Intro to Art History. Art History. A. Art History – focuses on recreating social, cultural, and economic contexts in which an artwork was created 1) Goal of art history -> understand the artwork and its meaning B. Art history is not definite!
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Intro to Art History
A. Art History – focuses on recreating social, cultural, and economic contexts in which an artwork was created
1) Goal of art history -> understand the artwork and its meaning
B. Art history is not definite!
1)It is related to other areas (i.e. anthropology) and often overlaps with aesthetics and art criticism
2)Definition of “art” has become more broad than it was in earlier times
3)The meaning of an artwork can change over time and from a different perspective.
A. Art generally analyzed in two forms: formal and contextual.
1) Formal analysis – focus on visual qualities. Artist’s decisions on visual aspects (i.e. color choice) relate to meaning of artwork.
2) Contextual analysis – looks outside the artwork to consider culture, economy, location, etc. of work’s origin for meaning of artwork.
B. Art historians often assume the art of one culture will affect the art of a future culture.
A. Arose as a discipline in mid-eighteenth century.
1)Evolved from ancient Roman Pliny the Elder to Enlightenment thinkers and even present-day art historians.
A. Oldest works of art – cave paintings in Chauvet Cave, France.
1) Natural pigments used to draw outlines of animals, possibly as part of rituals.
B. Venus women statues from Old Stone Age cultures suggest value of fertility.
C. Lascaux cave paintings first art to include both humans and animals.
A. Cave and rock paintings continue to appear in southwestern Europe.
1) Lascaux still only site of human subjects in artwork.
A. Rings and rows of stones (i.e. Stonehenge) appear in Europe.
1) “Heel-stone” sits northeast of site, marking point where sun rises on midsummer solstice.
A. Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) was site of strong religious influence.
1) Religious temples evolved to become stepped pyramids called ziggurats.
B. After Babylonian invasion, pillar containing Hammurabi’s Code becomes symbol of law and order
C. During Assyrian period, relief carvings became popular to depict important historical events.
A. Known for palace at Persepolis (influenced by Egyptian art)
A. Architecture of Predynastic period (before conquest by Alexander the Great)
1) Sphinx, pyramids at Giza, pharaoh statues.
B. Hierarchical scale – status of person determines size in artwork (kings would be largest, defeated enemies smallest)
C. Fractional representation – each part of body shown as much as possible (profile of head, torso in full frontal view, profile of arms and legs).
D. Pharaohs’ tombs often sites of much decoration and art.
As much of body as possible is shown
A. Little is known on Nubian art, but art historians continue to search for clues.
D. Relief sculptures common would glorify empire
1. Emperors and military victories
2. Reliefs on tombs to honor the dead
E. Statues and busts became common for funeral processions
1. Still followed idealistic style
F. Texture – how something feels to thee touch
A. Actual and visual (how it looks like it will feel)
G. Value – the lightness or darkness of a color
A. Color + white = tint; color + black = shade
B. Black and white are neutrals (not hues)