Monthly Archives: December 2015

European art after the Roman Empire

Art between the Roman period and the Renaissance.

The Romans portrayed three dimensions properly in two dimensions in their paintings. They had receding lines and a sense that things further away are smaller. But this did not persist in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, at least not in Western Europe. And I haven’t seen any evidence for it in the Christian, Constantinople-based Roman Empire that persisted into medieval times. Continue reading

Art in the transition to the Classical era

So far all the art I’ve looked at is primitive and flat – there is no sense of portraying three dimensions in two.

Things get more interesting as people start living in cities. (I’m looking here at the Mediterranean and Middle East.) There’s still a lot of flat art, but also a lot of people portrayed in detail in organized scenes. You may get people or animals directly behind or in front of others, but it’s a simple layering that says one is behind the other, not a true sense of depth. Continue reading

Primitive art: Wall and cave paintings

What I’m looking for here is how sophisticated art is. To begin with, how good are artists from any given period at portraying three dimensions in two dimensions? Receding train tracks, or the pre-train era equivalent, indicate a minimum of late concrete operational (linear logical) thinking. So I will only be looking at drawings and paintings, not sculptures. My main source for art history is Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A global history. (Thirteenth edition, by Fred S. Kleiner, 2009. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth, but also some earlier editions, depending on what was on the library shelf at the time.)

The oldest paintings we have are from caves in Europe and the Middle East. These date from the early creative explosion (circa 30,000 years ago). Continue reading