Art of the early modern period

We live in a world in which our lives are influenced by technology, modern forms of communication, and a flood of images of all kinds. But when did our "modern" world actually begin? This historical period is referred to by a term which relates to the vast changes in science, technology, politics, culture, and thought which occurred between the 15th century and the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. This important era of the history of civilization is called the early modern age and it includes two great art-historical periods, the Renaissance and the baroque.

The early modern period was an era of profound change, fascinating discoveries, and new technologies, an age of the increase in the importance of education and communication, new forms of government, and also global relations across a shrinking world. Art and visual culture of the Renaissance and the baroque not only reflected these changes but also helped to shape and form them in many ways. The art of the early modern times is, therefore, an important key to understanding the mentality and life of the past eras and through them also understanding the present. Therefore, since the beginnings of the Department of Art History more than ninety years ago, this period has been an essential part of the studies and of scientific research itself. Not only teachers (the founder of the Department Eugen Dostál, professors Václav Richter, Zdeněk Kudělka, Ivo Krsek, Miloš Stehlík, after 1989 Jiří Kroupa and Lubomír Slavíček) but also a whole range of their students and graduates contributed to the understanding of this significant period in art history.

By looking at the artwork of the past and exploring its forms, symbolism, colours or applied techniques and materials, we can learn much not only about artists but especially about the society for which these objects were created. Works of art offer different perspectives and provide contemporary viewers with a comprehensive idea of events, contexts and especially people, their motivations, desires, and dreams. By exploring works of art, comparing them and searching for their hidden meanings, we can come closer to our ancestors, whose knowledge and experiences were often quite different from ours, but in many ways also surprisingly similar. Looking at art allows us to learn how people gain their knowledge and inspiration and how they perceive, feel and see the world around them.

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