Mrs. Luke's Visual Arts

Cultural Arts Page


Paleolithic-The "Paleolithic" era, which means old stone, occurred from 30,000-10,000 BC. People of the Paleolithic era created art that was usually stylized and linear. Paleolithic artists created murals (wall paintings) using natural resources such as ashes, charcoal, plant extracts, and animal byproducts.
Paleolithic people were carving into clay. They also had jewelry made of stone, bone, and shells. It is unknown if they understood the concept of weaving. No evidence of weaving has been found; however, it is possible. The string/fibers holding the necklace pictured in our book was missing due to decay; therefore, it is likely that any evidence of weaving may have deteriorated also.
It is theorized that Paleolithic people created their cave paintings and sculpture to help bring about successful hunts. This theory is called Sympathetic Magic. For example, a hunter would carve or paint a bison if he wanted to eat a bison for super. With luck he would go out and bring home the bison.
Neolithic-The "Neolithic" era, which means new stone, occurred from 10,000-2,300 BC. The Neolithic people built houses above the ground, domesticated animals, and grew crops for food. It is known that people beyond the Neolithic era were knowledgeable of the craft of weaving. Some early examples of Neolithic homes are shown below.
Skara Brae in Scotland was built into the ground by removing soil and stacking stones. The stones served as an interior wall and the natural landscape helped reduce the effects of the weather.
The 4 earliest civilizations are:
Mesopotamia- Ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia created the first form of writing known as cuneiform. They used a wedge-shaped stylus to scratch symbols into clay tablets. They understood how to control the floods of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. This was an awesome agricultural achievement for that time.
Writing was later combined with pictures in the Code of Hammurabi. The Code of Hammurabi is a public document stating the law of that time. Words cover the bottom and the full back side of the stele. The relief at the top features a picture of Hammurabi - the king of Babylon - and one of his gods. The god is shown giving laws to the king.
A ziggurat is a stepped mountain of brick-covered earth. A temple honoring the cities patron god or goddess was on the top. This structure was a component of early urban planning.

India- Mohenjo-Daro, meaning “hill of the dead”, was an ancient city, and it was made of stacked bricks. It is an early example of urban planning. Urban planning is the arranging of the construction and services of a city to meet its people’s needs. This city was planned so that it had wide streets, homes, shops, and large buildings which are thought to be houses of worship. Mohenjo-Daro is located in modern day Pakistan.
China- Ancient Chinese culture emerged along the yellow river and its history is divided into dynasties (ruling families of emperors). Ancient Chinese art focused on nature much like the art of recent history.
Egypt- Ancient Egypt was ruled by dynasties also. The kings were not called emperors though. An ancient Egyptian king was called pharaoh. When the pharaoh died, his body would be placed in a tomb that is commonly known as a pyramid.
Ancient Egyptian artists had strict rules to follow. This is why most Egyptian artwork looks like it was done by the same artist. All artists depicted people in their work with a frontal view of the eye and shoulders and the rest of the body was shown as if it was a side view. No ancient Egyptian artist was allowed to sign his work.
Middle Ages-Romanesque-1050-1150
The Romanesque period focused on expression. Much of work is stylized and linear. Castles are from the Romanesque period. They were built for protected of the people inside. It was nothing unusual for a castle’s walls to be 30’ thick and 100’ high.
Few windows could be used because the use of windows made the structure weak. Corner towers were square in the beginning of the Romanesque period, but eventually it was realized that the corners caused blind spots. Round towers gave a better view of what was going on below.
Another common art form was illuminations. Illuminations are hand-painted illustrations. Monks labored for hours painting the borders, initial letters, and the pictures featured on the vellum, parchment, or papyrus pages. Eventually papyrus supply was cut off due to the Crusades. The stories in the books were hand-written using calligraphy until Guttenberg’s printing press gained popularity.
Middle Ages-Gothic-1150-1500
The Gothic period focused on humanism. The work of that time was more lifelike and realistic.
Cathedrals were taking the place of castles as people began to move into the cities for protection. Due to the use of flying buttresses (exterior wall supports), more windows were allowed to be included in the architecture. Stained glass was used in the cross shaped cathedrals. The stained glass allowed light in as it also depicted stories from the Bible.
Inside the Gothic cathedrals the pointed arch replaced the rounded Romanesque arches. The pointed arch gave the illusion of greater height. On the outside, gargoyles acted as rain diverters. These concrete and metal structures were made to look like evil spirits fleeing from the cathedral rooftops.
The most famous artist of this time was Giotto. Most of his work was created in fresco.
The word renaissance is French meaning “rebirth”. The renaissance was a time of great awakening in many areas including art, literature, science, etc. Masaccio picked up were Giotto left off. His architect friend, Brunelleschi, discovered and showed Masaccio how to use linear perspective. Oil paint from the North and Linear Perspective are two major inventions of the Renaissance. The four masters are Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael. The Renaissance began in Florence, Italy and spread to the northern parts of Europe.


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