In point of fact, art has been an integral part of human sociology since time immemorial. Paintings are associated with different parts of history. The nature of paintings has been on an evolutionary trend since the dark ages (410 – 1066) AD. The medieval paintings are associated with the Middle Ages (1066 – 1485) and are prominently linked to the Roman Empire. Broadly, art can be divided into two – fine art and decorative art. Paintings fall under the former category. Medieval paintings are prominently associated with European artists, in the western part of the big Roman Empire, and the eastern part, commonly referred to as the orthodox region (Cels 76). When the Roman Empire split into the east and the western parts, art in either region took a different trend. The main differences between art works from the two regions showed the differences between the development of the Catholic Church and the Byzantine Empire, which was basically the eastern part of the Roman Empire.
Medieval art represented aspects of religion and idealism. Historians have defined the paintings as being so much focused on idealism, since the figure in them espouse a great degree of perfection rather than real human features (Middle Ages Art 1). Medieval paintings prominently feature pious figures and people that were associated with the Christian religions. The paintings were a part of byzantine art, an early form of art that was simple and one-dimensional. Worth mentioning at this point is the reality that medieval societies preferred paintings to such art works as sculptures because, according to the highly religious communities back then, sculptures were associated with idol worship – a practice that Christianity strongly opposed. It is as well important to mention that in the medieval ages, religion influenced art to a great extent because religious doctrines were more established that the legal structures. As such, religion, and mainly Christianity dictated virtually everything.
Perhaps the most common characteristic of medieval art is the actuality that most of the paintings were pietistic. Pietistic art is any form of art that prominently embraces religion and holiness. The main Christian denominations behind this feature were the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Majority of the artists were members of religious affiliations, such as the monasteries, which were powerful institutions back in the day (Middle Ages Art 1). Following the religious nature of the paintings, the tone and overall mood of the pictures was a somber one. Artists have associated this tone with the worshiping and prayerful mood of the Christians. Notably, the paintings were one dimensional and quite simple compared to the paintings of the modern age. It has been noted that all paintings associated with the medieval age did not have shadows and were front facing. Being one dimensional, they were not complex enough to provide for such features as shadows. Lack of such shadows and other features made the paintings comparatively less informative.
The failure of the early paintings to indicate human beings and animals in their real forms made most paintings appear fabricated. Even so, the paintings were detailed to the extent of showing movement of the subjects. Speaking of movement, some medieval paintings included spaceships with people inside them (Inglis-Arkel 1). Historians and scientists have argued that the spaceships on the paintings are an explication that just like in the modern times, the people of the middle ages saw comets, heavenly bodies and other Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). The spaceships and flying saucers, according the analysts of art and historical information were more common in the Middle Ages than they are today. Apparently, the medieval paintings are quite informative as they tend to explain the relationship between outer space and the universe. For instance, the paintings show that there are other creatures from outer space that have technologically advanced than man. This is explained by the fact that such creatures had invented spaceships, but man had not yet come up with such technology.
The paintings from the later middle ages were in such a manner that they appeared more sophisticated than the paintings from the early middle ages. The paintings of the later middle ages used brighter colors and more secondary colors. Notably, the earlier pictures used primary colors, and most of them were black and white. This deprived them of the informatory powers as some elements could not be interpreted. The paintings indicated light and shadows. The inclusion of such features made the pictures more informative since they could convey such messages as the direction of the sun, the time of the day, the weather and so on (Cels 116). This, coupled with symmetry made the pictures more real than the perfect paintings that appeared ideal. Symmetry brought about and aspect of balance in the paintings.
In conclusion, it is clearly noteworthy that, from the foregoing explanations and detailed descriptions, medieval art is associated with the Roman Empire and, more especially the Roman Empire. The paintings were highly influenced by religion and were pietistic in nature. The paintings of the middle ages can be categorized as those of the early middle ages and those of the late middle ages. The evolutionary trend saw the medieval paintings change from elementary, idealistic art works to complex and more realistic works. The features differentiating the two are: color, light and shadows, symmetry and the fact that the later paintings were more secular than the earlier ones.
Cels, Marc. Arts and Literature in the Middle Ages. New York, N.Y: Crabtree Pub. Co, 2005. Print.
Inglis-Arkel, Estherl. “Why are there spaceships in Medieval art?” Secret History. 2013. Internet Source. http://io9.com/5917914/why-are-there-spaceships-in-medieval-art
Middle Ages Art retrieved from: http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/middle-ages-art.htm