A History of Art History
An authoritative history of art history from its medieval origins to its modern predicamentsIn this wide-ranging and authoritative book, the first of its kind in English, Christopher Wood tracks the evolution of the historical study of art from the late middle ages through the rise of the modern scholarly discipline of art history. Synthesizing and assessing a vast array of writings, episodes, and personalities, this original and accessible account of the development of art-historical thinking will appeal to readers both inside and outside the discipline. The book shows that the pioneering chroniclers of the Italian Renaissance--Lorenzo Ghiberti and Giorgio Vasari--measured every epoch against fixed standards of quality. Only in the Romantic era did art historians discover the virtues of medieval art, anticipating the relativism of the later nineteenth century, when art history learned to admire the art of all societies and to value every work as an index of its times. The major art historians of the modern era, however--Jacob Burckhardt, Aby Warburg, Heinrich Wölfflin, Erwin Panofsky, Meyer Schapiro, and Ernst Gombrich--struggled to adapt their work to the rupture of artistic modernism, leading to the current predicaments of the discipline. Combining erudition with clarity, this book makes a landmark contribution to the understanding of art history.-- "Apollo Magazine"
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About the Author
"In this exemplary and engaging book, Christopher Wood offers a bird's-eye perspective on the history of art history that few scholars could match."--Whitney Davis, author of Visuality and Virtuality
"Wood's history is one of only a handful of book-length attempts to offer a synthetic treatment of the history of art history ... Owing to its extraordinary range and original insights, it is destined to become the standard work for many years to come."---Sam Rose, Apollo Magazine
"[T]his substantial volume is more than just a chronicle of half-forgotten scholarship or a thrashing out of methodological issues of little import. In fact, A History of Art History will be eye-opening for anyone who cares about art."---Barry Schwabsky, Hyperallergic
"Shortlisted for the Apollo Awards Book of the Year, Apollo Magazine"
"Wood's account of what art historians do - and how they have done it over the centuries - is a typically learned and polemical work that challenges the reader with its many approaches and arguments."--Apollo Magazine
"Well informed and extremely personal, this is a brilliant overview of writings on art, from responses to the recovery of art representing ancient gods c. 800 CE through to the anti-formalist revolution of the present day. The amount of carefully considered information packed into this compact volume is breathtaking. Wood (NYU) takes on not only professional writers on art but also practitioners such as Piranesi and William Blake--whose emotional critiques of the past made them, in effect, historians of art. Writing in a rather leisurely narrative style, Wood places selected authors within a precise historical moment. Original perceptions are scattered like bonbons--for example, an analysis of Aby Warburg and Alois Riegl locates them as very different but very much related classifiers of the image within late 19th and early 20th century devotion to formalism. There is a fascinating chapter on the foundation of the Louvre in the context of the French Revolution. . . . The book stands as a much-needed contribution at a time when the discipline badly needs an appreciative, even-handed view of the past."---D. Pincus, Choice
[T]he research compiled here does not stumbled into abstractions that the topic invites, but really delivers an accurate
history of the changes in this culture-defining field . . . this book is really needed.
"Wood's intimacy with the material is self-evident. He offers any number of remarkably lucid exegeses of complex and easily misunderstood concepts (Riegl's Kunstwollen) and texts (Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics), and brings in numerous lesser-known thinkers."---Rachel Wetzler, Art in America