How Art Helps Us Understand History

Since the beginning of time, art has helped us better understand our history and culture. It has been a window into our past by depicting historical events, culture, and everyday life. This article will discover how different art mediums have shown aspects of the people who came before us.

Documentation of Events and Achievements.

Art has been used for documentation and to commemorate military prowess for a long time. Military Statues, paintings and engravings have been widely used worldwide as permanent art pieces, depicting victory over another country or an occurrence of significant events, for example,  Asian canvas prints use symbolism to document and depict tumultuous or celebratory periods in their history.

The arts were also inherently used for propaganda and commemoration as they were often commissioned to promote political agendas or commemorate historical figures and political parties.

Other than just mere documentation. Art can express emotions and the atmosphere surrounding an event. It can express and depict chaos, fear and other emotions which can help us better understand the past which written facts and accounts can not.

Preservation of Culture and Values.

We can observe the culture and values of a specific era through fashion and religious art/architecture. By studying clothing depicted in art pieces, one can gain an insight into social status, customs, and prevailing fashion trends of a particular era.

Fashion and art paintings can also show us what materials were abundant and commonly used by a specific civilisation. It can depict the wealth of a country as well as its people’s personalities.

Art paintings can show us whether there was a hierarchal order to a country or a civilisation’s rule and how it was governed and set up. This can give us an insight into the mentality of its rulers, its people and their goals in life.

Religious structures, sculptures, and paintings depict rituals and stories that shed light on the belief systems and values of a civilization. Their art can picturise their deities and their obligations to them which helps us immensely in better understanding them and the context of their day-to-day operations.

Revealing Social Realities

Artwork depicting everyday life, social interactions and the hardships faced by the common people can act as social commentary on the specific period and people. It can give us a glimpse as to what were they like how they acted as a society and their mentality.

 Art can also give us a visual representation of the technology that was available at that time and how it was used. Understanding hardships and day-to-day behaviour.

Art also holds the power to portray social injustice and critique prevalent norms. Political cartoons and satirical works can reveal the social and political climate of a specific era. It can depict whether one was a cruel or just ruler or whether they used slavery for their grunt work.

Gender roles and the evolution of gender roles can also be seen depicted in art throughout history. The portrayal of a woman and men through their clothing, activities, and expressions, reflects the prevailing gender roles and expectations of society.

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