also known as art historiography
Art history is the study of the visual arts over time, as it pertains to the various cultures and historical periods from which they come.
Traditionally our society’s concept of the history of art focused on Western civilization, and mainly included artworks commissioned by powerful public institutions, religious bodies, or private individuals. Because of this, the field of study provided a strong linear narrative to understand the origins and evolution of Western civilization, but was incredibly limited in scope and highly selective in what it chose to include in its canon. With the rise of the belief in cultural relativism in the contemporary era however, art historiography has made modest efforts to be inclusive of non-Western art, art made by women, art of nonstandard mediums, and the vernacular art of everyday people.
The general outline of art history is normally broken down into various overarching periods, and then from there broken down into various smaller periods or styles. However artistic conventions in general tend to change gradually over time rather, and are often categorized by other people centuries after the fact, making these fairly relative.
- Early Civilization
- Classical Antiquity
- Middle Ages