Critical Terms for Art History
University of Chicago Press
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and it is not much different with art. So how does one define and describe what art is objectively and accurately without letting preferences take over?
Critical Terms for Art History tries to offer a reference point when it comes to the vocabulary, methodology and terminology of the widely debated terrain that is art history. With essays that not only elaborate extensively on each term but also look at the issues and different interpretations different schools have, the tome serves as a veritable framework.
I find the elaborations especially interesting when e.g. “ugliness” and “beauty” are shed light on – face value terms that are often too quickly used in a superficial and judgmental manner.
Despite its head heaviness fret not as a Ph.D. is not necessarily required to understand it, but it is a nice intellectual workout. However, having a tad bit of art history and art criticism background will exponentially enjoy the benefits and enjoyment one will get out of it.
The authorities, expertise and variety of the authors adds to the subject matter as their individual background adds another dimension to their explorations.
I specifically enjoyed the demystification of some terms and the challenging of what is commonly perceived to be cast in stone approaches to art. The book is not exactly an exercise in iconoclasm but as despite what the title suggests, it steers clear from affirming established art critical standards.
A fantastically erudite source of information that I would recommend to anyone remotely interested in visiting museums whenever they have a chance.