The millennium between 400 and 1400 A.D. is sometimes referred to as 'The Dark Ages'. This period was relatively 'dark' in the art world, as well. Although much of the art of the period focused on religious imagery, a lot depicts rather grotesque, or otherwise brutal, scenes.
As the millennium passed, more and more Christian and Catholic art appeared. The many elaborate and ornate churches built during this time needed artwork to adorn their architecture. The Gothic and Romanesque styles of the day. This art period, known as Gothic or Romanesque, typically featured images of devils and demons.
The Renaissance followed the Medieval period, and lasted from about 1400 to the 19th century. Many of the art world's 'masters' (such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, and Rembrandt, to name a few) are from this period.
Much of the notable art created during the Renaissance was Italian. It began with the famous 15th-century artists like Brunelleschi and Donatello, and includes the work of Botticelli and Alberti. During the next century, sometimes called the High Rennaissance, the artists we think of today as the 'masters', such as Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael, created some of the world's most cherished works of art.
By the 1700s, the pace of change began to quicken, as various styles appeared in quick succession. These movements included Rococo and Neo-Classicism, followed by Romanticism, Realism, and Impressionism, as well as many lesser-known styles.
In China, this same period was the time of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In Japan, they were known as the Momoyama and Edo Periods. And in the Americas, the Aztec and Inca civilizations were creating their own distinct art during this same time period.
The art known as Modern Art was created roughly from the mid 18th through the mid 19th centuries. A few artists of the time, such as Picasso and Duchamp, were themselves responsible for creating multiple movements. If one were to try to distill them all, it could be said that this was the period that saw the birth and development of 'Abstract Art'.
The last two decades of the 1800's, alone, saw numerous separate movements including Cloisonnism, Japonism, Neo-Impressionism, Symbolism, Expressionism, and Fauvism. There were also a number of schools and groups, such as The Glasgow Boys, The Heidelberg School, The Band Noire (Nubians), and The Ten American Painters.
Various art movements were no less diverse or confusing in the 1900's. Art Nouveau and Cubism kicked off the new century, with Bauhaus, Dadaism, Purism, Rayism, and Suprematism following close behind. Art Deco, Constructivism, and the Harlem Renaissance took over the 1920's. Then, Abstract Expressionism emerged in the 1940's.
'By mid-century, we saw even more revolutionary styles. Funk and Junk Art, Hard-Edge Painting, and Pop Art became the norm in the 50s. The 60's were filled with Minimalism, Op Art, Psychedelic Art, and much, much more.
'The 1970's heralded the beginning of what most people consider as 'Contemporary Art', and it continues to the present day. But Contemporary Art can be 'subdivided' into Post-Modernism, Ugly Realism, Feminist Art, Neo-Conceptualism, and Neo-Expressionism, Neo-Geo, Multiculturalism, and the Graffiti Movement, as well as BritArt and Neo-Pop.
By the time the 90s hit, art movements became less defined and somewhat unusual, almost as if people had run out of names. Net Art, Artefactoria, Toyism, Lowbrow, Bitterism, and Stuckism are some of the styles of the decade. And though it's still new, the 21st century has its own Thinkism and Funism to enjoy.
I invite you to have a look at some of my artwork, and see if you can decide where it fits in the context of all these 'movements'.