Mark W. Roskill's What is art history? PDF

By Mark W. Roskill

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Aspects of art historical practice which are imaginative and inventive in character, in such a way as not to fit at all with the claim of a scientific approach, have come to the fore accordingly. I have chosen to discuss those aspects separately, in a book titled The Interpretation of Pictures (University of Massachusetts Press, 1989). It too uses specific examples as illustrations, from within the same time Page 6 span. But exposition and opposing threads of argument are differently balanced there, with the latter assuming a greater relative prominence, so that the reader's perspicacity is addressed in other or further ways than in the present case.

Bührle, Zürich. predecessors. For example, the books of the great Italian art historian Cavalcaselle, written a century ago in collaboration with an Englishman named CroweA History of Painting in Italy and Titian, His Life and Times, which came out in 1871 and 1877were written on the basis of memory, and notes and drawings made in front of the works; and they were published without any illustrations. Nevertheless, despite source material, background knowledge and the additional aids provided by modern science, it is the individual work of art that is the ultimate source of insights.

Changes of labels on works of art, and changes in what is known and said about them, are not simply a shifting kind of game, which goes on without altering the fundamental nature or value of the work itself. A work of art is affected in the way in which it is seen, by the label it carries, reflecting how it is rated and what is known behind that label. And if it is to give up its secrets, assuming it has some, it most often has to be worked at. Particularly if it is a great work of art, it does not spontaneously lay itself open to us.

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