Art is something which can be analyzed to give deeper insight as to the common values and beliefs shared by the members of a certain society. Regardless of the place of origin or the time period of a form of art, it will always be a reflection of the social structure in which it's creator/s lived. However, the way the artist perceives the culture common to his time period is very relative. People pertaining to a higher social class had different values and ideologies than members of a lower class. This different view of life can be seen very clearly in individual forms of art such as painting and music. These specific forms of artistic expression required very little money, thus could be exercised by anyone including members of a lower class. Other forms of art such as architecture and sculpture required more money and in most cases wealthy patrons such as kings or queens. Architecture also required large numbers of workers which often made it hard to see any individual influence in the design, however showed the collective ideology of all of the people involved. The cost of labor and materials was also so great that very affluent members of society were needed to financially support the whole process. Sculpture was also an artistry that required great amounts of material and labor. This resulted in a more normative form of art which portrayed societal aspects in a way that was of interest to the financial backers. By studying both popular and normative art together it is possible to obtain a greater perspective on a specific culture.

Outside influences from other countries can also affect the art and the artists of a certain society. As a country sees more and more immigrants from a certain area, the art will begin to reflect the ideologies these outsiders bring in with them. This same change can be seen more drastically in the case of an invasion. The architecture would change drastically, since it is normative art and the new rulers would enforce their own norms and rules. The painting would also change, however less drastically than more official forms of art. This more gradual change could be attributed to the individuals of the country who still retained the old values and customs. These same influences on art would take place if nobility of another country married into the royal family, and was then given heir to the throne. The change would be just as drastic, but departure from old ideologies would be encouraged instead of enforced. In the case of Arab influence in Spain during the eighth century, it was not an invasion rather a gradual settling of this other culture in Spain's borders. The change was brought about by the affect this outside influence had on the people of Spain. The new ideas and forms of artistic expression were exciting and intriguing to Spaniards, and eventually they adopted these ideas as their own. The change was seen in all forms of art, especially in the new arches and vivid colors used in Arabic architecture. Any time a new way of life makes itself present in a society, it has an affect on the art. Usually this change is seen mostly in architecture and sculpture, while painting follows behind. The two cultures can also mix together and give rise to a new form of hybrid artistic expression. This mixing of ideas and beliefs is usually most evident in places were the people are trying to choose between the new popular culture, and the old beliefs and values of the country.

Painting of a certain society can be analyzed either technically or with the purpose of discovering its meaning. It's the second which should be used in order to give a better idea of the philosophies of a certain group of people. The background of the painting is always very important when studying a painting. The landscape or buildings behind the main focus of the painting can give an idea of where the artist is from. Many times the artist will use a background which doesn't pertain to the actual painting to show loyalty to his place of birth. This occurred mostly with painters who moved from their home country to live elsewhere and ended up