Art history is the study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts; that is genre, design, format, and style. The study includes painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, furniture, and other decorative objects.
Art history is the history of different groups of people and their culture represented throughout their artwork. Art historians compare different time periods in art history. Such as a comparison to Medieval Art to Renaissance Art. This history of cultures is shown in their art work in different forms. Art can be shown by attire, architecture, religion, sports. Or more visual pieces of art such as paintings, drawings, sculptures.
As a term, art history (its product being history of art) encompasses several methods of studying the visual arts; in common usage referring to works of art and architecture. Aspects of the discipline overlap. As the art historian Ernst Gombrich once observed, "the field of art history [is] much like Caesar's Gaul, divided in three parts inhabited by three different, though not necessarily hostile tribes: (i) the connoisseurs, (ii) the critics, and (iii) the academic art historians".
As a discipline, art history is distinguished from art criticism, which is concerned with establishing a relative artistic value upon individual works with respect to others of comparable style, or sanctioning an entire style or movement; and art theory or "philosophy of art", which is concerned with the fundamental nature of art. One branch of this area of study is aesthetics, which includes investigating the enigma of the sublime and determining the essence of beauty. Technically, art history is not these things, because the art historian uses historical method to answer the questions: How did the artist come to create the work?, Who were the patrons?, Who were his or her teachers?, Who was the audience?, Who were his or her disciples?, What historical forces shaped the artist's oeuvre, and how did he or she and the creation, in turn, affect the course of artistic, political, and social events? It is, however, questionable whether many questions of this kind can be answered satisfactorily without also considering basic questions about the nature of art. The current disciplinary gap between art history and the philosophy of art (aesthetics) often hinders this inquiry.
Art history is not only a biographical endeavor. Art historians often root their studies in the scrutiny of individual objects. They thus attempt to answer in historically specific ways, questions such as: What are key features of this style?, What meaning did this object convey?, How does it function visually?, Did the artist meet their goals well?, What symbols are involved?, and Does it function discursively?
The historical backbone of the discipline is a celebratory chronology of beautiful creations commissioned by public or religious bodies or wealthy individuals in western Europe. Such a "canon" remains prominent, as indicated by the selection of objects present in art history textbooks. Nonetheless, since the 20th century there has been an effort to re-define the discipline to be more inclusive of non-Western art, art made by women, and vernacular creativity.
Art history as we know it in the 21st century began in the 19th century but has precedents that date to the ancient world. Like the analysis of historical trends in politics, literature, and the sciences, the discipline benefits from the clarity and portability of the written word, but art historians also rely on formal analysis, semiotics, psychoanalysis and iconography. Advances in photographic reproduction and printing techniques after World War II increased the ability of reproductions of artworks. Such technologies have helped to advance the discipline in profound ways, as they have enabled easy comparisons of objects. The study of visual art thus described, can be a practice that involves understanding context, form, and social significance.
Art historians often examine work in the context of its time. At best, this is done in a manner which respects its creator's motivations and imperatives; with consideration of the desires and prejudices of its patrons and sponsors; with a comparative analysis of themes and approaches of the creator's colleagues and teachers; and with consideration of iconography and symbolism. In short, this approach examines the work of art in the context of the world within which it was created.
Art historians also often examine work through an analysis of form; that is, the creator's use of line, shape, color, texture, and composition. This approach examines how the artist uses a two-dimensional picture plane or the three dimensions of sculptural or architectural space to create his or her art. The way these individual elements are employed results in representational or non-representational art. Is the artist imitating an object or image found in nature? If so, it is representational. The closer the art hews to perfect imitation, the more the art is realistic. Is the artist not imitating, but instead relying on symbolism, or in an important way striving to capture nature's essence, rather than copy it directly? If so the art is non-representational—also called abstract. Realism and abstraction exist on a continuum. Impressionism is an example of a representational style that was not directly imitative, but strove to create an "impression" of nature. If the work is not representational and is an expression of the artist's feelings, longings and aspirations, or is a search for ideals of beauty and form, the work is non-representational or a work of expressionism.
An iconographical analysis is one which focuses on particular design elements of an object. Through a close reading of such elements, it is possible to trace their lineage, and with it draw conclusions regarding the origins and trajectory of these motifs. In turn, it is possible to make any number of observations regarding the social, cultural, economic, and aesthetic values of those responsible for producing the object.
Many art historians use critical theory to frame their inquiries into objects. Theory is most often used when dealing with more recent objects, those from the late 19th century onward. Critical theory in art history is often borrowed from literary scholars, and it involves the application of a non-artistic analytical framework to the study of art objects. Feminist, Marxist, critical race, queer, and postcolonial theories are all well established in the discipline. As in literary studies, there is an interest among scholars in nature and the environment, but the direction that this will take in the discipline has yet to be determined.
More recently, media and digital technology introduced possibilities of visual, spatial and experiential analyses. The relevant forms vary from movies, to interactive forms, including virtual environments, augmented environments, situated media, networked media, etc. The methods enabled by such techniques are in active development and promise to include qualitative approaches that can emphasize narrative, dramatic, emotional and ludic characteristics of history and art.
The earliest surviving writing on art that can be classified as art history are the passages in Pliny the Elder's Natural History (c. AD 77-79), concerning the development of Greek sculpture and painting. From them it is possible to trace the ideas of Xenokrates of Sicyon (c. 280 BC), a Greek sculptor who was perhaps the first art historian. Pliny's work, while mainly an encyclopaedia of the sciences, has thus been influential from the Renaissance onwards. (Passages about techniques used by the painter Apelles c. (332-329 BC), have been especially well-known.) Similar, though independent, developments occurred in the 6th century China, where a canon of worthy artists was established by writers in the scholar-official class. These writers, being necessarily proficient in calligraphy, were artists themselves. The artists are described in the Six Principles of Painting formulated by Xie He.
While personal reminiscences of art and artists have long been written and read (see Lorenzo Ghiberti Commentarii, for the best early example), it was Giorgio Vasari, the Tuscan painter, sculptor and author of the Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, who wrote the first true history of art. He emphasized art's progression and development, which was a milestone in this field. His was a personal and a historical account, featuring biographies of individual Italian artists, many of whom were his contemporaries and personal acquaintances. The most renowned of these was Michelangelo, and Vasari's account is enlightening, though biased in places.
Vasari's ideas about art were enormously influential, and served as a model for many, including in the north of Europe Karel van Mander's Schilder-boeck and Joachim von Sandrart's Teutsche Akademie. Vasari's approach held sway until the 18th century, when criticism was leveled at his biographical account of history.
Scholars such as Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768), criticised Vasari's "cult" of artistic personality, and they argued that the real emphasis in the study of art should be the views of the learned beholder and not the unique viewpoint of the charismatic artist. Winckelmann's writings thus were the beginnings of art criticism. His two most notable works that introduced the concept of art criticism were Gedanken über die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke in der Malerei und Bildhauerkunst, published in 1755, shortly before he left for Rome (Fuseli published an English translation in 1765 under the title Reflections on the Painting and Sculpture of the Greeks), and Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums (History of Art in Antiquity), published in 1764 (this is the first occurrence of the phrase ‘history of art’ in the title of a book)". Winckelmann critiqued the artistic excesses of Baroque and Rococo forms, and was instrumental in reforming taste in favor of the more sober Neoclassicism. Jacob Burckhardt (1818–1897), one of the founders of art history, noted that Winckelmann was 'the first to distinguish between the periods of ancient art and to link the history of style with world history'. From Winckelmann until the mid-20th century, the field of art history was dominated by German-speaking academics. Winckelmann's work thus marked the entry of art history into the high-philosophical discourse of German culture.
Winckelmann was read avidly by Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, both of whom began to write on the history of art, and his account of the Laocoön group occasioned a response by Lessing. The emergence of art as a major subject of philosophical speculation was solidified by the appearance of Immanuel Kant's Critique of Judgment in 1790, and was furthered by Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics. Hegel's philosophy served as the direct inspiration for Karl Schnaase's work. Schnaase's Niederländische Briefe established the theoretical foundations for art history as an autonomous discipline, and his Geschichte der bildenden Künste, one of the first historical surveys of the history of art from antiquity to the Renaissance, facilitated the teaching of art history in German-speaking universities. Schnaase's survey was published contemporaneously with a similar work by Franz Theodor Kugler.
Heinrich Wölfflin (1864–1945), who studied under Burckhardt in Basel, is the "father" of modern art history. Wölfflin taught at the universities of Berlin, Basel, Munich, and Zurich. A number of students went on to distinguished careers in art history, including Jakob Rosenberg and Frida Schottmuller. He introduced a scientific approach to the history of art, focusing on three concepts. Firstly, he attempted to study art using psychology, particularly by applying the work of Wilhelm Wundt. He argued, among other things, that art and architecture are good if they resemble the human body. For example, houses were good if their façades looked like faces. Secondly, he introduced the idea of studying art through comparison. By comparing individual paintings to each other, he was able to make distinctions of style. His book Renaissance and Baroque developed this idea, and was the first to show how these stylistic periods differed from one another. In contrast to Giorgio Vasari, Wölfflin was uninterested in the biographies of artists. In fact he proposed the creation of an "art history without names." Finally, he studied art based on ideas of nationhood. He was particularly interested in whether there was an inherently "Italian" and an inherently "German" style. This last interest was most fully articulated in his monograph on the German artist Albrecht Dürer.
Contemporaneous with Wölfflin's career, a major school of art-historical thought developed at the University of Vienna. The first generation of the Vienna School was dominated by Alois Riegl and Franz Wickhoff, both students of Moritz Thausing, and was characterized by a tendency to reassess neglected or disparaged periods in the history of art. Riegl and Wickhoff both wrote extensively on the art of late antiquity, which before them had been considered as a period of decline from the classical ideal. Riegl also contributed to the revaluation of the Baroque.
The next generation of professors at Vienna included Max Dvořák, Julius von Schlosser, Hans Tietze, Karl Maria Swoboda, and Josef Strzygowski. A number of the most important twentieth-century art historians, including Ernst Gombrich, received their degrees at Vienna at this time. The term "Second Vienna School" (or "New Vienna School") usually refers to the following generation of Viennese scholars, including Hans Sedlmayr, Otto Pächt, and Guido Kaschnitz von Weinberg. These scholars began in the 1930s to return to the work of the first generation, particularly to Riegl and his concept of Kunstwollen, and attempted to develop it into a full-blown art-historical methodology. Sedlmayr, in particular, rejected the minute study of iconography, patronage, and other approaches grounded in historical context, preferring instead to concentrate on the aesthetic qualities of a work of art. As a result, the Second Vienna School gained a reputation for unrestrained and irresponsible formalism, and was furthermore colored by Sedlmayr's overt racism and membership in the Nazi party. This latter tendency was, however, by no means shared by all members of the school; Pächt, for example, was himself Jewish, and was forced to leave Vienna in the 1930s.
Our 21st-century understanding of the symbolic content of art comes from a group of scholars who gathered in Hamburg in the 1920s. The most prominent among them were Erwin Panofsky, Aby Warburg, and Fritz Saxl. Together they developed much of the vocabulary that continues to be used in the 21st century by art historians. "Iconography"—with roots meaning "symbols from writing" refers to subject matter of art derived from written sources—especially scripture and mythology. "Iconology" is a broader term that referred to all symbolism, whether derived from a specific text or not. Today art historians sometimes use these terms interchangeably.
Panofsky, in his early work, also developed the theories of Riegl, but became eventually more preoccupied with iconography, and in particular with the transmission of themes related to classical antiquity in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. In this respect his interests coincided with those of Warburg, the son of a wealthy family who had assembled an impressive library in Hamburg devoted to the study of the classical tradition in later art and culture. Under Saxl's auspices, this library was developed into a research institute, affiliated with the University of Hamburg, where Panofsky taught.
Warburg died in 1929, and in the 1930s Saxl and Panofsky, both Jewish, were forced to leave Hamburg. Saxl settled in London, bringing Warburg's library with him and establishing the Warburg Institute. Panofsky settled in Princeton at the Institute for Advanced Study. In this respect they were part of an extraordinary influx of German art historians into the English-speaking academy in the 1930s. These scholars were largely responsible for establishing art history as a legitimate field of study in the English-speaking world, and the influence of Panofsky's methodology, in particular, determined the course of American art history for a generation.
Heinrich Wölfflin was not the only scholar to invoke psychological theories in the study of art. Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud wrote a book on the artist Leonardo da Vinci, in which he used Leonardo's paintings to interrogate the artist's psyche and sexual orientation. Freud inferred from his analysis that Leonardo was probably homosexual.
Though the use of posthumous material to perform psychoanalysis is controversial among art historians, especially since the sexual mores of Leonardo's time and Freud's are different, it is often attempted. One of the best-known psychoanalytic scholars is Laurie Schneider Adams, who wrote a popular textbook, Art Across Time, and a book Art and Psychoanalysis.
An unsuspecting turn for the history of art criticism came in 1914 when Sigmund Freud published a psychoanalytical interpretation of Michelangelo's Moses titled Der Moses des Michelangelo as one of the first psychology based analyses on a work of art. Freud first published this work shortly after reading Vasari's Lives. For unknown purposes, Freud originally published the article anonymously.
Carl Jung also applied psychoanalytic theory to art. C.G. Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist, an influential thinker, and founder of analytical psychology. Jung's approach to psychology emphasized understanding the psyche through exploring the worlds of dreams, art, mythology, world religion and philosophy. Much of his life's work was spent exploring Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, sociology, as well as literature and the arts. His most notable contributions include his concept of the psychological archetype, the collective unconscious, and his theory of synchronicity. Jung believed that many experiences perceived as coincidence were not merely due to chance but, instead, suggested the manifestation of parallel events or circumstances reflecting this governing dynamic. He argued that a collective unconscious and archetypal imagery were detectable in art. His ideas were particularly popular among American Abstract expressionists in the 1940s and 1950s. His work inspired the surrealist concept of drawing imagery from dreams and the unconscious.
Jung emphasized the importance of balance and harmony. He cautioned that modern humans rely too heavily on science and logic and would benefit from integrating spirituality and appreciation of the unconscious realm. His work not only triggered analytical work by art historians, but it became an integral part of art-making. Jackson Pollock, for example, famously created a series of drawings to accompany his psychoanalytic sessions with his Jungian psychoanalyst, Dr. Joseph Henderson. Henderson who later published the drawings in a text devoted to Pollock's sessions realized how powerful the drawings were as a therapeutic tool.
The legacy of psychoanalysis in art history has been profound, and extends beyond Freud and Jung. The prominent feminist art historian Griselda Pollock, for example, draws upon psychoanalysis both in her reading into contemporary art and in her rereading of modernist art. With Griselda Pollock's reading of French feminist psychoanalysis and in particular the writings of Julia Kristeva and Bracha L. Ettinger, as with Rosalind Krauss readings of Jacques Lacan and Jean-François Lyotard and Catherine de Zegher's curatorial rereading of art, Feminist theory written in the fields of French feminism and Psychoanalysis has strongly informed the reframing of both men and women artists in art history.
During the mid-20th century, art historians embraced social history by using critical approaches. The goal was to show how art interacts with power structures in society. One critical approach that art historians used was Marxism. Marxist art history attempted to show how art was tied to specific classes, how images contain information about the economy, and how images can make the status quo seem natural (ideology).
Marcel Duchamp and Dada Movement jump started the Anti-art style. Various artist did not want to create artwork that everyone was conforming to at the time. These two movements helped other artist to create pieces that were not viewed as traditional art. Some examples of styles that branched off the anti-art movement would be Neo-Dadaism, Surrealism, and Constructivism. These styles and artist did not want to surrender to traditional ways of art. This way of thinking provoked political movements such as the Russian Revolution and the communist ideals.
Artist Isaak Brodsky work of art 'Shock-worker from Dneprstroi' in 1932 shows his political involvement within art. This piece of art can be analysed to show the internal troubles Soviet Russia was experiencing at the time. Perhaps the best-known Marxist was Clement Greenberg, who came to prominence during the late 1930s with his essay "Avant-Garde and Kitsch". In the essay Greenberg claimed that the avant-garde arose in order to defend aesthetic standards from the decline of taste involved in consumer society, and seeing kitsch and art as opposites. Greenberg further claimed that avant-garde and Modernist art was a means to resist the leveling of culture produced by capitalist propaganda. Greenberg appropriated the German word 'kitsch' to describe this consumerism, although its connotations have since changed to a more affirmative notion of leftover materials of capitalist culture. Greenberg later became well known for examining the formal properties of modern art.
Meyer Schapiro is one of the best-remembered Marxist art historians of the mid-20th century. Although he wrote about numerous time periods and themes in art, he is best remembered for his commentary on sculpture from the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, at which time he saw evidence of capitalism emerging and feudalism declining.
Arnold Hauser wrote the first Marxist survey of Western Art, entitled The Social History of Art. He attempted to show how class consciousness was reflected in major art periods. The book was controversial when published during the 1950s since it makes generalizations about entire eras, a strategy now called "vulgar Marxism".
Marxist Art History was refined in the department of Art History at UCLA with scholars such as T.J. Clark, O.K. Werckmeister, David Kunzle, Theodor W. Adorno, and Max Horkheimer. T.J. Clark was the first art historian writing from a Marxist perspective to abandon vulgar Marxism. He wrote Marxist art histories of several impressionist and realist artists, including Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet. These books focused closely on the political and economic climates in which the art was created.
Linda Nochlin's essay "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" helped to ignite feminist art history during the 1970s and remains one of the most widely read essays about female artists. This was then followed by a 1972 College Art Association Panel, chaired by Nochlin, entitled "Eroticism and the Image of Woman in Nineteenth-Century Art". Within a decade, scores of papers, articles, and essays sustained a growing momentum, fueled by the Second-wave feminist movement, of critical discourse surrounding women's interactions with the arts as both artists and subjects. In her pioneering essay, Nochlin applies a feminist critical framework to show systematic exclusion of women from art training, arguing that exclusion from practicing art as well as the canonical history of art was the consequence of cultural conditions which curtailed and restricted women from art producing fields. The few who did succeed were treated as anomalies and did not provide a model for subsequent success. Griselda Pollock is another prominent feminist art historian, whose use of psychoanalytic theory is described above.
While feminist art history can focus on any time period and location, much attention has been given to the Modern era. Some of this scholarship centers on the feminist art movement, which referred specifically to the experience of women. Often, feminist art history offers a critical "re-reading" of the Western art canon, such as Carol Duncan's re-interpretation of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Two pioneers of the field are Mary Garrard and Norma Broude. Their anthologies Feminism and Art History: Questioning the Litany, The Expanding Discourse: Feminism and Art History, and Reclaiming Feminist Agency: Feminist Art History After Postmodernism are substantial efforts to bring feminist perspectives into the discourse of art history. The pair also co-founded the Feminist Art History Conference.
As opposed to iconography which seeks to identify meaning, semiotics is concerned with how meaning is created. Roland Barthes’s connoted and denoted meanings are paramount to this examination. In any particular work of art, an interpretation depends on the identification of denoted meaning—the recognition of a visual sign, and the connoted meaning—the instant cultural associations that come with recognition. The main concern of the semiotic art historian is to come up with ways to navigate and interpret connoted meaning.
Semiotic art history seeks to uncover the codified meaning or meanings in an aesthetic object by examining its connectedness to a collective consciousness. Art historians do not commonly commit to any one particular brand of semiotics but rather construct an amalgamated version which they incorporate into their collection of analytical tools. For example, Meyer Schapiro borrowed Saussure’s differential meaning in effort to read signs as they exist within a system. According to Schapiro, to understand the meaning of frontality in a specific pictorial context, it must be differentiated from, or viewed in relation to, alternate possibilities such as a profile, or a three-quarter view. Schapiro combined this method with the work of Charles Sanders Peirce whose object, sign, and interpretant provided a structure for his approach. Alex Potts demonstrates the application of Peirce’s concepts to visual representation by examining them in relation to the Mona Lisa. By seeing the Mona Lisa, for example, as something beyond its materiality is to identify it as a sign. It is then recognized as referring to an object outside of itself, a woman, or Mona Lisa. The image does not seem to denote religious meaning and can therefore be assumed to be a portrait. This interpretation leads to a chain of possible interpretations: who was the sitter in relation to Leonardo da Vinci? What significance did she have to him? Or, maybe she is an icon for all of womankind. This chain of interpretation, or “unlimited semiosis” is endless; the art historian's job is to place boundaries on possible interpretations as much as it is to reveal new possibilities.
Semiotics operates under the theory that an image can only be understood from the viewer's perspective. The artist is supplanted by the viewer as the purveyor of meaning, even to the extent that an interpretation is still valid regardless of whether the creator had intended it. Rosalind Krauss espoused this concept in her essay “In the Name of Picasso.” She denounced the artist's monopoly on meaning and insisted that meaning can only be derived after the work has been removed from its historical and social context. Mieke Bal argued similarly that meaning does not even exist until the image is observed by the viewer. It is only after acknowledging this that meaning can become opened up to other possibilities such as feminism or psychoanalysis.
Aspects of the subject which have come to the fore in recent decades include interest in the patronage and consumption of art, including the economics of the art market, the role of collectors, the intentions and aspirations of those commissioning works, and the reactions of contemporary and later viewers and owners. Museum studies, including the history of museum collecting and display, is now a specialized field of study, as is the history of collecting.
Scientific advances have made possible much more accurate investigation of the materials and techniques used to create works, especially infra-red and x-ray photographic techniques which have allowed many underdrawings of paintings to be seen again. Proper analysis of pigments used in paint is now possible, which has upset many attributions. Dendrochronology for panel paintings and radio-carbon dating for old objects in organic materials have allowed scientific methods of dating objects to confirm or upset dates derived from stylistic analysis or documentary evidence. The development of good colour photography, now held digitally and available on the internet or by other means, has transformed the study of many types of art, especially those covering objects existing in large numbers which are widely dispersed among collections, such as illuminated manuscripts and Persian miniatures, and many types of archaeological artworks.
Concurrent to those technological advances, art historians have shown increasing interest in new theoretical approaches to the nature of artworks as objects. Thing theory, actor–network theory, and object-oriented ontology have played an increasing role in art historical literature.
The making of art, the academic history of art, and the history of art museums are closely intertwined with the rise of nationalism. Art created in the modern era, in fact, has often been an attempt to generate feelings of national superiority or love of one's country. Russian art is an especially good example of this, as the Russian avant-garde and later Soviet art were attempts to define that country's identity.
Most art historians working today identify their specialty as the art of a particular culture and time period, and often such cultures are also nations. For example, someone might specialize in the 19th-century German or contemporary Chinese art history. A focus on nationhood has deep roots in the discipline. Indeed, Vasari's Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects is an attempt to show the superiority of Florentine artistic culture, and Heinrich Wölfflin's writings (especially his monograph on Albrecht Dürer) attempt to distinguish Italian from German styles of art.
Many of the largest and most well-funded art museums of the world, such as the Louvre, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington are state-owned. Most countries, indeed, have a national gallery, with an explicit mission of preserving the cultural patrimony owned by the government—regardless of what cultures created the art—and an often implicit mission to bolster that country's own cultural heritage. The National Gallery of Art thus showcases art made in the United States, but also owns objects from across the world.
The field of Art History is traditionally divided into specializations or concentrations based on eras and regions, with further sub-division based on media. Thus, someone might specialize in "19th-century German architecture" or in "16th-century Tuscan sculpture." Sub-fields are often included under a specialization. For example, the Ancient Near East, Greece, Rome, and Egypt are all typically considered special concentrations of Ancient art. In some cases, these specializations may be closely allied (as Greece and Rome, for example), while in others such alliances are far less natural (Indian art versus Korean art, for example).
Non-Western art is a relative newcomer to the Art Historical canon. Recent revisions of the semantic division between art and artifact have recast objects created in non-Western cultures in more aesthetic terms. Relative to those studying Ancient Rome or the Italian Renaissance, scholars specializing in Africa, the Ancient Americas and Asia are a growing minority.
"Contemporary art history" refers to research into the period from the 1960s until today reflecting the break from the assumptions of modernism brought by artists of the neo-avant-garde and a continuity in contemporary art in terms of practice based on conceptualist and post-conceptualist practices.
In the United States, the most important art history organization is the College Art Association. It organizes an annual conference and publishes the Art Bulletin and Art Journal. Similar organizations exist in other parts of the world, as well as for specializations, such as architectural history and Renaissance art history. In the UK, for example, the Association of Art Historians is the premiere organization, and it publishes a journal titled Art History.
An architectural style is characterized by the features that make a building or other structure notable or historically identifiable. A style may include such elements as form, method of construction, building materials, and regional character. Most architecture can be classified within a chronology of styles which changes over time reflecting changing fashions, beliefs and religions, or the emergence of new ideas, technology, or materials which make new styles possible.
Styles therefore emerge from the history of a society. They are documented in the subject of architectural history. At any time several styles may be fashionable, and when a style changes it usually does so gradually, as architects learn and adapt to new ideas. The new style is sometimes only a rebellion against an existing style, such as post-modernism (meaning "after modernism"), which has in recent years found its own language and split into a number of styles which have acquired other names.
Styles often spread to other places, so that the style at its source continues to develop in new ways while other countries follow with their own twist. For instance, Renaissance ideas emerged in Italy around 1425 and spread to all of Europe over the next 200 years, with the French, Belgian, German, English, and Spanish Renaissances showing recognisably the same style, but with unique characteristics. A style may also spread through colonialism, either by foreign colonies learning from their home country, or by settlers moving to a new land. One example is the Spanish missions in California, brought by Spanish priests in the late 18th century and built in a unique style.
After a style has gone out of fashion, revivals and re-interpretations may occur. For instance, classicism has been revived many times and found new life as neoclassicism. Each time it is revived, it is different. The Spanish mission style was revived 100 years later as the Mission Revival, and that soon evolved into the Spanish Colonial Revival.
Vernacular architecture works slightly differently and is listed separately. It is the native method of construction used by local people, usually using labour-intensive methods and local materials, and usually for small structures such as rural cottages. It varies from region to region even within a country, and takes mini account of national styles or technology. As western society has developed, vernacular styles have mostly become outmoded due to new technology and to national building standards.Art critic
An art critic is a person who is specialized in analyzing, interpreting and evaluating art. Their written critiques or reviews contribute to art criticism and they are published in newspapers, magazines, books, exhibition brochures and catalogues and on web sites. Some of today's art critics use art blogs and other online platforms in order to connect with a wider audience and expand debate about art.
Differently from art history, there is not an institutionalized training for art critics (with only few exceptions); art critics come from different backgrounds and they may or may not be university trained. Professional art critics are expected to have a keen eye for art and a thorough knowledge of art history. Typically the art critic views art at exhibitions, galleries, museums or artists' studios and they can be members of the International Association of Art Critics which has national sections. Very rarely art critics earn their living from writing criticism.
The opinions of art critics have the potential to stir debate on art related topics. Due to this the viewpoints of art critics writing for art publications and newspapers adds to public discourse concerning art and culture. Art collectors and patrons often rely on the advice of such critics as a way to enhance their appreciation of the art they are viewing. Many now famous and celebrated artists were not recognized by the art critics of their time, often because their art was in a style not yet understood or favored. Conversely, some critics, have become particularly important helping to explain and promote new art movements — Roger Fry with the Post-Impressionist movement, Lawrence Alloway with Pop Art as examples.Art movement
An art movement is a tendency or style in art with a specific common philosophy or goal, followed by a group of artists during a restricted period of time, (usually a few months, years or decades) or, at least, with the heyday of the movement defined within a number of years. Art movements were especially important in modern art, when each consecutive movement was considered as a new avant-garde.Art of Europe
The art of Europe, or Western art, encompasses the history of visual art in Europe. European prehistoric art started as mobile Upper Paleolithic rock and cave painting and petroglyph art and was characteristic of the period between the Paleolithic and the Iron Age. Written histories of European art often begin with the art of the Ancient Middle East and the Ancient Aegean civilizations, dating from the 3rd millennium BC. Parallel with these significant cultures, art of one form or another existed all over Europe, wherever there were people, leaving signs such as carvings, decorated artifacts and huge standing stones. However a consistent pattern of artistic development within Europe becomes clear only with the art of Ancient Greece, adopted and transformed by Rome and carried; with the Empire, across much of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.The influence of the art of the Classical period waxed and waned throughout the next two thousand years, seeming to slip into a distant memory in parts of the Medieval period, to re-emerge in the Renaissance, suffer a period of what some early art historians viewed as "decay" during the Baroque period, to reappear in a refined form in Neo-Classicism and to be reborn in Post-Modernism.Before the 1800s, the Christian church was a major influence upon European art, the commissions of the Church, architectural, painterly and sculptural, providing the major source of work for artists. The history of the Church was very much reflected in the history of art, during this period. In the same period of time there was renewed interest in heroes and heroines, tales of mythological gods and goddesses, great wars, and bizarre creatures which were not connected to religion. Most art of the last 200 years has been produced without reference to religion and often with no particular ideology at all, but art has often been influenced by political issues, whether reflecting the concerns of patrons or the artist.
European art is arranged into a number of stylistic periods, which, historically, overlap each other as different styles flourished in different areas. Broadly the periods are, Classical, Byzantine, Medieval, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, Modern and Postmodern.Certosina
Certosina is a decorative art technique used widely in the Italian Renaissance period. Similar to marquetry, it uses small pieces of wood, bone, metal, or mother-of-pearl to create inlaid geometric patterns on wood. The term comes from Certosa Church in Pavia, where the technique was used in ornamenting an altarpiece.Container Revolution
The Container Revolution is the introduction of pottery into the Eastern Woodlands of North America during the Archaic period. As these societies became more sedentary, they were able to manufacture and use vessels that would have broken during transportation. Pots allowed for more efficient processing of wild seeds, which created less work for people when the pots were made waterproof. More-efficient seed collection systems and the deliberate manipulation of the native plants, in turn led to the domestication of several plant species. This is just one of many cultural developments that began during this time.Formalism (art)
In art history, formalism is the study of art by analyzing and comparing form and style. Its discussion also includes the way objects are made and their purely visual or material aspects. In painting, formalism emphasizes compositional elements such as color, line, shape, texture, and other perceptual aspects rather than content, meaning, or the historical and social context. At its extreme, formalism in art history posits that everything necessary to comprehending a work of art is contained within the work of art. The context of the work, including the reason for its creation, the historical background, and the life of the artist, that is, its conceptual aspect is considered to be external to the artistic medium itself, and therefor of secondary importance.Grotto
A grotto (Italian grotta and French grotte) is a natural or artificial cave used by humans in both modern times and antiquity, and historically or prehistorically. Naturally occurring grottoes are often small caves near water that are usually flooded or liable to flood at high tide. Sometimes, artificial grottoes are used as garden features. The Grotta Azzurra at Capri and the grotto at the villa of Tiberius in the Bay of Naples are examples of popular natural seashore grottoes.
Whether in tidal water or high up in hills, grottoes are generally made up of limestone geology, where the acidity of standing water has dissolved the carbonates in the rock matrix as it passes through what were originally small fissures. See karst topography, cavern.High Renaissance
In art history, the High Renaissance is a short period of the most exceptional artistic production in the Italian states, particularly Rome, capital of the Papal States, and in Florence, during the Italian Renaissance. Most art historians state that the High Renaissance started around 1495 or 1500 and ended in 1520 with the death of Raphael, although some say the High Renaissance ended about 1525, or in 1527 with the Sack of Rome by the army of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, or about 1530 (see next section for specific art historians’ positions). The best-known exponents of painting, sculpture and architecture of the High Renaissance include Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Bramante. In recent years, the use of the term has been frequently criticized by some academic art historians for oversimplifying artistic developments, ignoring historical context, and focusing only on a few iconic works.Iconography
Iconography, as a branch of art history, studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images: the subjects depicted, the particular compositions and details used to do so, and other elements that are distinct from artistic style. The word iconography comes from the Greek εἰκών ("image") and γράφειν ("to write").
A secondary meaning (based on a non-standard translation of the Greek and Russian equivalent terms) is the production of religious images, called "icons", in the Byzantine and Orthodox Christian tradition (see Icon).
In art history, "an iconography" may also mean a particular depiction of a subject in terms of the content of the image, such as the number of figures used, their placing and gestures. The term is also used in many academic fields other than art history, for example semiotics and media studies, and in general usage, for the content of images, the typical depiction in images of a subject, and related senses. Sometimes distinctions have been made between iconology and iconography, although the definitions, and so the distinction made, varies.
When referring to movies, genres are immediately recognizable through their iconography, motifs that become associated with a specific genre through repetition.Kunsthistorisches Museum
The Kunsthistorisches Museum (lit. "Museum of Art History", also often referred to as the "Museum of Fine Arts") is an art museum in Vienna, Austria. Housed in its festive palatial building on Ringstraße, it is crowned with an octagonal dome. The term Kunsthistorisches Museum applies to both the institution and the main building. It is the largest art museum in the country.
It was opened around 1891 at the same time as the Natural History Museum, Vienna, by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary. The two museums have similar exteriors and face each other across Maria-Theresien-Platz. Both buildings were built between 1871 and 1891 according to plans drawn up by Gottfried Semper and Karl Freiherr von Hasenauer.
The two Ringstraße museums were commissioned by the emperor in order to find a suitable shelter for the Habsburgs' formidable art collection and to make it accessible to the general public. The façade was built of sandstone. The building is rectangular in shape, and topped with a dome that is 60 meters high. The inside of the building is lavishly decorated with marble, stucco ornamentations, gold-leaf, and paintings.Necklace
A necklace is an article of jewelry that is worn around the neck. Necklaces may have been one of the earliest types of adornment worn by humans. They often serve ceremonial, religious, magical, or funerary purposes and are also used as symbols of wealth and status, given that they are commonly made of precious metals and stones.
The main component of a necklace is the band, chain, or cord that wraps around the neck. These are most often rendered in precious metals such as gold, silver, and platinum. Necklaces often have additional attachments suspended or inset into the necklace itself. These attachments typically include pendants, lockets, amulets, crosses, and precious and semi-precious materials such as diamond, pearls, rubies, emeralds, garnets, and sapphires.Netherlands Institute for Art History
The Netherlands Institute for Art History or RKD (Dutch: RKD-Nederlands Instituut voor Kunstgeschiedenis) is located in The Hague and is home to the largest art history center in the world. The center specializes in documentation, archives, and books on Western art from the late Middle Ages until modern times. All of this is open to the public, and much of it has been digitized and is available on their website. The main goal of the bureau is to collect, categorize, and make art research available, most notably in the field of Dutch Masters.
Via the available databases, the visitor can gain insight into archival evidence on the lives of many artists of past centuries. The library owns approximately 450,000 titles, of which ca. 150,000 are auction catalogs. There are ca. 3,000 magazines, of which 600 are currently running subscriptions. Though most of the text is in Dutch, the standard record format includes a link to library entries and images of known works, which include English as well as Dutch titles.
The RKD also manages the Dutch version of the Art and Architecture Thesaurus, a thesaurus of terms for management of information on art and architecture. The original version is an initiative of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, California.Realism (arts)
Realism, sometimes called naturalism, in the arts is generally the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoiding artistic conventions, or implausible, exotic, and supernatural elements. Realism has been prevalent in the arts at many periods, and can be in large part a matter of technique and training, and the avoidance of stylization.
In the visual arts, illusionistic realism is the accurate depiction of lifeforms, perspective, and the details of light and colour. But realist or naturalist works of art may, as well or instead of illusionist realism, be "realist" in their subject-matter, and emphasize the mundane, ugly or sordid. This is typical of the 19th-century Realist movement that began in France in the 1850s, after the 1848 Revolution, and also social realism, regionalism, or kitchen sink realism. The Realist painters rejected Romanticism, which had come to dominate French literature and art, with roots in the late 18th century.
There have been various movements invoking realism in the other arts, such as the opera style of verismo, literary realism, theatrical realism, and Italian neorealist cinema.Smarthistory
Smarthistory is a free resource for the study of art history created by art historians Beth Harris and Steven Zucker. Smarthistory is an independent not-for-profit organization and the official partner to Khan Academy for art history.Smarthistory started in 2005 as an audio guide series for use at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and as a resource for students taking introductory art history courses at the college level. In addition to its focus on college-level courses in art history, Smarthistory supports the art history Advanced Placement course and examination developed by The College Board. Smarthistory provides essays, video, photographs, and links to additional resources for each of the 250 works of art and architecture that comprise the new AP art history curriculum.Smarthistory has published 1500 videos and essays on art and cultural history from the Paleolithic era to the 21st century that include the art of Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. Smarthistory's essays have been contributed by more than 200 art historians, curators, and archaeologists writing in their areas of focus. Videos are unscripted conversations between experts recorded on location in front of the original work of art or architecture.According to the Smarthistory about page:
We are interested in delivering the narratives of art history using the read-write web's interactivity and capacity for authoring and remixing. Publishers are adding multimedia to their textbooks, but unfortunately they are doing so in proprietary, password-protected adjunct websites. These are weak because they maintain an old model of closed and protected content, eliminating Web 2.0 possibilities for the open collaboration and open communities that our students now use and expect. Smarthistory won the Webby Award for Education in 2009. The Samuel H. Kress Foundation gave them a $25,000 grant for development in 2008 and a $38,000 partnership development grant with the Portland Art Museum in 2009.In an article in the Brooklyn New York Daily News, staff writer Elizabeth Lazarowitz quotes Steven Zucker, "Art can be really intimidating for people", said Zucker. "If we can make art feel exciting and interesting and very much relevant to a historical moment...art can have real meaning." Unlike reading about art in a book, "the idea of the audio was to keep a student's eyes on the image", he explained. "It helped students to learn the material a lot better."In a collaborative article by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker, the founders explain the value of the resource for teachers, students, and informal learners: "Smarthistory is helping teachers who are not specialists in art history find strategies to make the subject accessible and meaningful to students who might otherwise not have cultural resources available to them. And for college students, the site is fast becoming an attractive alternative to the commercial textbook whose short life cycle and $100+ price tag has increasingly become a barrier."In a Chronicle for Higher Education article, Beth Harris is quoted on the ambitions and goals of Smarthistory: "We really just wanted to re-embed the objects in our world", says Harris, who is the founder and executive editor of Smarthistory as well as the director of digital learning at a New York City museum. "We thought that that would make them more relevant and more engaging for students."Style (visual arts)
In the visual arts, style is a "...distinctive manner which permits the grouping of works into related categories" or "...any distinctive, and therefore recognizable, way in which an act is performed or an artifact made or ought to be performed and made". It refers to the visual appearance of a work of art that relates it to other works by the same artist or one from the same period, training, location, "school", art movement or archaeological culture: "The notion of style has long been the art historian's principal mode of classifying works of art. By style he selects and shapes the history of art".Style is often divided into the general style of a period, country or cultural group, group of artists or art movement, and the individual style of the artist within that group style. Divisions within both types of styles are often made, such as between "early", "middle" or "late". In some artists, such as Picasso for example, these divisions may be marked and easy to see, in others they are more subtle. Style is seen as usually dynamic, in most periods always changing by a gradual process, though the speed of this varies greatly, between the very slow development in style typical of prehistoric art or Ancient Egyptian art to the rapid changes in Modern art styles. Style often develops in a series of jumps, with relatively sudden changes followed by periods of slower development.
After dominating academic discussion in art history in the 19th and early 20th centuries, so-called "style art history" has come under increasing attack in recent decades, and many art historians now prefer to avoid stylistic classifications where they can.Terracotta
Terracotta, terra cotta or terra-cotta (pronounced [ˌtɛrraˈkɔtta]; Italian: "baked earth", from the Latin terra cocta), a type of earthenware, is a clay-based unglazed or glazed ceramic, where the fired body is porous. Terracotta is the term normally used for sculpture made in earthenware, and also for various utilitarian uses including vessels (notably flower pots), water and waste water pipes, roofing tiles, bricks, and surface embellishment in building construction. The term is also used to refer to the natural brownish orange color of most terracotta, which varies considerably.
This article covers the senses of terracotta as a medium in sculpture, as in the Terracotta Army and Greek terracotta figurines, and architectural decoration. Asian and European sculpture in porcelain is not covered. Glazed architectural terracotta and its unglazed version as exterior surfaces for buildings were used in Asia for some centuries before becoming popular in the West in the 19th century. Architectural terracotta can also refer to decorated ceramic elements such as antefixes and revetments, which made a large contribution to the appearance of temples and other buildings in the classical architecture of Europe, as well as in the Ancient Near East.
In archaeology and art history, "terracotta" is often used to describe objects such as figurines not made on a potter's wheel. Vessels and other objects that are or might be made on a wheel from the same material are called earthenware pottery; the choice of term depends on the type of object rather than the material or firing technique. Unglazed pieces, and those made for building construction and industry, are also more likely to be referred to as terracotta, whereas tableware and other vessels are called earthenware (though sometimes terracotta if unglazed), or by a more precise term such as faience.Women artists
Though women artists have been involved in the making of art throughout history, their work, when compared to that of their male counterparts, is often both overlooked and undervalued. Prevailing stereotypes about the sexes have caused certain media, such as textile or fiber arts, to be primarily associated with women, despite having once been categories both men and women participated in. Additionally, art forms that have gained this distinction are, as in the case of both textile and fabric arts, demoted to categories like "arts and crafts", rather than fine art.Women in art have been faced with challenges due to gender biases in the mainstream fine art world. They have often encountered difficulties in training, travelling and trading their work, as well as gaining recognition. Beginning in the late 1960s and 1970s, feminist artists and art historians created a Feminist art movement that overtly addresses the role of women in the art world and explores the role of women in art history and in society.Women in the art history field
Women were professionally active in the academic discipline of art history already in the nineteenth century and participated in the important shift early in the century that began involving an "emphatically corporeal visual subject", with Vernon Lee as a notable example. It is argued that in the twentieth century women art historians (and curators), by choosing to study women artists, "dramatically" "increased their visibility". In fact, women art historians are one of two groups (besides authors of high-school texbooks) "who say there have been great women artists" in the first place, according to the authors of a study of the representations of women artists in US textbooks.