Why is Art History Important? Essay

Behind the greatest civilization and technological advances that is prominent in the world today, lies the rich historical legacy left behind our great ancestors. This great legacy shared to us is visible through the magnificent forms of ancient art. These forms of art are the best and most accurate descriptive tools that can bridge the present generation to our ancestor’s impressive life furing the past. While art history effectively depicts the life in the past era, it has also become a powerful and influential tool that guides modern artists in crafting their own works of art.

The massive importance of ancient art is widely reflected by the comtemporary society’s dependence on ancient art (Fabian 1993). This influence can be seen not only in visual art, but also in literature and writings. Cave Art made during the Paleolithic Era is one of the most distinctive forms of art. The Paleolithic Era arts were produced during the last Ice Age, approximately 32,000 to 11,000 years ago (Heindorff 2006). These cave arts came in forms of paintings, engravings and drawings.

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There are about 280 decorated caves that featured these arts. The pictures depicted in cave arts represented primitive forms of calendars, almanac and tribal ceremonies that ancient people had indulged in. These arts are monumental figures that stood to forever reminisce the richness of culture that was prevalent in the era. Another Paleolithic relic is the Willendorf Statue forged around 25,000 to 30,000 B. C. It was also called as the “Paleolithic Venus image. The figure possessed by the statue was a symbol of bounty of nature and abundance. The tribes during the era looked up to the statue with reverence as it depicted wealth and blessings (“Venus of Willendorf Statue”). In addition, the figure was also used as a symbol of fertility and classical beauty. Aside from the symbolic purposes that the figure served, it was also distinctively important for the people who lived during the era especially for the women.

The statue, as anthropologists believed, represented women and their importance in the tribe. It was a sign of ancient matriarchy which meant that during these times, women were indeed important in the society. Another distinguished work of art is the Stonehenge. The Stonehenge during the Neolithic England was one of the most celebrated and praised works of art. Stonehenge was used as prehistoric monuments, thus becoming one of the most famous and oldest prehistoric sites in the world.

These standing stones were believed to have been built around 2200 B. C. It was assumed that these monumental stones also served as burial sites during 3000 B. C. However, throughout history it is believed that these monuments were not standing constant, rather it served a continuous purpose. Historians and archeologists believed that the purpose of these stonehenges varied – that people during the past eras have made use of the prevalent works of art to signify their forms of subsistence (“Stonehenge: Wiltshire England”).

It evolved simultaneous to the cultural transition experienced during the era. Hence, this feature added to the distinctive characteristics of the Stonehenges. The Cave Art, Willendorf Statue and Stonehenges are three of the most famous and distinctive works of art that the world has ever seen. It served different purposes based on the prevalent culture during the era when it was created, and based on the tribes who made them. Nonetheless, they depicted and catered to the needs of the people living during that generation.

As such, the way that those forms of art have been of massive importance during the era that it served, the influence it bestowed in the present generation is equally celebrated. And by tracing the roots of these works of art, the purposed that they served and still wish to impart upon the younger generations is not wasted. Thus, it is necessary that art history and the way it links us to the past should never take a backseat in the present era.

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