Question 1 The Palaeolithic period, or the old stone age, stretches back from the dawn of humanity to around 9000 BCE, when it gave way to the Neolithic period, which lasted for approximately the next four thousand years before it was superseded by the bronze age…
The only art we can see from this period are the pieces that stood the test of time – to survive, according to the author, art has to have a) been made of metal or stone b) needs to have a climate that is not destructive to the works of art c) had to exist in a relatively complex society and d) had to have been produced bya society with a tendency to “cache their art” in places that are hard to access (352). The Palaeolithic cave paintings of France meet a few of these requirements – they are made on a stone surface, so will not degrade, are in caves, which provide protection from both the elements and people who may destroy the work. The Neolithic Stonehenge is made of stone, and had a complex enough society to create monumental architecture, both of which helped it survive. Works of every-day material such as wood are unlikely to survive, which eliminates our ability to understand the small scale art that every day people made in their spare time, and probably increases the quality of art that we know of. Question 2 Seeking to protect the empire from the ravishing of barbarian hordes, as well as allow for a change in focus and religion in the Roman Empire, the Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Empire from Rome to the city of Constantinople, which was constructed purely for this purpose (378). This shift coincided with an edict allowing Christianity to be freely practiced in the Roman empire, which later would be followed by edicts making Christianity the sole religion of the Roman Empire. To better aid management of this massive empire, it was split into two different ones, the Western, based in Rome, and the Eastern, based in Constantinople, which would have immense affects on art and culture. The two empires grew culturally distinct, with the east speaking Greek instead of Latin, and religious divisions followed, creating the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox religious respectively. Art in the Western Half tended to follow traditionally Roman precedents, like St. Peter’s basilica which is styled after a Roman forum, whereas art in the East developed a novel Greek style. As the western half of the empire fell, the art in that region was predominated by the Northern Germanic animal style, which eventually combined with Christianity to inform Carolingian art, named after Charlemagne, one of the most famous Frankish kings (385). Following this style of art, Romanesque art developed, which was a conscious look back on and imitation of older Roman forms. This form was followed by Gothic, which featured a number of architectural advancements (such as thinner walls and flying buttresses) which allowed for the building of light, airy buildings without thick walls and substantial pillaring, as demonstrated by Notre Dame de Paris (389). Question Three Cultures use monumental art as a way of expressing their power, their religion and the will of their people. When comparing Stonehenge with the Colloseum, it becomes apparent that though these works differ significantly in artistic principles and primary purpose, they both fulfill the same roles as works of monumental architecture. Stonehenge was created in the Neolithic period by a pagan people who probably cared deeply about the passing of the stars. It works as a form of monumental calendar, and probably had significant religious intent (354). It consists of a series of state lines, arranged in concentric circles – ...
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