All you need about Art History
Visual art surrounds us as we go about our daily bread-winning. It has designs upon the photographs we see in magazines, the advertisements peppering our streets, the latest ‘in-vogue’ colors of the fashion world. It even influences the buildings that stare down at us as we walk to work. A piece of art can symbolize an entire period of history, such as Michelangelo’s statue of David, or Andy Warhol’s pop-art banana.
The history of art is long and complex. Art began with the earliest cave-paintings of the Neanderthals, through to the primal civilizations of the Egyptians and the Greeks, all the way through Europe and the explosion in artistic appreciation during the Renaissance, right up to the current day with modern artists such as Damien Hurst and Gilbert & George.
The study of art can be a fascinating one, as advances in artistic expression tend to mirror advances in human civilization. Thanks to the web, no longer do you have to be an art school graduate to be able to appreciate art and its rich history. Here at the top ten ‘go-to’ sites worthy of your artistic consideration.
1. The Renaissance Connection- http://www.renaissanceconnection.org/
Hosted by the Allentown Art Museum, which is in Pennsylvanian, this interactive site allows you to travel back half a century and work your way through the hundreds of innovations that this unique period in art history inspired. You can become an innovator yourself, and explore a huge amount of Renaissance artworks in depth, all presented with a humorous yet engaging slant. You will discover how important this period was to both art and the development of the civilized world.
2. Smart History- smarthistory.khanacademy.org/
Another site full of multimedia, but with a more serious application. This site, which is presented by the Khan Academy, will take you though almost two thousand years of art history, from ancient culture in the times before Christ, right up to the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century. Information is presented via articles and videos and there is plenty to learn – did you know for example that the oldest, firmly-dated piece of art ever discovered is 82,000 years old?
3. The Writing Center- writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/art-history/
If you are new to the study and appreciation of the history of art, and you don’t really know how or where to get started, this handout made by the University of North Carolina’s Writing Center should be a pointer in the right direction. It explores what art history actually means, the sort of work you might like to undertake (both formally and casually), and how best to achieve this. It also suggests some resources you may consider to get you going.
4. The Metropolitan Museum of Art- www.metmuseum.org
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street in New York City. If that is beyond your realms of travel then don’t fret, as the museum hosts visiting exhibitions across the continent. If that still isn’t a possibility, then you’ll just have to make do with the museum’s excellent web-site. You can browse many of the museum’s works, which date from around 2000 BC right up to the modern day.
5. MoMA- www.moma.org/learn/activities/
MoMA in an acronym for the Museum of Modern Art, situated in midtown Manhattan, NYC, on West 53rd Street. If you are new to art, you can explore the site’s comprehensive A-Z, which will explain to you the many terms and periods of the artistic world over the last one hundred years or so. The Artist A-Z gives detailed biographies of thousands of painters, sculptors and performance artists.
6. Learn Out Loud- www.learnoutloud.com/Content/Topic-Pages/Art-History-101
Learn Out Loud brands itself as the ‘one-stop’ destination for audio and video learning, and acts as a gateway to scores of audiovisual resources, including regular educational podcasts. Included amongst the resources we found were detailed audio biographies of Michelangelo and Rembrandt. Some of the resources available on the site required a purchase price, but the site also had a section on stuff that is available for free.
7. Incredible Art Department- www.incredibleart.org
If you really want to get learning, then this site could just be the place you need. The site is a repository of hundreds of lessons, all donated by professionally-qualified teachers. The lessons are categorized into all stages of learning, from preschool right through to college-standard. Each lesson typically comes with learning texts, worksheets, presentations and a final assessment. Most of the lessons are designed to teach you how to become an artist, but there are a vast arrays of examples that cover art history as well.
8. Museum of Fine Arts- www.mfah.org
Our third museum-based website, the Museum of Fine Arts is located in Houston, which has been standing in Houston’s Museum District for over 100 years. Their web-site allows you to take a virtual tour around many of the Museum’s finest works, and they helpfully list what they consider to be the top one hundred to get you started. You can also learn about specialist exhibitions the museum has hosted and has upcoming.
9. Art History- Resources www.arthistoryresources.net
This personal site has been online since 1995, and is a keenly-maintained collection of art history links, all put together by the writer Dr Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe. Every imaginary era of art history is accommodated and in incredible detail, from prehistoric times
up to the modern era. There are also specialist sections on Chinese and Japanese art, as well as more encompassing sections on African, American and Asia art. Once you have begun to understand what the study of art history entails, this is surely your next stepping-off point.
Artlex is an A-Z style online encyclopedia for artists, students and educators who are concerned with the production of art or the study of its history. The site defines more than 3,600 artistic terms, along with thousands of images and cross references. If you’re stuck on a particular term during your art history journey, then this site should definitely number amongst your bookmarks.