The study of art is the exploration of human feelings, communication, expression, and their history over the ages.
While the term “art history” suggests the topic covers only historic aspects of art, in reality, it examines the entire world and goes back to the origins of humankind, studying not only art but also communication, experimentation and imagination.
What is known today as “Western art” first appeared in Europe and then spread to the United States and Canada. Western art today includes the art of not only countries in Europe, but also Europeans who have emigrated to the United States and Canada and art that has been influenced by the immigrants in these countries.
The history of Western art is a history of movement of people and the rises and falls of civilizations. It starts with the art of the Greeks and the Romans and ends with the modern art of the twenty-first century.
Because of scarcity of evidence and differences in scientific dating methods, art historians often disagree about the specific periods that art eras cover. Yet they all agree on the general definitions of movements and the fact that disagreements about the specific dates of a historical event don’t change the approach to understanding art. What is much more important to note is the cultural and social context in which artists created their art.
Questions such as who created the piece, what was the background of the artist, and what was happening during that period of history are more important than a specific date. Even if a date is known, there are still a lot of ways to decipher and understand the meaning behind a piece of art.