Art history might seem like a relatively straightforward concept: “art” and “history” are subjects most of us first studied in elementary school. In practice, however, the idea of “the history of art” raises complex questions. What exactly do we mean by art, and what kind of history (or histories) should we explore?
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Darkness at noon? There are so many stories of art these days, you’re sure to stay awake in class.
History is untidy. Though imperfect, defining periods and styles can order the chaos of millennia.
Methods change, the canon expands, and we write history anew. Long focused on the West, the field is going global.
There have always been women in the arts, just not in the history books—or even in our museums. Change is slow.
Pay attention! Identifying symptoms and solving crimes require many of the same skills as art historical analysis.
Attitudes towards objects differ between cultures. Don’t discriminate art from craft—call it all “the visual arts.”
These museum professionals do it for a living. Stop, take a breath, and open your eyes—it’s your answer that counts.
Whose property is it anyway? Even when we’re talking about humanity’s greatest achievements, institutions disagree.
Whether you’re centered on Jerusalem or relegated to a spot “down under,” maps reflect belief as much as location.
Artistic labor has changed over time—so has its perceived value. Now a mere idea can be worth its weight in gold.
Where to begin? Depending on the calendar, it all starts with Christ’s birth, the new moon, or Pope Gregory.