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Art history

Art history is the study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, , and style. This includes the "major" arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture as well as the "minor" arts of ceramics, furniture, and other decorative objects.

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. Unfortunately the current disciplinary gap between art history and the philosophy of art (aesthetics) often hinders this inquiry.

See: Formal analysis.
Listed by date
  • Pollock, Griselda (ed.) (2006). Psychoanalysis and the Image. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Charlene Spretnak, The Spiritual Dynamic in Modern Art : Art History Reconsidered, 1800 to the Present.
  • Shiner, Larry. (2003). "The Invention of Art: A Cultural History". Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Mansfield, Elizabeth (2002). Art History and Its Institutions: Foundations of a Discipline. Routledge.
  • Harrison, Charles, and Paul Wood. (2003). Art in Theory, 1900–2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
  • Murray, Chris. (2003). Key Writers on Art. 2 vols, Routledge Key Guides. London: Routledge.
  • Harrison, Charles, Paul Wood, and Jason Gaiger. (2000). Art in Theory 1648-1815: An Anthology of Changing Ideas. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
  • Harrison, Charles, Paul Wood, and Jason Gaiger. (2001). Art in theory, 1815–1900: an anthology of changing ideas. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
  • Buchloh, Benjamin. (2001). Neo-Avantgarde and Culture Industry. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Clark, T.J. (2001). Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Robinson, Hilary. (2001). Feminism-Art-Theory: An Anthology, 1968-2000. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
  • Minor, Vernon Hyde. (2001). Art history's history. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Pollock, G., (1999). Differencing the Canon. Routledge.
  • Frazier, N. (1999). The Penguin concise dictionary of art history. New York: Penguin Reference.
  • Adams, L. (1996). The methodologies of art: an introduction. New York, NY: IconEditions.
  • Nelson, R. S., & Shiff, R. (1996). Critical terms for art history. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Minor, Vernon Hyde. (1994). Critical Theory of Art History. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Fitzpatrick, V. L. N. V. D. (1992). Art history: a contextual inquiry course. Point of view series. Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.
  • Kemal, Salim, and Ivan Gaskell (1991). The Language of Art History. Cambridge University Press.
  • Carrier, D. (1991). Principles of art history writing. University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press.
  • Johnson, W. M. (1988). Art history: its use and abuse. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Holly, M. A. (1984). Panofsky and the foundations of art history. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.
  • Arntzen, E., & Rainwater, R. (1980). Guide to the literature of art history. Chicago: American Library Association.
  • Hauser, A. (1959). The philosophy of art history. New York: Knopf.
  • Wölfflin, H. (1915, trans. 1932). Principles of art history; the problem of the development of style in later art. [New York]: Dover Publications.


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