The history of art is a vast story of human creativity, a record of our passions and struggles from before written history through today. Obelisk is a free, online art history textbook, sharing the wild, tragic and inspiring stories of artists and their work from 30,000 BCE through Modern Art. Obelisk is designed for discovery, a cross-linked web of artworks, biographies and writings — a choose-your-own-adventure where every path leads you to something new and interesting.
There are a lot of ways to explore. We recommend meeting the artists, discovering artwork, or exploring the timeline. But if you'd like to learn more about how to look at and understand art, the next few pages describe the visual language of art, the ways we can understand it, and why art is important. So dig in!
Reed Enger, "Introduction to Art, 30,000 years of human creativity," in Obelisk Art History, Published June 24, 2017; last modified May 17, 2021, http://arthistoryproject.com/essays/introduction-to-art/.