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330 Art History Trivia Questions, Answers, and Fun Facts

How much do you know about Art History? This category is for trivia questions and answers related to Art History (Humanities). Each one is filled with fun facts and interesting information.
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1 Cubism was a significant art movement of the early 20th century. Which two artists pioneered this style of painting?
Answer: Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso

The Cubism art movement began in France about 1907 and was pioneered by the artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. The style gets the name Cubism because the items represented in the pictures were made out of cubes and other geometrical shapes. Picasso and Braque developed this style because they believed artists should not just present realistic artwork but show every part of the whole subject. Prominent Cubist painters include Juan Gris, Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, and Andre Lhote.
    Your options: [ Marcel Duchamp and Juan Gris ] [ Juan Gris and Pablo Picasso ] [ Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso ] [ Fernand Leger and Marcel Duchamp ]
  From Quiz: Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
2 The Italian precursor to what art movement was characterised by a greater awareness of the beauty of the world and of the spiritual value of nature?
Answer: Renaissance

The early Renaissance period commenced in the late 14th century and was encouraged by the clergy and aristocracy alike. It reached its peak in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Proponents of this art period were Michelangelo, Hugo van der Goes, Leonardo and Sandro Botticelli. The movement was characterised by a belief among some that it was possible to achieve a mystical union with God by the contemplation of beauty.
  From Quiz: Art Movements Over the Centuries
3 Which artist, often considered to be the first of the Renaissance artists, was commissioned, in around 1305, to paint the frescos in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua?
Answer: Giotto

The chapel, and its decorations, were commissioned by Enrico Scrovegni, who was a member of a banking family. Money lending was considered to be sinful, particularly if interest was high, and the building of the chapel is often considered to be Scrovegni's penance. Giotto painted a series of scenes from the lives of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, which are truly stunningly beautiful. Giotto di Bondone, to give him his full name, was the pioneer in the change of style from Byzantine art to the more realistic depiction of figures associated with the Renaissance.

The other artists were all rather later - Fra Angelico and Masaccio were fifteenth century and Titian was active in the sixteenth century.
    Your options: [ Fra Angelico ] [ Titian ] [ Masaccio ] [ Giotto ]
  From Quiz: Sign on the Dotted Line
4 In the early 20th century, Abstract art emerged as a new way to represent things through the disassociation of matter. Known for his "Composition" series, who is generally considered to be the pioneer of the movement?
Answer: Wassily Kandinsky

Contrary to popular belief, Pablo Picasso did not invent Abstract art. Russian painter Wassily Kandinksy was the first person to break down his paintings into completely non-representational forms. His first abstract paintings came about in 1910, including the first of his ten "Compositions". "Composition VIII", the most famous of them, is a purely geometrical study of musical forms in distorted space.

While Matisse aided in the development of Fauvism, his art didn't become more abstract until the years after 1910. Dali was a Surrealist who came later on, and Pollock was an abstract expressionist who hadn't even been born yet.
  From Quiz: State of the Art
5 One of the best known sculptures from pre-historic times is a small figurine of a very voluptuous female. Sculptures of this sort have been found in Central Europe. This famous lady has been given what name?
Answer: Venus of Willendorf

This figure seems to be a collection of balls arranged, in the round, in a female figure. It is believed to be not any particular woman, but, instead, a symbol of fertility. She is 4 1/8 inches high, made of limestone, and dates from about 28,000-25,000 B.C. (Her hair looks like it's curled or braided, and wrapped around her head).
  From Quiz: Art of the Ancients
6 Perhaps the most infamous painting of the 1913 Armory Show, what "cubo-futurist" painting of the human figure by Marcel Duchamp was described by one critical viewer as "an explosion in a shingle factory"?
Answer: Nude Descending a Staircase

When we look at images of Marcel Duchamp's painting today, it is difficult to understand why it inspired such shock and passionate controversy. This certainly was not because the figure was nude, since only the suggestion of movement and structure are represented in a series of abstract panels in shades of brown. It has been called "cubo-futurist" because it was inspired both by the cubists, who similarly shattered visual assumptions, and the futurists, whose very name inspired the fear that the future of modern art was being pushed down a slippery slope toward aesthetic anarchy.
  From Quiz: The 1913 Armory Show
7 In 1954 Graham Sutherland painted a portrait of a British statesman that the subject absolutely hated. Who was he?
Answer: Winston Churchill

The Sutherland portrait of Churchill showed him as an old man, and because of this Churchill hated it. After he was presented with it, the painting disappeared from view for many years, and it was later revealed that, after his death, Lady Churchill had in fact destroyed it. Graham Sutherland was viewed as one of Britain's leading artists in the post-war era, and this destruction was seen as an act of vandalism. Although the portrait itself no longer exists various studies and sketches done for it do survive.
  From Quiz: Controversial Works of Art
8 Who is considered the first great American landscape painter?
Answer: Thomas Cole

Thomas Cole (1801-1848) was born in England and immigrated to the United States in 1818. Many consider him to be America's first great landscape painter. He painted the Niagara Falls as well as many scenes from nature.
  From Quiz: Early American Art
9 Early humans carved statues of a goddess, which shows that they practiced an early form of religion. Where do anthropologists believe the first humans originated?
Answer: East Africa

The earliest hominid fossils on record came from the East African Rift.
    Your options: [ The Middle East ] [ East Africa ] [ West Africa ] [ South Africa ]
  From Quiz: The Arts and Western Civilization
10 Painter-monk Fra Filippo Lippi (1406-69) is said to have broken his vows in spectacular fashion. What did he do?
Answer: He ran off with a nun

Here's a favorite tale that hasn't been fully verified. Orphaned as a toddler, the Florentine Lippi became a child novice at the Carmine monastery. However, he proved unsuited to religious life, not least because he liked girls -- a lot. Allowed to train as an artist, he eventually fell in love with a beauteous novice nun named Lucrezia Buti and eloped with her. (If, as some people think, she was the model for the "Madonna and Child with Angels" in the Uffizi, then Lippi can hardly be blamed!) The couple produced two children, including the painter Filippino, and Lippi became the teacher of Sandro Botticelli. One story has it that he refused a chance to be laicized, so he could marry Lucrezia, since he felt marriage might interfere with his ongoing pursuit of whatever pretty women happened to catch his eye. By the way, Lippi claimed to have been kidnapped by pirates at one point and to have spent months as a slave to a Moorish prince. Well, maybe.
  From Quiz: Art History Behind the Scenes II
11 Perhaps one of the most intriguing things found in the cave paintings in La grotte Chauvet in Ardeche,France from 20,000 to 17,000 years ago was the depiction of which animal?
Answer: A rhinoceros

Rhinos apparently existed in the area at the time the paintings were done. You don't see too many now however except of course in zoo parks. There were also lions in the depictions.
    Your options: [ A monkey ] [ A dragon ] [ An elephant ] [ A rhinoceros ]
  From Quiz: Art History Creature Feature
12 The Precolumbian culture best known for stirrup spout vessels and realistic ceramic portraiture is ____________.
Answer: Moche

The Moche culture existed from 1 to 700 CE in Peru. Aside from stirrup spout vessels and realistic ceramic portraiture, the Moche are also well known for effigy vessles.
    Your options: [ Inca ] [ Maya ] [ Chavin ] [ Moche ]
  From Quiz: Art Challenge
13 During the Early Christian/Byzantine era, two styles of church construction were developed. What were they?
Answer: Basilican and Domed

These two styles of church construction would dominate Europe for the next 1000 years. The basilican design focuses the worshiper's attention to the end of the church, and is the standard model for the western style cathedral. The domed style was prevalent in Eastern Christian designs. They focus the attention to the center of the church. Many times they were octagonal to represent the spiritual quality of the number 8. The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is a cross between the two styles.
  From Quiz: More Art History Questions
14 The Temple of Aman-Re in Karnak, Egypt does/did NOT have this feature:
Answer: Barrel vault

The vaulting technique was not developed until the Romans perfected the use of concrete, long after the Temple of Aman-Re was erected.
    Your options: [ Barrel vault ] [ Clerestory ] [ Hypostyle hall ] [ Post and lintel structure ]
  From Quiz: Western Art: 4000BC - 2000AD
15 There have been many artists who have also been family members. What was the first name of the brother of Jan van Eyck?
Answer: Hubert

These brothers pioneered oil painting. In fact, after Hubert's death in 1426, members of the local church in Ghent put his arm in a reliquary.
  From Quiz: Art History Questions
16 Which Dutch city, famous for its blue painted pottery, was home to Johannes Vermeer?
Answer: Delft

Vermeer was somewhat well known in his region of Delft and The Hague during his life, but sank into obscurity after his death in 1675. He was rediscovered in the mid 19th century, and now is considered one of the great painters of the Dutch Golden Age.
    Your options: [ Utrecht ] [ Rotterdam ] [ Amsterdam ] [ Delft ]
  From Quiz: An Art History Hodgepodge
17 Can you name this Spanish born Cubist artist whose name means grey in French?
Answer: Gris

Juan Gris (1887-1927)
  From Quiz: Another Art History Challenge
18 This artist's name means bird and he was known for his fantastic frescoes and love of perspective devices. Some common themes: hunt, battles, trompe l'oeil.
Answer: Uccello
    Your options: [ Lippi ] [ Botticelli ] [ Castagno ] [ Uccello ]
  From Quiz: Art History Challenge
19 Who painted (or engraved, rather) the 'Fall of Man'?
Answer: Durer

This engraving was created by Albrecht Durer.
  From Quiz: Art History
20 Who is the architect of S. Giorgio Maggiore in Venice?
Answer: Andrea Palladio

Most famous for his villas, Palladio designed S. Giorgio Maggiore in 1565.
  From Quiz: General Challenge
21 What artist cut off part of his ear in an irrational moment?
Answer: Van Gogh
  From Quiz: Art History Trivia
22 The art form of Surrealism began in the early 1920s. Which famous Surrealist painter produced the artwork "The Persistence of Memory"?
Answer: Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali was born in Spain in 1904. He explored many different types of art before becoming interested in Surrealism, an art movement that translates as "above realism". It was believed that the subconscious mind held the key to finding the truth. He painted "The Persistence of Memory" in 1931, possibly the most famous painting of the Surrealist movement.
    Your options: [ Paul Klee ] [ Rene Magritte ] [ Salvador Dali ] [ Marc Chagall ]
  From Quiz: Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
23 Donatello was commissioned by Cosimo de' Medici to create a bronze sculpture of Judith and Holofernes. In which city was the sculpture originally displayed, where it can still be seen in the early twenty-first century?
Answer: Florence

The Medici family were renowned as patrons of the arts, and were the political leaders of Florence. Medici had already commissioned a bronze 'David' from Donatello, which was completed in around 1430. This is on display in the Bargello art museum in Florence in the early twenty-first century. The commission for 'Judith and Holofernes' came in 1460 and the statue was originally on display, with 'David', at the Medici palace. It was later moved to the Piazza della Signoria and is now (2015) on display inside the Palazzo Vecchio.
    Your options: [ Rome ] [ Naples ] [ Siena ] [ Florence ]
  From Quiz: Sign on the Dotted Line
24 Prehistoric cave art of Europe, usually known as cave paintings, usually depict animals. What animal would you probably not see in a cave painting?
Answer: Pterodactyl

All three of the wrong answers are known in cave paintings, even the spotted horse. The Pterodactyl lived in a time before humans. Cave art can be seen in several locations in France, and in rock shelters in Spain. Other areas of the world also have prehistoric rock art that can still be seen.
  From Quiz: Art of the Ancients
25 In 1997 a portrait of Myra Hindley was put on display at the Royal Academy of Art. What was controversial about it?
Answer: It was made up of the hand prints of children

Marcus Harvey's portrait of notorious child killer Myra Hindley is made up entirely of the hand prints of children. This caused outrage, especially amongst the families of her victims. The portrait was attacked several times, having eggs thrown at it and ink spattered over it. In fact it is quite a menacing picture, and critics have argued that the use of the hand prints shows up the enormity of her crimes.
  From Quiz: Controversial Works of Art
26 What was the name of the artist who was hired by "Harper's Magazine" to go to battles and paint Civil War scenes?
Answer: Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer (1836-1910) painted wilderness, the tropics, the sea, and the creatures of the world. During the Civil War, he was hired by "Harper's Magazine" to join the Union Army near the front and to send drawings to New York for publication.
  From Quiz: Early American Art
27 What is the name of the Ancient Egyptian architect who designed and oversaw construction of the Stepped Pyramid of Djoser around 2600 B.C.?
Answer: Imhotep

Senmut was the architect who designed Queen Hatshepsut's funerary complex at Deir-el-Bahri. Menkaure and Khufu were both pharaohs from the Old Kingdom who commissioned two of the three pyramids at Giza (the other being commissioned by Khafre).
  From Quiz: Early Western Art
28 The Sumerians are believed to have invented the first system of writing, which evolved from their decorations. What was this writing system called?
Answer: Cuneiform

Hieroglyphics came from the Egyptians, Ugaritic is Syrian, and Canaanite came from those alphabet masters, the Phoenicians.
    Your options: [ Hieroglyphics ] [ Cuneiform ] [ Ugaritic ] [ Canaanite ]
  From Quiz: The Arts and Western Civilization
29 Renaissance artist Piero di Cosimo (1462-1521?) ate a limited diet. On what food did he reportedly subsist for weeks at a time?
Answer: Hardboiled eggs

According to biographer Giorgio Vasari, whose pronouncements must always be taken with a pound of salt, Piero liked to boil up his eggs in batches of 50, while also cooking the glue-sizing for his paintings. Dietary deficiencies aside, Piero was definitely one of Art History's originals. Working in a satirical and eccentric style, he produced a series of paintings depicting "prehistoric" life (based on Roman author Lucretius) that are comedic, fantastic, and unfailingly inventive. A good example is "The Discovery of Honey" in the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts. (Additional culinary note: Piero could never have fried potatoes. Native to the New World, they were not introduced to Europe until the late 16th century.)
  From Quiz: Art History Behind the Scenes II
30 Statuary depicting this animal belongs to the legend of the creation of Rome, which animal is depicted? Hint, it is caring for the twins Romulus and Remus.
Answer: a she-wolf

The Capitole she-wolf bronze statue in Rome comes from the 5th century BC.
    Your options: [ a mother bear ] [ a bull ] [ a lioness ] [ a she-wolf ]
  From Quiz: Art History Creature Feature
31 The canonical form in ancient Egyptian art lasted for thousands of years. However, one XVIII Dynasty Pharaoh deviated from this form as well as from accepted religious norms. This Pharaoh was _______.
Answer: Akhenaten

Akhenaten established a new religion that focused on the sun god and established a city that he would make the capital at Tell el Amarna. Pharaohs that followed Akhenaten dismissed Akhenaten's radical changes and re-established traditional norms in art and religion.
    Your options: [ Hatshepsut ] [ Ramesses III ] [ Amenhotep ] [ Akhenaten ]
  From Quiz: Art Challenge
32 Who was the inventor of the Gothic style of architecture, and what was the first building done in this style?
Answer: Abbot Suger and St. Denis

St. Denis is a cathedral located outside of Paris. It is the traditional burial place of the French kings. When it was to be rebuilt in the 13th century, Abbot Suger sold the king on his ideas about architecture, and thus the gothic style was born.
  From Quiz: More Art History Questions
33 Why is most surviving Classical Greek sculpture made of marble?
Answer: The original bronze sculptures had intrinsic value and were melted

The Greeks preferred working in bronze. Many of the Greek sculptures we have today are marble Roman copies of original Greek bronzes. The bronzes were melted and sold during times of economic hardship.
  From Quiz: Western Art: 4000BC - 2000AD
34 Another question about the Van Eycks, on what work did both of the brothers work?
Answer: The Ghent Altarpiece

Hubert started the monumental altarpiece, but he died and it was completed by Jan. All the other works were by Jan. One of my favorites is the "Arnolfini Marriage". This work has a convex mirror in the background, giving an inverted image of the couple posing.
  From Quiz: Art History Questions
35 What period do megaliths date from?
Answer: Neolithic Period

The most famous of these megaliths is Stonehenge, located on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England.
  From Quiz: An Introduction to Art History
36 When were the engravings in the cave near Cussac, France discovered?
Answer: Sept. 20, 2000

They were found by spelunker Marc Delluc, in a previously unknown cave near the village of Cussac in southwestern France. On the walls, he discovered wonderfully detailed engravings of mammoths, ibex, birds, human figures, horses, among others.
  From Quiz: Prehistoric Artists and Rock Art
37 Name the French artist who did 'The Bride Stripped Bare of Her Bachelors, Even' and displayed a urinal once, whose name means 'of the field' in French:
Answer: Duchamp
  From Quiz: Another Art History Challenge
38 This artist's name comes from the old spelling of fox. He was primarily known for his paintings of people: women and children in particular. A typical model often had reddish hair. He spent his later life in Cagnes on the French Riviera.
Answer: Renoir

Despite his arthritic condition he managed to paint till the very end in his villa in Cagnes. You can still visit this lovely peaceful site.
    Your options: [ Picasso ] [ Rothko ] [ Matisse ] [ Renoir ]
  From Quiz: Art History Challenge
39 Who painted 'Liberty Leading the People'?
Answer: Delacroix

The artist who painted this painting is Eugene Delacroix.
  From Quiz: Art History
40 Which artist is know for his 'zip paintings' such as 'Onement I' (1948) and 'Vir Heroicus Sublimis' (1950-1)?
Answer: Barnett Newman

Newman's 'zip paintings' placed him firmly within the ranks of the New York School.
    Your options: [ Yves Klein ] [ Frank Stella ] [ Barnett Newman ] [ Morris Louis ]
  From Quiz: General Challenge
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