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 employ a number of methods in their research into the ontology and history of objects. 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 , concerning the development of Greek sculpture and painting. Passages about techniques used by the painter Apelles c. 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. 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 Painters , who wrote the first true history of art.
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 [ citation needed ] 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. Scholars such as Johann Joachim Winckelmann — , 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. Jacob Burckhardt — , 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 midth 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 Laocoon 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 , and was furthered by Hegel 's Lectures on Aesthetics.
Hegel's philosophy served as the direct inspiration for Karl Schnaase 's work. Schnaase's survey was published contemporaneously with a similar work by Franz Theodor Kugler. 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.
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 fact he proposed the creation of an "art history without names. He was particularly interested in whether there was an inherently "Italian" and an inherently " German " style. 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. A number of the most important twentieth-century art historians, including Ernst Gombrich , received their degrees at Vienna at this time.
These scholars began in the s 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.
Our 21st-century understanding of the symbolic content of art comes from a group of scholars who gathered in Hamburg in the s. Together they developed much of the vocabulary that continues to be used in the 21st century by art historians. 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 , and in the s 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 s. 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.
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. For unknown purposes, Freud originally published the article anonymously. Carl Jung also applied psychoanalytic theory to art.
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.
His ideas were particularly popular among American Abstract expressionists in the s and s. 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. 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.
During the midth 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 [ who? 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.
Perhaps the best-known Marxist was Clement Greenberg , who came to prominence during the late s with his essay " Avant-Garde and Kitsch ".
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 [ when? Meyer Schapiro is one of the best-remembered Marxist art historians of the midth century. We are working to add more AP Art History resources such as unit notes, topic notes, study questions, and practice quizzes. We hope your visit has been a productive one. If you're having any problems, or would like to give some feedback, we'd love to hear from you.
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Be sure to include which edition of the textbook you are using! If we see enough demand, we'll do whatever we can to get those notes up on the site for you! Skip to main content. The ability to apply basic art and art history terminology and tools.
An appreciation for the artistic process as well as the importance of how art is displayed. A knowledge of different types of art from prehistoric art, to Medieval art, to Expressionist and Modern art. The ability to understand and analyze works of art in context of historical evidence and interpretation.
They will e able to examine issues such as politics, religion, ethnicity, patronage, and gender. An understanding of the cross-cultural and global nature of art.
The ability to perform higher thinking skills and articulate visual and art historical concepts in verbal and written forms.
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The Art History AP course is designed to allow students to examine major forms of artistic expression relevant to a variety of cultures evident in wide variety of periods from present times into the past.
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Like any creative field, art history has its own language. While this can be overwhelming, a handy glossary of art terms can make analyzing a work of art a lot less intimidating. Whether you're familiar with the field or new to Art History , this list of terms will help you a master of art analysis. Free AP Art History resources organized by general topics. Each concept includes free example questions with detailed solutions.