What is Art History?
Ar=orms, ch. 13
Form, Content, Meaning,
Subject MaIer, Intent,
Theory, Formalism, Art for
Art’s Sake, Greenbergian
Theory, Catharsis, Arousal
Theory, Contextual, Social
History of Art, Zeitgeist,
Framing Devices, White Cube,
of a work of art.
serves to assess art’s
value to us now.
serves to analyze
art in its historical
Both Art Cri&cism and Art History rely on Art Theory.
noun \ˈthē-‐ə-‐rē, ˈthir-‐ē\
1: the analysis of a set of facts in their rela&on to one another
2: abstract thought : specula&on
3: the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an
4a : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of
ac&on learn> b : an ideal or hypothe&cal set of facts, principles, or
circumstances —ogen used in the phrase in theory have always advocated freedom for all>
5: a plausible or scien&ﬁcally acceptable general principle or body of
principles oﬀered to explain phenomena
6a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or inves&ga&on b :
an unproved assump&on : conjecture c : a body of theorems
presen&ng a concise systema&c view of a subject equa&ons>
1. What is my ﬁrst response to the work?
2. When and where was the work made? By
whom and for whom was it made?
3. What did the work originally look like?
4. What does the form contribute to the works
5. Where would the work originally have been
6. What purpose did the work serve?
7. What is the &tle? Does it contribute to the
• Formalist Theories
• Expression Theories
• Contextual Theories
• Marxist Theories
• Psychoanaly&c Theories
• Postcolonialist Theories
(In Ar6orms, ch. 13)
James McNeill Whistler
Dante Gabriel Roses
James McNeill Whistler, Peacock Room, 1876
Josef Albers, Study for Homage to the Square, 1954-‐1956
1. What does the work look like?
2. How does the work use the “elements of
design” (i.e. composi&on, color, line, etc.)?
3. How are the “principles of design” (i.e. rhythm,
balance, emphasis, etc.) present in the work?
4. How do the “elements” and “principles” interact
with one another?
5. What do you reac&ons to the work’s form say
about your taste?
Plato (5th century BCE)
Aristotle (4th century BCE)
Leo Tolstoy (1828-‐1910)
R.G. Collingwood (1880-‐1943)
BenedeIo Croce (1866-‐1952)
John Dewey (1859-‐1952)
Ernst Cassirer (1874-‐1945)
Susanne Langer (1895-‐1985)
Eugene Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830
Wasily Kandinsky, ImprovisaBon 28, 1912
1. What is your ins&nctual reac&on to the work
2. What emo&ons are present in the work?
How are they present?
3. Who was the ar&st?
4. What were the emo&ons of the ar&st was
trying to express?
5. What message was the ar&st trying to
Arnold Hauser (1892-‐1978)
Theodor W. Adorno (1903-‐1969)
Louis Althusser (1918-‐1990)
Walter Benjamin (1892-‐1940)
Pierre Bourdieu (1930-‐2002)
Shifra Goldman (1926-‐)
Albert Boime (1933-‐2008)
Jules Prown (1930-‐)
1. When and where was the work of art made?
2. How does the work of art illustrate the values or
social condi&ons of this &me?
3. Does the work of art conform to or rebel against
prevailing ideals of this context?
4. What was life like for people when this work
5. What were the social and economic condi&ons
of the &me and place the work was made?
6. Who was the ar&st? How did they ﬁt in this
Choice of objects to
The grouping or
separa&on of objects.
The categoriza&on of
The loca&on of displays.
The design of displays.
The didac&c materials.
Museums “frame” our understanding and interpreta&on of cultures and historical periods.
Tell a story.
Lend importance to
Declare an object to be
an artwork or an
Plan of the Hamilton Building and the North
Building, Denver Art Museum.
The White Cube
Resnick Pavillion, LACMA (Los Angeles County
Museum of Art).
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decora&ve
Art, Denver, founded in 1980.
The Enlightenment Room, Bri&sh Museum
Paris Salon, 18th century.
Thunder Bay Museum, Thunder Bay,
Lawrence A. Fleischmann Gallery, Smithsonian
American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Portland Art Museum
SeaIle Art Museum, SeaIle, Washington
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
Direc&ons to the
op&ons are on
From your worksheet write your 3-‐4 page paper