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The History of Western Art in 23 Minutes: From the Prehistoric to the Contemporary

Open Culture: “Among the ranks of Open Culture readers, there are no doubt more than a few art-history majors. Perhaps you’ve studied the subject yourself, at one time or another — and perhaps you find that by now, you remember only certain scattered artists, works, and movements. What you need is a grand narrative, a broad story of art itself, and that’s just what you’ll find in the video above from Youtube channel Behind the Masterpiece. True to its title, “A Brief History of Art Movements” briefly describes, and provides a host of visual examples to illustrate, 22 phases in the development of art in just 23 minutes. The journey begins in prehistory, with cave paintings from 40,000 years ago apparently created “as a way to share information.” Then comes the art of antiquity, when increasingly literate societies “started creating the earliest naturalistic images of human beings,” not least to enforce “religious and political ideologies.” The religiosity intensified in the Middle Ages, when artists “depicted clear, iconic images of religious figures” — as well as their oddly aged-looking babies — “and decorated them with extensive use of gold and jewels as a way to attract more people to the church.”

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