Hint: You may want to review the Art Period Table to get a good overview of Art History’s 21 periods. Alternatively, you can pick a period from the TOC, or jump to the first period covered – Middle Ages

Section 2 – Art History

Art Periods:

This section will begin with a table of the art periods or movements. The table provides an overview of the twenty-one periods beginning with the Stone Age and ending with the Postmodern and Deconstructive period. Included in the table is the following information:

My focus began on the Middle-Ages (Medieval period) forward. Beginning with the Middle-Ages, I have created a single page for each period which contains:

After the table you will find a very brief description – more information – of the period. The same information can be accessed by clicking on the hyperlink for the period for any art piece.

Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country

I believe by understanding the fact there are defined periods of art (although the dates may overlap at times) and by sampling artwork the reader will get an organized overview of art history.

According to one source, an art movement is a tendency or style in art with a specific common philosophy or goal, followed by a group of artists during a restricted period of time, (usually a few months, years or decades) or, at least, with the heyday of the movement defined within a number of years. For the beginner it is good to know there have been many of these. I reiterate this again, this primer will focus on the Middle-Ages and forward to the present time.

Hint: This table provides an overview of the history of art beginning with the Stone Age and continuing through present day. Click on one of the historical events in the right column to see what was going on in the world at that time.

Art Periods / Movements – A Table Summarizing the 21 Art Periods

Art Periods / Movements Characteristics Chief Artists and Major Works Historical Events
Stone Age (30,000 b.c.–2500 b.c.) Cave painting, fertility goddesses, megalithic structures Lascaux Cave Painting, Woman of Willendorf, Stonehenge Ice Age ends (10,000 BC–8,000 BC); New Stone Age and first permanent settlements (8000 BC–2500 BC)
Mesopotamian (3500 b.c.–539 b.c.) Warrior art and narration in stone relief Standard of Ur, Gate of Ishtar, Stele of Hammurabi's Code Sumerians invent writing (3400 BC); Hammurabi writes his law code (1780 BC); Abraham founds monotheism
Egyptian (3100 b.c.–30 b.c.)
Greek and Hellenistic (850 b.c.–31 b.c.)
Roman (500 b.c.– a.d. 476)
Indian, Chinese, and Japanese(653 b.c.–a.d. 1900)
Byzantine and Islamic (a.d. 476–a.d.1453)
Middle Ages (500–1400)
Early and High Renaissance (1400–1550)
Venetian and Northern Renaissance (1430–1550)
Mannerism (1527–1580)
Baroque (1600–1750)
Neoclassical (1750–1850)
Romanticism (1780–1850)
Realism (1848–1900)
Impressionism (1865–1885)
Post-Impressionism (1885–1910)
Fauvism and Expressionism (1900–1935)
Cubism, Futurism, Supremativism, Constructivism, De Stijl (1905–1920)
Dada and Surrealism (1917–1950)
Abstract Expressionism (1940s–1950s) and Pop Art (1960s)
Postmodernism and Deconstructivism (1970– )
Hint: Please note that hile art periods are usually based on historical eras, art movements are decided by artists as a collective group; that will help explain why there are 24 art periods/movement in my document for only 14 actual periods.

Welcome to the first period covered in detail with the primer. Purposely omitted are the first seven periods (Stone Age through Byzantine/Islamic). Each of the omitted periods could be a course on its own. By covering the next 14 periods/movements I felt it would suffice for this Art Primer.

Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 Effects of Good Government
2 Scenes of Courtly Love 1607
3 Jeweled Cover of the Codex
4/5 Wilton Diptych

The medieval art of the Western world covers a vast scope of time and place, over 1000 years of art in Europe, and at times the Middle East and North Africa. It includes major art movements and periods, national and regional art, genres, revivals, the artists crafts, and the artists themselves. Art historians attempt to classify medieval art into major periods and styles, often with some difficulty. A generally accepted scheme includes the later phases of Early Christian art, Migration Period art, Byzantine art, Insular art, Pre-Romanesque, Romanesque art, and Gothic art, as well as many other periods within these central styles. In addition each region, mostly during the period in the process of becoming nations or cultures, had its own distinct artistic style, such as Anglo-Saxon art or Norse art.

Medieval art was produced in many media, and the works that remain in large numbers include sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, metalwork and mosaics, all of which have had a higher survival rate than other media such as fresco wall-paintings, work in precious metals or textiles, including tapestry. Especially in the early part of the works in the so-called "minor arts" or decorative arts, such as metalwork, ivory carving, enamel and embroidery using precious metals, were probably more highly valued than paintings or monumental sculpture

Early Renaissance

Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 The Dome of Florence Cathedral
2 Expulsion from the Garden of Eden
3 Gates of Paradise

The Renaissance was a period of great creative and intellectual activity, during which artists broke away from the restrictions of Byzantine Art. Throughout the 15th century, artists studied the natural world in order to perfect their understanding of such subjects as anatomy and perspective.

Among the many great artists of this period were Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Paolo Uccello and Piero della Francesca.

During this period there was a related advancement of Gothic Art centered in Germany and the Netherlands, known as the Northern Renaissance.

The Early Renaissance was succeeded by the mature High Renaissance period, which began circa 1500.

High Renaissance

Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 Il Cenacolo / The Last Supper
2 Sistine Chapel Ceiling
3 The School of Athens
4 David
5 Gioconda / Mona Lisa
6 The Creation of Adam
7 The Last Judgment
8 The Sistine Madonna
9 The Tempest

In art history, High Renaissance is the period denoting the apogee of the visual arts in the Italian Renaissance. The High Renaissance period is traditionally taken to begin in the 1490s, with Leonardo's fresco of the Last Supper in Milan and the death of Lorenzo de'Medici in Florence, and to have ended in 1527 with the sacking of Rome by the troops of Charles V. This term was first used in German (Hochrenaissance) in the early nineteenth century, and has its origins in the "High Style" of painting and sculpture described by Johann Joachim Winckelmann. Over the last twenty years, use of the term has been frequently criticized by academic art historians for oversimplifying artistic developments, ignoring historical context, and focusing only on a few iconic works.

Venetian and Northern Renaissance (1430 – 1550)

Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 Arnolfini and his Wife
2 The Garden of Delights
3 Ambasssadors
4 Portrait of a Man (Self Portrait?)
5 Portinari Altarpiece
6 Dutch Proverbs
7 Dürer's Rhinoceros
8 Madonna of Chancellor Rolin
9 Portrait of a Young Girl

The Northern Renaissance was the Renaissance that occurred in Europe north of the Alps. Before 1497, Italian Renaissance humanism had little influence outside Italy. Renaissance in the Low Countries, Polish Renaissance and other national and localized movements, each with different characteristics and strengths. From the late 15th century, its ideas spread around Europe. This influenced the German Renaissance, French Renaissance, English Renaissance.

Mannerism is a style in European art that emerged in the later years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520, lasting until about 1580 in Italy, when the Baroque style began to replace it. Northern Mannerism continued into the early 17th century. Stylistically, Mannerism encompasses a variety of approaches influenced by, and reacting to, the harmonious ideals associated with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and early Michelangelo. Where High Renaissance art emphasizes proportion, balance, and ideal beauty, Mannerism exaggerates such qualities, often resulting in compositions that are asymmetrical or unnaturally elegant.

Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 Las Meninas
2 The Night Watch
3 The Calling of St. Matthew
4 The Surrender of Breda
5 Supper at Emmaus
6 The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus
7 Christ Crucified
8 Rokeby Venus
9 The Watersellers of Seville

The Baroque (US /bəˈroʊk/ or UK /bəˈrɒk/) is often thought of as a period of artistic style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, architecture, literature, dance, theater, and music. The style began around 1600 in Rome, Italy, and spread to most of Europe. The popularity and success of the Baroque style was encouraged by the Catholic Church, which had decided at the time of the Council of Trent.

Neoclassicism (from Greek νέος nèos, "new" and Latin classicus, "of the highest rank")[1] is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome. Neoclassicism was born in Rome in the mid-18th century, but its popularity spread all over Europe, as a generation of European art students finished their Grand Tour and returned from Italy to their home countries with newly rediscovered Greco-Roman ideals

Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 The Third of May 1808
2 The Second of May 1808
3 Liberty Leading the People
4 The Death of Sardanapalus
5 Wanderer above the Sea of Fog
6 The Raft of the Medusa
7 The Massacre at Chios
8 Saturn Devouring His Son
9 Friedland, 1807

Romanticism (also the Romantic era or the Romantic period) was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature.

Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 The Stone Breakers
2 The Gleaners
3 Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe
4 La Recontre, Bonjour Monsieur
5 The Village Maidens
6 Olympia
7 Barge Haulers on the Volga
8 Salutat
9 Snap the Whip

Realism was an artistic movement that began in France in the 1850s, after the 1848 Revolution. Realists rejected Romanticism, literature and art since the late 18th century. Realism revolted against the exotic subject matter and exaggerated emotionalism and drama of the Romantic movement. Instead it sought to portray real and typical contemporary people and situations with truth and accuracy, and not avoiding unpleasant or sordid aspects of life. Realist works depicted people of all classes in situations that arise in ordinary life, and often reflected the changes brought by the Industrial and Commercial Revolutions. The popularity of such "realistic" works grew with the introduction of photography—a new visual source that created a desire for people to produce representations which look objectively real.

Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s. Impressionist painting characteristics include relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage ofime), ordinary subject matter, inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles.

Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 Starry Night
2 Vision After the Sermon
3 The Bathers
4 Curtain, Jug, and Fruit
5 The Card Players
6 La Goulue Arriving at the Moulin Rouge with Two Women
7 Where Do We Come From? What Are We?
8 The Basket Apples
9 The Greeen Christ

Post-Impressionism (also spelled Postimpressionism) is a predominantly French art movement that developed roughly between 1886 and 1905; from the last Impressionist exhibition to the birth of Fauvism. Post-Impressionism emerged as a reaction against Impressionists’ concern for the naturalistic depiction of light and colour.


Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 Portrait of Madame Matisse (Green Stripe)
2 Woman with a Hat
3 Charing Cross Bridge, London
4 View of Collioure
5 Le bonhuer de vivre
6 The River Seine at Chatou
7 Charing Cross Bridge
8 Dance
9 The Open Window

Fauvism is the style of les Fauves (French for "the wild beasts"), a loose group of early twentieth-century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong color over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism. While Fauvism as a style began around 1900 and continued beyond 1910, the movement as such lasted only a few years, 1904–1908, and had three exhibitions. The leaders of the movement were Henri Matisse and André Derain


Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 The Scream
2 Madonna
3 The Tower of Blue Horses
4 Fighting Forms
5 Self-Portrait with Black Vase and Spread Fingers
6 Deer in the Forest II
7 Skeletons Fighting for the Body of a Hanged Man
8 Melancholy
9 Street, Berlin

Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas. Expressionist artists sought to express the meaning of emotional experience rather than physical reality. Expressionism was developed as an avant-garde style before WW I.


Cubism is an early-20th-century avant-garde art movement that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture. Cubism has been considered the most influential art movement of the 20th century. The term is broadly used in association with a wide variety of art produced in Paris (Montmartre, Montparnasse and Puteaux) during the 1910s and extending through the 1920s.


Futurism (Italian: Futurismo) was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It emphasized speed, technology, youth, and violence, and objects such as the car, the aeroplane, and the industrial city. Although it was largely an Italian phenomenon, there were parallel movements in Russia, England, and elsewhere. The Futurists practiced in every medium of art including painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, urban design, theatre, film, fashion, textiles, literature, music, architecture, and even gastronomy


Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 Black Square
2 Suprematist Composition
3 White on White
4 Red Square
5 Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge
6 Head of A Peasant
7 Red Cavalry Riding
8 Four Squares
9 Haymaking

Suprematism (Russian: Супремати́ зм) is an art movement, focused on basic geometric forms, such as circles, squares, lines, and rectangles, painted in a limited range of colors. It was founded by Kazimir Malevich in Russia, around 1913, and announced in Malevich's 1915 exhibition, The Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings 0.10, in St. Petersburg, where he, alongside 13 other artists, exhibited 36 works in a similar style. [ The term suprematism refers to an abstract art based upon "the supremacy of pure artistic feeling" rather than on visual depiction of objects.


Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 Tatlin's Tower
2 Head no. 2
3 Proun 19D
4 Tatlin Relief 2
5 Proun 99
6 Letatlin
7 Figuras a Cinco Colores

Constructivism was an artistic and architectural philosophy that originated in Russia beginning in 1913 by Vladimir Tatlin. This was a rejection of the idea of autonomous art. He wanted 'to construct' art. The movement was in favour of art as a practice for social purposes. Constructivism had a great effect on modern art movements of the 20th century, influencing major trends such as the Bauhaus and De Stijl movements. Its influence was pervasive, with major impacts upon architecture, graphic design, industrial design, theatre, film, dance, fashion and to some extent music.

De Stijl

De Stijl (/də ˈstaɪl/; Dutch pronunciation: [də ˈstɛil]), Dutch for "The Style", also known as neoplasticism, was a Dutch artistic movement founded in 1917 in Amsterdam. The De Stijl consisted of artists and architects. In a narrower sense, the term De Stijl is used to refer to a body of work from 1917 to 1931 founded in the Netherlands Proponents of De Stijl advocated pure abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour; they simplified visual compositions to vertical and horizontal, using only black, white and primary colors.


Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 Why Not Sneeze, Rose Sélavy?
2 Dada Head
3 Dadaville
4 Hat Rack
5 Network of Stoppages
6 The Coat Stand
7 With Hidden Noise
8 50 cc of Paris Air
9 Apolinere Enabled

Dada (/ˈdɑːdɑː/) or Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century. Dada in Zürich, Switzerland, began in 1916 at Cabaret Voltaire, spreading to Berlin shortly Art thereafter, but the height of New York Dada was the year before, in 1915. The term anti-art, a precursor to Dada, was coined by Marcel Duchamp around 1913 when he created his first readymades. Dada, in addition to being anti-war, had political affinities with the radical left and was also anti-bourgeois.


Surrealism was a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for its visual artworks and writings. The aim was to "resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality". Artists painted unnerving, illogical scenes with photographic precision, created strange creatures from everyday objects and developed painting techniques that allowed the unconscious to express itself. Surrealist works feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur; however, many movement.

Abstract Expressionism

Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 The Gate
2 Woman III
3 Male and Female
4 Green and Maroon
5 Stenographic Figure
6 The She-Wolf
7 Gotham News
8 Two Figures in a Landscape
9 To Fellini

Abstract expressionism is a post–World War II art movement in American painting, developed in NY in the 1940s. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve int’l influence and put New York City at the center of the western art world, a role formerly filled by Paris. Although the term abstract expressionism was first applied to American art in 1946 by the art critic Robert Coates, it had been first used in Germany in 1919 in the magazine Der Sturm, regarding German Expressionism. In the United States, Alfred Barr was the first to use this term in 1929 in relation to works by Wassily Kandinsky

Pop Art

Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 Campbell's Soup Cans
2 Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?
3 Drowning Girl
4 Whaam!
5 I Was a Rich Man's Plaything
6 Look Mickey
7 Blam
8 M-Maybe
9 In the Car

Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the mid-1950s in Britain and the late 1950s in the United States. Among the early artists Modern that shaped Richard Hamilton in Britain, and Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns in the United States. Pop art presented a challenge to traditions of fine art by including imagery from popular culture such as advertising and news. In pop art, material is sometimes visually removed from its known context, isolated, and/or combined with unrelated material.


Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 Fountain
2 Nimbus Bonnefanten
3 Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic
4 Puppy
5 Maman

Postmodern art is a body of art movements that sought to contradict some aspects of modernism or some aspects that emerged or developed in its aftermath. In general, movements such as intermedia, installation art, conceptual art and multimedia, particularly involving video are described as postmodern. There are several characteristics which lend art to being postmodern; these include bricolage, the use of words prominently as the central artistic element, collage, simplification, appropriation, performance art, the recycling of past styles and themes in a modern-day context, as well as the break-up of the barrier between fine and high arts and low art and popular culture.


Ref Name of Piece The Artist Art Period / Movement Started or Created Museum / Private Collection City Country
1 Jewish Museum
2 Alpine Deconstructivism
3 Steinhaus (Stone House)
4 Vitra Design Museum
5 Dancing House
6 City of Capitals
7 UFA - Palast in Dresden

Deconstructivism is a development of postmodern architecture that began in the late 1950. It is influenced by the theory of "Deconstruction", which is a form of semiotic analysis. It is characterized by fragmentation, an interest in manipulating a structure's surface, skin, non-rectilinear shapes which appear to distort and dislocate elements of architecture, such as structure and envelope. The finished visual appearance of buildings that exhibit deconstructivist "styles" is characterized by unpredictability and controlled chaos.

Hint: Remember your navigation tips! Anything written in golden-brown within the table or above the art will hyperlink you to the internet on the topic. Numbers are written out above the art (they correspond to the numeric ref number in the table). Enjoy learning!