art history

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art history,

the study of works of art and architecture. In the mid-19th cent., art history was raised to the status of an academic discipline by the Swiss Jacob BurckhardtBurckhardt, Jacob or Jakob Christoph
, 1818–97, Swiss historian, one of the founders of the cultural interpretation of history. He studied under Ranke at the Univ.
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, who related art to its cultural environment, and the German idealists Alois Riegl, Heinrich WölfflinWölfflin, Heinrich
, 1864–1945, Swiss art historian. Wölfflin's formal stylistic analysis of motifs and composition in art combined cultural history and psychological insight into the creative process to form a complete aesthetic system.
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, and Wilhelm Worringer. The latter three saw art history as the analysis of forms and viewed art apart from any function it serves in expressing the spirit of its age. Major 20th-century art historians include Henri Focillon, Bernard BerensonBerenson, Bernard
, 1865–1959, American art critic and connoisseur of Italian art, b. Lithuania, grad. Harvard, 1887. An expert and an arbiter of taste, he selected for art collectors innumerable paintings, many of which are now in museums.
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, Aby Warburg, Émile MâleMâle, Émile
, 1862–1954, French art historian. Mâle pioneered the study of French art of the Middle Ages, its forms, and especially the Eastern sources of sculptural iconography of the cathedrals of France.
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, Erwin PanofskyPanofsky, Erwin
, 1892–1968, American art historian, b. Germany, Ph.D. Univ. of Freiburg, 1914. After teaching (1921–33) at the Univ. of Hamburg and serving as professor of fine arts at New York Univ.
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, and Ernst Gombrich; the succeeding generation has included Michael Fried, Rosalind Krauss, Donald Kuspit, and Giselda Pollack. Modern art history is a broad field of inquiry embracing formal questions of stylistic development as well as considerations of social and cultural context. Since the 1970s, a heightened awareness of gender, ethnicity, and environmental issues has marked the work of many art historians.


See A. Hauser, The Social History of Art (4 vol., 1958–60); M. Podro, The Critical Historians of Art (1982); E. H. Gombrich, The Story of Art (16th ed. 1995); P. J. E. Davies et al. Janson's History of Art (8th ed. 2010); H. Honour and J. Fleming, The Visual Arts: A History (rev. 7th ed. 2013).

References in periodicals archive ?
Berenson remained deeply ambivalent about his Jewish inheritance and, after studying Hebrew and Sanskrit at Harvard, and writing his undergraduate dissertation on the subject of 'Talmudo-Rabbinical Eschatology', he converted to Christianity, first as a Protestant in Boston and later as a Catholic in Italy, and was very hostile to the German Jewish art historians who established iconography as a core disipline.
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