The Art of the Western World

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11797

We can tell a bit about a society and culture by the art they produce. A walk through a virtual art gallery can be a virtual walk through history. Study and write about Western art and its changes!


Visual Arts, World

Fine Arts
learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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If you were to study the history of Western art, it would take you weeks, months, or even years.

It might be wise to start with a big-picture overview like this time-lapse video.

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  • How has art changed over the centuries?

The world is a mighty big place, and its history is littered with intricacies beyond the words of any textbook.

If you were to study the entire history of the world, it would be an impossible task. History needs to be divided into manageable parts, and that's why it is broken into parts according to geographic location, period, and theme.

Literature and art from specific geographic locations and periods are used to fill in the gaps of untold stories and to help us more fully understand the lives of those who came before us.

Applying this strategy of chunking the past into location and era helps us understand the history of art. The nations and peoples of the world have many remarkable artworks that inspire with their beauty and vision.

In this lesson, closely examine the history of just one tradition in the history of art: Western art.

Western art is the artistic traditions that grew from Western civilizations.

  • What does Western civilizations or Western cultures mean?

Explore A brief history of Western culture to collect some ideas about what makes the West a region or civilization that can be studied. Write down information and ideas to answer the following questions as you read.

  • What are the geographic boundaries of the West ?
  • What cultural and other elements connect the people of Western civilization?
  • Why is Chinese art or Pacific Islander art not part of the Western artistic tradition?

After reading, consider these additional questions.

  • Why would it be useful to study the art of a single civilization?
  • Why might it be useful to compare art across civilizations?
  • What are the different types of art that have arisen in the history of Western civilization?

Now that you have examined the idea of Western civilization, you can focus on the art that this civilization produced.

Continue to the Got It? section to examine works of art and create an art history timeline.

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