Throughout the exestance of man, we have been fascinated with trying to allow others to see what we see. In other words, art is an attempt to try and re-create what we see with our eyes, as well as our mind. What we see is distorted by everything we see and how our mind perceives it. Therefore, I believe it influences us as individuals to see our own deeper meaning or influence in every piece that we see. Not only do we view pieces of art for the visual stimulation they provide, but also for the meaning that is expressed. This is always influenced by society itself. A mixture of the cultural ideal of beauty, historical events (war, piece, Christianity, etc..), previous pieces of artwork, and whatever the artists' mood is at the time also influence most art. Having said this, I disagree with the premise that art has had periodic cycles of prosperity and decline.
It is true however that some works of art are more impressive than others but as a whole, I see art in a state of continuous improvement.
It is somewhat unfair for us in the 20th century to say with certainty that the quality and beauty of art is better in some periods than others. The techniques used to create art have steadily become better, as the oldest techniques have been perfected and re-perfected to influence new and better techniques. Also with the invention of new tools and technology, art has become much easier to produce.
The great thing about art is that not everyone has to like it, nor are they supposed too. Simply because a piece doesn't appeal to you, doesn't mean that it won't appeal to someone else. Take for instance the Anavyssos Kouros from Archaic Greece. This magnificent statue reflects...