User:LGreg/sandbox/Approaches to Knowledge (LG seminar)/Group 1/History/History of Art - Minnie and Lola

History of European Art edit

What is Historiography? edit

History as an issue is particularly relevant to Art History. Indeed, the way in which the arts are studied is changing significantly according to the socio-cultural paradigms of different periods. Thus Historiography studies "the writing of history, especially the writing of history based on the critical examination of sources, the selection of particular details from the authentic materials in those sources, and the synthesis of those details into a narrative that stands the test of critical examination. The term historiography also refers to the theory and history of historical writing" [1] which means that the way artworks are studied over the years is itself the subject of study.

How and when did the History of European Art emerge? edit

The study of History of European Art began in the 3rd millenium BC, as a form of research into Paleolithic rock and cave painting. The discipline focuses its research into different time periods, including: Pre-History, Ancient Art, Medieval, Renaissance and Modern. Art History is studied by looking in detail at the techniques, processes and materials of the artwork, as well as the subject that is depicted.

How has it changed? edit

The purpose of this discipline would be to explain and male works of art understandable, according to their time. But a main conflict within the discipline is the idea that the proper technique used may not give the exact message of an artwork to the viewer. Indeed, some art historians say that History of Art is rather about the viewer's experience as opposed to the formal analysis.

In addition, philosophical question regarding the fundamentals of this discipline. What is "art" and what is not? Can an artwork be explained? Should an artwork be explained? So many questions that have challenged the discipline.

Kant's perspective about understanding art edit

According to Kant, it is not possible to fully undertsand the "genius" of the artist. In opposition to the scientist, the artist does not necessarly have a preconceived idea of what he will produce, nor is he able to explain it. Thus, this would make art history a discipline that tries to explain things that the creator himself could not explain. This calls into question his history of discipline explaining the works.[2]

Freud's perspective about understanding art edit

For Freud, the artist usually turns away from reality or his desires are unfulfilled, which leads him to create art. The artist has a certain weakness to repress his desires, but a great ability to sublimate. Works of art are the imaginary satisfaction of unconscious desires, and art is this reserve organized during the transition from the principle of pleasure to the principle of reality: like a dream, art is a compromise. Thus, art history has a triple mode of investigation:

I- In a classic explaination of the work

II- In figures: psychoanalysis applied to the art

III- Social and historical condition: sociology applied to the art

In conclusion, History of Art engendered debates throughout over the years. Beyond the traditional description of the artwork, the discipline has had an history for being used for multiple studies (psychoanalysis, sociological...)

(By Minnie and Lola)

  1. Britannica Encylocpedia Available from: