Egypt: New Kingdom - 3000 - 500 BCE
Book of the Dead of Hunefer.
The highly stylized image shows the Egyptian belief in the judgement of souls (here, symbolized by a heart on the scale) before the god of the afterlife, Osiris.
Watch this very informative, seven-minute video on the artwork: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/egypt-art/new-kingdom/v/judgement-in-the-presence-of-osiris-hunefer-s-book-of-the-dead
And here is the British Museum's explanation, on their website: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/p/page_from_the_book_of_the_dead.aspx

Ancient Greece, Classical Period – 500- 400 B. C.
The Parthenon- 432 B. C. - This Greek temple was made with cut stone. This style of architecture was copied by the Roman, European, and American architects.

Watch this very informative, fifteen-minute video on the artwork:

Ancient Greece 800-300 B.C.E.
Hercules Strangling the Nemean Lion - 500 B.C.E
In the center of the vase is the figure of Hercules he is flanked to the right by the goddess Athena, the Nemean lion lunges forward digging his claw into Hercules left thigh. Hercules uses gift of strength to strangle the lion to death. As legend has it the Nemean lion was sent up to the stars and is now the constellation of Leo.

Ancient Rome, Roman Empire- 500 B. C. - 476 A. D.
The Pantheon- 125 B. C.- This 2100 year old Roman temple demonstrates the incredible
engineering skills of Roman builders and architects. The Romans were the first to
perfect the construction of stone arches and vaulted ceilings and domed roofs.

Watch this very informative, seven-minute video on this remarkable building:

Middle Ages, Byzantine Art Period- 300 AD-1453 A. D.
Madonna Enthroned by Cimabue- 1285 A.D. This oil on wood alter panel painting illustrates scenes from the Christian bible. It shows the mother of Jesus Christ (Madonna) holdingthe baby Jesus surrounded by angles with halos.With this painting, Cimabue broke away from the strict, flat, ornamental color style of most byzantine artwork. The angels are shown stacked upon one another. Cimabue created multiple viewpoints so that the viewer could see it from many different angles. There is no clear perspective, but this may have been to create a more “divine” feel. Some of the prophets below are shown reading prophesies from scrolls. Christ himself is also depicted holding a scroll because he is teaching the faithful believers. Ultramarine blue, the most expensive color of the time, was used for Madonna’s robe. Cimabue was known for being more realistic, in his attempt to model the faces. The drapery worn by the figures is much more naturalistic, soft, and life-like than earlier Byzantine works. He also did not outline forms, unlike other Byzantine artists.

Watch this very informative, seven-minute video on the artwork:

Also, for more information:

Gothic Period in France- 1150-1515 A. D.
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris- 1345 - This Gothic Cathedral (church) is noted for grand scale, it’s soaring interior space, and stained glass windows.
Here are several short informative videos on this amazing building:





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Late Gothic Period in Northern Europe- 1400 - 1499
Arnolfini Wedding by Jan Van Eyck 1434 This painting is believed to be a portrait of the Italian merchant Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife, presumably in their home in the city of Bruges. This painting is considered one of the most complex paintings in Western art history. It is one of the first paintings found to be done in oil paints, opposed to tempra. Through this, van Eyck successfully heightened the illusion of three dimensional form. The couple is visibly wealthy, this is evident due to the clothing that they wear, the brass chandelier , and the presence of oranges, which were a rarity at the time.


And here is the analysis from Smarthistory:

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Renaissance Period in Italy – 1400-1600
Birth of Venus: 1486. Part of the Early Renaissance period, painted with oil on canvas by Sandro Botticelli, this revival of ancient Greek mythology depicts the story of Venus being born out of the sea on a giant half shell. The goddess of beauty is born fully grown and shows modesty and grace in her nudity, but as she approaches the shore a maid is ready to cover her. This painting was one of the first to show the difference between nude and naked as two separate concepts.
Watch this very informative four-minute video on this amazing painting:

And for more information, from the Italian museum where it is displayed:

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Neoclassical Period – 1750 -1850
Death of Socrates: 1787. This oil on canvas painting by Jacques Louis David is the depiction of Socrates fulfilling his death sentence by drinking a cup of hemlock. He is shown surrounded by followers and disciples of his philosophical school begging him not to take the death sentence. Socrates has the choice of death or exile, (exile being the abandonment of his philosophic vocation) but chose death to maintain his cause. The dramatic lighting and classical referencing makes this piece of perfect example of Baroque art.
Here is an informative six-minute video on this painting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mawq5PKRB6k
And here is the write-up from the Metropolitan Museum in New York: http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/110000543

The Romantic Movement – 1800 - 1850
Third of May- Francisco Goya- 1808
This painting is oil on canvas and is part of the Romantic Movement. This painting is a dramatic shift from neo-classical paintings because of the subject matter. This painting depicts France ruled under Napoleon killing Spanish citizens because a French soldier was shot dead and a Spanish sniper was blamed for the death. There is a lot of symbolism in this painting, for example the man in the white and yellow is depicted like Christ with his hands like he was on a crucifix. There is also a stigmata on his right hand alluding that he is like-Christ or holy.
Here is an excellent informative video on the painting:

Realism 1840 - 1880
The Stone Breakers, by Gustav Corbet – 1850
Many of Corbet’s paintings take have to do with real people and real places. Leaving out the glamour that other French painters were adding to their works. And because of this, Corbet became known as the leader of the Realist movement. This oil painting depicts two laborers breaking rocks for road repair. He shows two men hard at work. Only one appears to be too young for this hard labor and the other man appears to be too old for this hard labor. Expressing the hardship they undergo. He shows sympathy for the ordinary people and showing that they have dignity and disgust for the upper class. The realist painters painted realistic scenes of contemporary events that show ordinary people.
Here is a short informative article from Smarthistory:
And here is more:

Le Moulin de la Galette (Brown bread windmill), by Auguste Renoir – 1876 – This oil painting shows people dancing and drinking at an outdoor cabaret. It is one of the happiest compositions. He decided that he was going to make human beings, especially women the main focus of his paintings. Inspired by Manet’s La Musique aux Tuileries, he decided to include many portraits. He woman in the striped dress, sitting on the bench, is said to be Estella, one of Renoir’s model’s sister. Margot is another one of Renoir’s model and she is depicted dancing with a Cuban painter. The men sitting at the table were meant to be Renoir’s friends. During the Impressionist Period, paint in tubes became available and artists were able to move their easels outdoors capturing the momentary effects of sunlight. No one else had thought of capturing the daily life of French people at such a large scale. He did two other versions of this painting. One was a small sketch that is now in the Ordrupgard Museum. The other one is a smaller painting then the Louvre version, which is held in the John Hay Whitney collection. Some think that the Louver was done on the spot, but it is unknown. Rivière thinks that Renoir did the large scale painting on the spot, but with the complete look of this painting if it had been done on the spot, then it would have been finished in the studio.
Here is a short, informative video on this rather "upbeat" painting:

And here is a bit more:

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Post –Impressionism/Pointillism- 1880 - 1920
A Sunday Afternoon at the Grande Jatte, by Seurat – 1884 – 1886 - One of his most widely known paintings, the oil on canvas work depicts people enjoying a Sunday afternoon at the park on an island in the Seine River called La Grande Jatte. He used the technique pointillism, as he was inspired by color theory and optical illusions. Seurat believed making the piece out of tiny dots of different colors would give it more depth, and perhaps show color like it’s never been done before. Beginning the work in 1884 with a layer of small horizontal brush strokes of complimentary colors, he later added in the dots of more complementary colors. Up close the work just looks like a smear of dots, but as the viewer gets farther away the image of the park is vividly apparent.
Here is a short, informative video on this experimental artwork:
And here is some more from the Museum in Chicago, where it is displayed:
Click here for more information!

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Post-Impressionism – 1880 – 1890
Starry Night: 1889. Vincent van Gogh’s oil painting on canvas shows his impression on an early morning view of his village in France during the late 1880’s. He shows how he sees the world through his own eyes, expressing his imagination and putting it on canvas. The rolling wind is literally shown in waves of blue and white, crashing through the stars and seeming to overbear the quiet little town beneath it. This strong sense of rhythm and movement is expressed through the thick directional brush strokes van Gogh used.
Here is a good three-minute visual analysis of the painting:
And here is some for information from the museum in New York where it is on display:

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Cubism - 1908 - 1914“Guernica” by Pablo Picasso -1937
Picasso’s mural portrays the horrors of the Spanish Civil War as experienced after bombing the city of Guernica, Spain. He focuses on the effects that the citizens themselves face, as ordinary figures fill the piece. Picasso follows familiar artistic paths in the creation of Guernica. It exemplifies analytical cubism in its geometric shapes and forms that juxtapose to give the semblance of shape. The mural features the twisted and deformed shapes of animals and humans as they convey Picasso’s anti-war theme through the usage of blue, black, and white colors. This selection of color conveys the bleak and dark quality of war. He makes a powerful political statement, through symbols and artistic representation, in reaction to the state of political unrest and turmoil that his home is plagued with.

De Stijl Period 1917 -1931
Composition with Red, Blue, and Yellow, by Piet Mondrian – 1930 – This nonrepresentational,abstract oil painting reduces the image to its most basic elements: pureprimary color with a black rectangular grid on a white background. This piece show deep understanding of contrast and balance, and focuses on simplicity. Painted in the style of neoplasticism (Mondrian’s original art theory, which was characterized by black lines filled with blocks of primary color).With this theory, he started the De Stijl art movement.
Here's a great six-minute video analysing Mondrian's artwork:

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Surrealism – 1924 –1940
The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali – 1931 – "Hand painted dream photographs" is how Dali describes this work and others like it. Time is the theme, where clocks melt and ants are attracted to metal like rotting flesh; the world is meant to create confusion within the viewer. While the background is supposed to appear like the cliffs outside of Dali’s home, the monster slugged in the foreground is supposed to resemble his face. Many surrealist painters were attracted to the strange and the bizarre, and thus it is normal to see paintings like this around the surrealist time period.Click here for a cool animation by Walt Disney and Salvador Dali! Click here for more information!

“Migrant Mother” by Dorothea Lange - 1935 – Nipoma, California
Lange is most famous for her Great Depression photographs of displaced farm families and migrant workers in western United States. She captured the human courage and destitute of conditions during the Great Depression, as evident by this portrait of Florence Owens, a 32 year old mother of seven children. The hardened brow of Owens in conjunction with the thick layer of dirt that covers the family became an icon for the progression of aid towards depression struck families.


Abstract Expressionism – 1940 - 1960
One (Number 31, `1950) by Jackson Pollock – This 17 foot wide oil and enamel painting was painted on the floor by dripping paint on the canvas. To create, Pollock tacked unstretched, unprimed, canvas to the floor. He then, walked around with a can of enamel paint and a stick or hardened brush and flung paint at the canvas. This method required the use of his entire body. This is one of his largest paintings using the “drip” technique. The interlacing liquid threads of paint are offset by muted puddles of color and splattering. Although this piece does not have a focus, the use of these three visual techniques makes it all look cohesive. This painting is a perfect example of Abstract Expressionism (a non-representational image that expressed emotion through the free, gestural, application of paint).
Here's MoMA's description of this iconic artwork: https://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=78386 (MoMA's description of this artwork)
Here's Smarthistory's seven-minute interpretation of his work:
And here is some live footage of Pollock painting in Long Island, while he talks about painting. (This was taken in a very productive period of his life, when he had quit drinking alcohol.)

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20. Optical Art – 1960’s
Vega, by Victor Vasarely – 1969- This acrylic painting uses simple form and repetition to
create the optical illusion of a swelling sphere on a flat surface. Op artists used repetition
to create visual rhythm and movement in their paintings.
Victor Vasarely started a series of paintings which became hugely popular and widely known as the ‘Vega’ series. Although there was an earlier work entitled Vega created in 1957 which used the same kind of surface distortion techniques, the series really got going as a series in 1968 when Vasarely introduced color to the works.
In the Vega series we see some of the most advanced applications of Vasarely’s systematic approach to form and color. The paintings are based on spherical distortions to a polychromatic grid. The surface appears to have been warped, giving the feeling of something trying either to break out or to into the depths of the surface.
Here's some video footage of a recent exhibition of his work at a museum in Switzerland:

And here is an interesting four-minute interview with Victor Vaserly in which he explains the way he works:
And here is his (unusual!) website:

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Modernism - A 20th Century Art Movement
Post War Sculpture - Cubi Series, by David Smith 1961-1965 – These large stainless steel sculptures are composed of simple geometric forms.

An excellent five-minute interview with David Smith:


Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts (general view), Bard College-large-1.jpgPost-Modern Architecture –1975 - Present
The Fisher Center, by Frank Gehry – 2008 – This performing art center is located on the
campus of Bard College in Annandale NY. The curved exterior is stainless steel.
the Richard B fishier center is at bard college and was built by Frank Gehry it’s a deconstructive architectural style, completed in 2003 for bard college at Annandale-on-Hudson new York, for a cost of $62million


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23. Earth Art – 1960 - Present
Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson –1970 – Made off the shore of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, this earth art piece is ever-changing with its constant submersion and re-emergence, representing life cycles. Using black basalt rocks, the artist created a coil 1500 feet long and 15 feet wide that stretches out counterclockwise into the translucent red water. As you walk through the spiral you’re entering an experience; moaning wind, relentless light, and flickering water colors all make you feel part of the art itself. Click here for more information!

Time-lapse video of sunrise at the Soiral Jetty:

Here is Smarthistory's four-minute take on the Jetty:

24. Environmenntal Art – 1970 - Present
Iris Leaves with Rowan Berries, by Andrew Goldsworthy – 2007 – This short-lived work of art was made with Iris Leaves and Rowan Berries and then photographed. Environmental Earth artists take art out of the museum and always use objects from nature. Goldsworthy said about his work, “The underlying tension of a lot of my art is to try and look through the surface appearance of things. Inevitably, one way of getting beneath the surface is to introduce a hole, a window into what lies below.” He thinks of this type of art, as a floating sculpture. That is so oriental and just beautiful. The concept of the work is simple, the way it is executed is done is such a beautiful way. Then the complexity of all the elements used and having them work together in this way, is just so breath taking. He believes that this is creativity at its finest. It sort of makes you want to go out and fine things in nature and start your own floating sculpture. The way he does his art is just so unique.

Mask (Buk, Krar, or Kara)
Mask (Buk, Krar, or Kara)

Mask Buk, Krar, or Kara- Mid to Late 19 century


Power Figure (Nkisi N'kondi) - Democratic Republic of Congo - mid to late 19th Century
  • Central African art, much like many other African art of the past and present, centers around the intangible subject of spirit life. Spirits were said to house powers that ranged from whether one’s crop was good to the health of a newborn. This Power figure, or Nkisi N’konde, shows the importance of spiritual worship to the tribes of Kongo. When faced with the heavy presence of colonialism, these tribes strengthened their belief with this power figure. The figure is created out of the simple wood available and is then transformed from ordinary to spiritual with the adornment of metal shards. The figure would be placed in a village’s center and then, as time progresses, would receive a nail or metal shard by a village member to symbolize a pact made or an attempt to exterminate an evil. The people of Kongo used the metal shards as a symbol for their devotion to the spirits. Because of its existence, the Nkisi serves as an enforcer for the social codes of a culture’s everyday life.
  • http://metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/50013887

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27. Shiva, Lord of Dance: 11th century A.D.
  • This bronze statue of Shiva, the creator and destroyer of the universe, is shown doing his cosmic dance. As one of the main gods of the Hindu religion, Shiva has many duties to retain balance in the universe. In his right hand he has the drum he used to make the first sounds of creation. In his left, he holds the flame destined to destroy the universe. Under his right foot he tramples a small troll, which signifies ignorance, representing his role as the enlightened one. This statue of Shiva was popularized by the Chola dynasty, and has been a timeless symbol in Northern Indian culture.
  • http://metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/60006319


28. Colossal Head

The colossal head is huge, so people believe that the people being represented by the head were suppose to be important people. It is also said that the heads could represent worriers or chieftain leaders, or a ruling dynasty. The heads have been found in the three significant Olmecs sites of Mexico, (La Venta, San Lorenzo and Tres Zapotez). The heads were carved from large basalt stones. They found these stones from Tuxtlas Mountains, Cerro Cintepec, and San Martin Volcano. The features of the heads are said to me a mixture of African and Pre-Columbian races. Recently there has been a theory that suggests that the helmeted figures represent famous Ball-court players. Most people are familiar with the ball game of the Mayans and the Aztecs, but it started with the older culture of the Olmecs. The fact that the heads were built with flatten noses and an aggressive expressions because they are playing an aggressive contact sport. There were four heads found in La Venta Park. The largest is about 9 feet high. They also have flattened heads, said to be that way because they also functions as alters. They found a specking tube going in the ear and out the mouth, showing a possible oracle or a talking god. The Radio Carbon date took in 1957 said the heads in average were from 814 B.C. The heads are some of the oldest figures founded in La Venta Park. In San Lorenzo two heads were found and in Tres Zapotez five heads were found. One is said to be about 9 feet 4 inches high and weighing about 40 tons. The San Lorenzo heads are credited to an earlier period then La Venta heads. The size of the heads causes speculation on how the Olmecs were able to move them. The basalt that was used to make La Venta heads is found 80 km away. Head #4 is about seven feet and discovered by Dr. Matthew Stirling in 1939.The heads were found in the centre of the ceremonial area of La Venta city. The helmets are decorated with bear claws, and possibly eagles. These animals were regularly represented by the Olmecs. Heads 2, 3, and 4 were all founded roughly 150 meters north or Complex A, which is north or the Great Pyramid. Head #1 was founded a few dozen meters south or the Great Pyramid.






29. Te-Hau-Ki-Turanga Mauri Meetinghouse
Te-Hau-Ki-Turanga is a Mauri tribal meetinghouse located in Poverty Bay, New Zealand. It was built between 1842-43 by Raharuhi Rukupo, a native Mauri artisit and famous sculpture in the area. The main materials used for the house were wood,shell,grass,flax,and powdered pigments.A traditional Mauri pattern called Koru was used for the interior designs. Relief figures of ancestors were carved on the support polls. After all the carving was done, the house was then finished with a varnish made of red clay and shark-liver oil. The meetinghouse was built to honor ancestors and the traditions of the Mauri people.

Female Figure (Tetepeku)
Female Figure (Tetepeku)

30. Tetepeku- 19th century- early 20th

This female figure carved from wood was a common statue used in the Abelam tribes, from Papua New Guinea, male initiation cycle. The cycle would go from over the course of a man’s whole young life until that person reached about thirty years old. During every stage of the cycle the men would enter sacred huts, at the opening of these huts would be a tetepeku, painted in vibrant colors. As the men crawled through the legs of the tetepekus it symbolized the rebirth of these boys into men.
Good information from the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

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31. Sankh, 19th century Kerala State, India

In Hinduism, the conch shell is usually associated with the water god Vishnu, but the brass coating over the shell shows it may have been linked Shaivite ritual. The conch shell is traditionally seen as nature’s trumpet, and the Indian people used it for just that. The mouthpiece is shaped like a lotus, another water-reference to Vishnu, while the heavily decorated conical end depicts rows of serpents and wreath-bearing creature’s faces. Three figures rest at the upper edge of the shell's opening: the lingam-yoni, symbol of Shiva and representation of the unified male-female force; Ganesh, the elephant-headed son of Shiva; and Nandi, a milk-white bull who serves as Shiva's vehicle. The opening of the hoofed stand represents a yoni.