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1.1: What is Art History?

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    Art history is a little bit of science, art analysis, detective work, archeology, history, the study of civilizations, people, rulers – all the things that go into creating art. The people, the places, the wars, the rise and fall of dictators, civilizations, the trends and fashions, the buildings and cities are all part of art history –and the focus is often on the most influential art movements, styles, and people.

    The Art History Ws

    • Who (made the work)

    • What (medium – material and technique)

    • Where (what part of the world/city state/country)

    • When (time period)

    • Why (for enjoyment/propaganda/tell a story/teach)

    • With prehistoric art, we basically know Where and When, and not much else!

    Context – How to Approach the Work

    • Do not look at historical art through the lens of your values and beliefs

    • Learn about the civilization, peoples, or person who created the art

    • Use any existing clues to determine the meaning of the art

    • There may be written documents or in the case of prehistoric art, no documents at all

    • Times of conflict and war = survival – not a conducive environment to create art

    • Nomadic people create portable art (smaller in scale)

    1.1: What is Art History? is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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