Fantasy (from English. fantasy - «Imagination ") - kind of fiction based on the use of mythological and fairy-tale motifs. In its present form emerged in the early XX century.
Product of fantasy often resemble historical adventure novel, which takes place in a fictional world, which is close to the real Middle Ages, the characters faced with supernatural phenomena and beings. Often the fantasy is built on archetypal stories. Unlike science fiction, fantasy does not try to explain the world in which the action take place. This world exists in the form of some assumptions (often its location relative to our reality does not stipulate: whether it is a parallel world, or another planet), and its physical laws may differ from the realities of our world. In such a world can be a real existence of gods, magic, mythical creatures (dragons, elves, dwarves, trolls), ghosts, and any other fantastic beings. At the same time, the fundamental difference between the "miracles" from the fairy-tale, is a fact that fantasy "wonders" are the norm for described world and act systemically, as the laws of nature.
Fantasy literature traces its history from the myths of ancient Greece and medieval epics (Beowulf). Strong influence on the genre had a future medieval romances. "Arturiansky's legend" with her magic swords and romance, according to Andrzej Sapkowski, underlies most works of fantasy. In the fantasy of the Far East this role belongs to medieval Chinese, Japanese and Korean novels and stories, many of which content a lot of fantasy elements.
The first works of modern fantasy began to emerge in the early XX century. Among them - "Daughter of the King of Elves" by Lord Edward Dunsany, "Conan" by Robert E. Howard, "The Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S. Lewis, "The Legend of Manuel" by James Keybella. Widely popularity to the genre was brought by the publication of "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien, this work had an enormous influence on the genre. His receivers include all the writers of the genre of fantasy, for instance, "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini. At this point hundreds of fiction writers work in the fantasy genre. Fantasy, in the form of folklore, legends and science fiction, featured in the painting before the registration of a separate genre of fantasy art. Examples are the work of Viktor Vasnetsov, Ivan Bilibin, Vrubel. Development of painting in the fantasy genre are parallel to the development of literature, since most of the artists painted covers and illustrations for books and games, as well as fantastic comics and collectible playing cards.
But modern art historians usually dont think about fantasy-art like about something serious. May be because of big popularity of fantasy among common people who like to draw their own fiction worlds or creatures. But it is silly to ignore encreasing number of book illustrations, movie posters and other fantasy-related art (including trading cards and non-proffesional fan-art). As it was stated earlier fantasy-art was born only with the help of literature.