes, the suppression of color, the repetition of the same elements, and the adoption of geometric structures thoroughly eliminated the traces of the artist's work and decorative qualities. In the case of sculptures, there was an awareness of the need to harmonize with the characteristics of the space, height, lighting, etc. in which the work would be displayed, and to consider the site-specificity of the site, which became the basic idea of the installation. In painting, the shaped canvas was invented.

Author: Donald Judd

Title of work:Untitled



43 Land Art

Land Art, also known as Earth Work or Earth Art, is a large-scale art work practiced since the late 1960s that uses natural materials such as soil and sand outdoors and is comparable to civil engineering. It is considered to be a continuation of Minimalism, which emphasizes the relationship to the place where the work is installed. Many of the works were actively documented with photographs, and the perverse form of viewing in which the records were displayed in a gallery brought to light the institutional framework of art. Nowadays, it is used in a methodological sense.

Author: Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Title of work: Surrounded Islands, a project for Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida

Age: 1980-83Years: 1980-83Photo: Wolfgang Foltz


44. Super Realism

44. The basic philosophy of this trend overlaps with that of Pop Art, which looks at reality with an awakened eye, and Minimalism, which deepened the trend of immersive individualism. In contrast to Expressionism, which moved away from realism and demanded an idealistic approach to painting, Minimalism emphasized idealism by focusing on extreme realism and developed a variety of techniques. The trend is mainly painting-oriented, but some artists applied it to sculpture.

Author: Chuck Crouse

Artist: Mark

Date: 1979Year


45 Alte Povera

This is an art movement, meaning poor art, that developed in Italy in the late 60s and early 70s. It was characterized by the unprocessed use of everyday materials such as newspaper, rope, lead, and pieces of cloth, as well as the repetitive use of natural objects such as stones, soil, and plants.

They have a lot in common with minimal art, conceptual art, and the Mono-ha movement that emerged in Japan during the same period.

Author:Yanis Kounellis

Name of work:Horse

Date: 1969Year


46 Neo-expressionism

This is a trend in figurative painting that occurred in Europe and the United States from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s. It rebelled against the conceptual and esoteric expressions of Minimalism and Conceptual Art, and revived traditional subjects such as primitiveness, history, and Eros. It is characterized by the fact that it is painted in figurative paintings that seem to be distorted by rough brushstrokes and loud colors on a large screen. In the United Kingdom, it is known as New Painting, and each country has its own name and characteristics.


Author:Julian Schnabel

Title:Portrait of a HorseGirl

Date: 1980Year


47 Neogeo

Abbreviation for "Neo-Geometric Conceptualism". Since the late 1980s, there has been a tendency to make strategic use of appropriation and simulation, which is characterized by geometric and clear formality and represents the late capitalist economy and advanced information industrial society. It has a tendency to contrast with neo-expressionism due to its cold formality and impersonal figuration that uses existing representations and readymades. Since the 1990s, the term has become retrospective and rarely used aggressively.

Author:Jeff Koons

Artist: SuLee Ball 50/50 Tank

Date: 1985Year


48 Appropriation (method)

Appropriation is a technique that emerged in the 1980s, mainly in New York, to incorporate existing images and works into a work. In the 90's, the term "simulationism" was coined to describe the process of appropriation. In the 1990s, the term "simulationism" was used to deconstruct appropriation.

Author: Sherry Levine

Created by: The Fountain (Buddha)

Date: 1996Year


49 Relational Art (method)

Relational art refers to artworks that are established through social contexts and relationships between people, rather than through the individuality of the artist. The work and the exhibition room are not autonomous, but the essence is the relationship with the audience and society that is built through participation. Examples include a work in which paper is stacked on the floor and the audience is allowed to take home one piece at a time, or an installation in which countless candies are spread out on the floor for the audience to take home.

Author: Felix Gonzalez-Torres

Title of work: Untitled

Date: 1991Year


50 Media art (method)

Media art is a general term for works that make use of digital technology. There is a wide range of works that utilize video, computer, and internet technologies. From the 1950s to the present, new media art has been constantly being created as technology develops. One of the most famous artists is Nam June Paik, who created works using television.

The latest media art is being produced in Japan by TeamLab, which uses the latest technology to create works of art.

Author: Nam June Paik


Date: 1974Year


 So far, through this article and the timeline of Western art history, I hope you have noticed that art changes according to the circumstances of each era. The path of art is the flow from the past that has continued uninterrupted, and the form of art is the answer from the artist that changes according to the needs of each era. From the chronology, which becomes more detailed as we get closer to the present day, I hope you can see that art continues to change into something diverse with increasing speed even today, when industry has matured and the speed of information has increased dramatically. I have quickly reviewed Western art, but if people who want to know more about art can enrich their daily lives by learning about art, that would make us very happy. It would be a great blessing for all of us.