My preoccupation with the visual arts continues. I have produced a chronological history of painting and sculpture using the meta-list I created from 15 separate ‘best works of art’ lists: my own personal Art History 101. Unlike my list Best Works of Art of All Time – The Critics’ Picks, which includes works on three or more of the 15 original lists, this new configuration includes works on two or more of the lists, which added nearly 300 works of art to the total list. For convenience, I’ve divided the chronological list in two – the first starts with the Paleolithic era, 30,000 BCE or so, and ends in 1599 when the Renaissance was ending. The second list takes art from 1600 to the present. I’ve tried to include public domain images for all the works that are not already included on the “Best Works of Art of All Time” list.
Why chronological? It is not necessarily because I believe that art has improved or become better over time, although some eras and regions seem to have had more technically skilled artists than others – perhaps because of superior art education and training opportunities – but I don’t think art evolved from worse to better (or from better to worse, for that matter). I do see evolution in the non-teleological sense: one discovery led to another, a style influenced some to imitate it, others to rebel against it. Exposure to art of other cultures invigorated some artists to break barriers, and changes in socioeconomic conditions and technology (particularly the invention of photography) influenced both subject matter and style. So while other organizing principles (alphabetical by artist name; geographic location of art work) might produce some fascinating and unexpected juxtapositions (stay tuned), for now I’m sticking with chronological order. Here are the links: