Where does art history begin?


Does art history start on the cave walls in France? Apparently, the people that made those did not consider those paintings "art." If something is not intended by the creator to be art, is it art? When someone else puts said creation in the context of art, does it then become art? It's an interesting thought.

If these paintings influenced what came next (that which was considered art), wouldn't those cave paintings count as a "beginning?" Or do we accredit the Aboriginals?
Yes, the history would begin with the earliest images, whether they are considered art or not. They still have to be part of the history of art.
did cave painting come before sculpture? textiles? the 'art' of story ... of carving around the campfire and/or figuring out how to develop clothes from animal skins [without bugs and rot]. Tools (spears and pointy sticks) aren't art, really, but if one sets aside the survival aspect, perhaps they were a form of functional art.
I always wonder if the early people were adorning themselves with necklaces and such, then maybe they did have the intention to make those paintings as art, as they would have the concept of aesthetics. But I do not know if they were doing this. Does anyone know?
Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, but it is doubtful the cave paintings in France were the beginning of art. At a mere 39,000 years old, they are predated by paintings and engravings 60,000 years and older found in Indonesia, Africa, the Middle East. We might as well face the fact that Western European art, even at 39,000 years, is a Johnny-come-lately in the world of art.

I did not know about the above. This is why I like having an Art History forum--to learn! :)
My classes on World Art History began with the cave paintings in Lascaux and Altamira and the Venus of Willendorf. If you are thinking of Art History as a tradition where you can see an unbroken progression and influence... most books on Western Art History begin with Babylon/Mesopotamia and Egypt on to Minoa/Micenea/Greece and onward.
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"...the history would begin with the earliest images, whether they are considered art or not..."

Certainly. And we need to recognize that the "modern" concept of "Art" is quite new. It is unlikely that any medieval painter or sculptor or stained glass artist would have thought of himself as an "artist". "Art" is whatever the culture of the time and place recognize as being "Art". We recognize the paintings of Lascaux, the Egyptian pyramids, and the stained glass windows of the middle age as being "Art". But we also recognize a urinal as "Art"... while some within the "Art World" cannot recognize illustration, posters, and comic books as "Art". :(
It's interesting that it seems to be the determination of others as to what art is and not by the creator. Though the cave paintings in France may not be considered art to those that painted them, it has made an impact on art history going forward after their discovery. And perhaps before we were even aware of them. We can't know.

I tend to feel that context plays a big role, but intent does too, which should be determined by the artist themselves, whether they considered it "art" or just something crafted as beauty when it may or may not have functioned as something else (ritualistically, spiritually, or traditionally--like decorative pottery, etc.). If there was aesthetic intent, it seems to me it should be considered in some artistic context even if people fancied themselves artists or not.

True Outsider artists who have usually never seen much of any art world work, sometimes consider themselves painters or artists, and sometimes not. Finster I think was just a religious freak who just thought of himself painting signs (in the beginning), but it is most definitely considered art in the context of others buying and selling it as such.

So I guess it can be determined both ways--by the maker and the viewer.

So, what came next, and in what year? Was it Mesopotamia and Egypt? Shall we start a new thread?
we need to recognize that the "modern" concept of "Art" is quite new.
True. We should keep in mind, that the ancient greek word "techne" (τέχνη) applies for both, art and craft and this says something.

But wouldn't agree, that "it is unlikely that any medieval [...] artist would have thought of himself as an artist." - I'm sure they did; only, it meant a different thing to them. Well, maybe that's what you meant anyway.
I may ask stupid questions in the forum about art history, especially as far as timelines go, but I am here to learn. So, no question is too dumb, or so I've heard! Right?

Let's assume we begin at the cave paintings, what would come next? Would it be Lion Man? Or is it now a toss-up between the Lion Man and the Venus of Hohle Fels? Can anyone know for sure which was before the other? I feel like we haven't even got the motor running since these dates seem so close together.
is it now a toss-up [...] which was before the other?
I'm not sure if it makes much sense to try to nail down exact dates here, even though it seems that in many ways (like when you have organic material in the same layer where the object is found [or the object itself is organic like bone] and you can use the C14-method) the dating is possible.
We must be aware that we find those few objects only by chance and it's likely that there are (or have been) many thousands more predating the Lion-Man or the Venus of Willendorf or whatever.

Of course, a devoted archeologist would stone me for my ignorance concerning the important differences between the Aurignacian and Magdalenian or whatnot.