top of page

AP Art History

Unit 1: c. 30,000 - 500 BCE

Global Prehistory

Images 1-11

Main Ideas:

  • Many paintings depicted wild animals, which is representative of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle

  • Many works of art were meant for burials → Represents the concept of afterlife or other religious beliefs

Unit 2: c. 3,500 BCE - 300 CE

Ancient Mediterranean

Images 12-47

Main Ideas:

  • As civilizations started to form, people appointed leaders to govern their civilizations, and they made artworks to showcase the power of their leaders, emphasizing a social hierarchy

  • As civilizations started to expand, they often had conflict with other civilizations, so people created works of art to showcase their own civilization as superior

Unit 3: c. 200 - 1750 CE

Early Europe and Colonial Americas

Images 48-97

Main Ideas:

  • As different cultural and intellectual movements sprung throughout Europe, artists sought to depict God in their artworks in different ways

  • As different entities (such as the Catholic Church, French monarchy, Spanish monarchy in America, etc.) sought to expand their power, they commissioned artworks that glorified their power

Unit 4: c. 1750 - 1980 CE

Later Europe and Americas

Images 98-152

Main Ideas:

  • As Europe and the Americas underwent rapid societal changes (such as urbanization, commercialization, imperialism, political revolutions, and world wars), works of art generally either sought to support or oppose those developments to advocate for greater harmony

Unit 5: 1000 BCE - 1980 CE

Indigenous Americas

Images 153-166

Main Ideas:

  • Before 1492, the Indigenous Americans were disconnected from Afro-Eurasia and developed their own lifestyle. This Unit's artwork showcases that unique lifestyle

  • Indigenous Americans often had much more extreme & personal relations with their Gods, and a lot of their artwork incorporates spiritual imagery to activate their Gods & natural/ancestral spirits

Unit 6: 1100 - 1980 CE


Images 167-180

Main Ideas:

  • Africa was divided into many small kinship-based societies that each had their own religion and customs based on ancestral and nature worship; this idea is represented as the artworks have these similar ideas but vary in local styles

  • As larger societies & civilizations started to form, communities commissioned artworks to showcase the wealth and power of their king and of their kingdom to encourage other neighboring people to submit to their power

Unit 7: 500 BCE - 1980 CE

West and Central Asia

Images 181-191

Main Ideas:

  • As different leaders fought for control over areas dominated by a certain religion, they patronized religion in different ways through artwork to assert their control

  • Additionally, as different religions (such as Islam & Buddhism) spread throughout major trade routes, their artworks were influenced by the different cultures they encountered

Unit 8: 300 BCE - 1980 CE

South, East, and Southeast Asia

Images 192-212

Main Ideas:

  • Temples and other religious works were built on a grand scale to allow practitioners to more easily engage with them and engage with God

  • Many smaller regions adopted the cultural framework of their larger neighbors (South Asia → Southeast Asia; China → Korea & Japan) but added their own cultural touches in their artwork

Unit 9: 700 - 1980 CE

The Pacific

Images 213-223

Main Ideas:

  • The islands' small size prevented complex civilizations from developing, so a lot of these cultures viewed anything they couldn't understand (a leader, foreigner, luxury good, etc.) as an intermediary with the divine

  • While these islands had different cultures, they shared many motifs about the sea and the natural world, which is why those themes are prevalent in their artwork

Unit 10: 1980 CE - Present

Global Contemporary

Images 224-250

Main Ideas:

  • In an era of rapid modernization, these artworks touch upon its consequences such as gender & racial disparities, economic neocolonialism, and restrictions on basic freedoms

  • These artworks use innovative methods often with mixed media and in-person installations to showcase different aspects of their central message

bottom of page