Art history spans the entire history of humankind, from prehistoric times to the twenty-first century. Whether you like to observe caveman paintings or Botticelli angels, you can find visual arts that challenge your creative side and inspire you to find beauty in manmade forms.
In modern times, art history has emerged as a discipline that specializes in teaching people how to evaluate and interpret works of art based on their own perspective. Art history has frequently been criticized for its subjectivity because the definition of what is beautiful varies from individual to individual. Learning to evaluate what you see by building on the art forms you already know can develop your aesthetic understanding.
Claude Monet once said, “It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”
In keeping with Monet, consider how to observe as many works of art as possible. You will develop a sense of your favorite styles and time periods, and you will be able to use the vocabulary of art to discuss your appreciation of art with others. If you love Botticelli, you will be able to recognize the theme he chooses for each painting and which symbols and figures he uses most often during the Renaissance.
Combining exposure to art history with the desire to foster art appreciation in others represents a happy medium. The art teacher or art historian can inspire you with a survey of the many time periods in art history. For example, you can become a huge fan of the Renaissance because, like the French, Dutch, Italian, and Spanish masters, you share the same desire to reconcile humanism with human religion.
Art history requires you to study and describe what you see in terms of the design elements of line, shape, color, value, and texture. Once you write a response to one work of art, you can compare it to another work of art. An alternative is to make comparisons and contrasts between artists and their artistic works with the mind’s eye. As you explore the fascinating world of art, a beautiful collection of thousands of years of human experience, you will want to travel farther from your home to see works of art in person.
The great thing about the Internet is that the world’s art repositories bring famous works of visual art to you through online exhibitions and virtual tours. However you decide to develop your sense of art history and appreciation, look for every opportunity to enrich your life with paintings, prints, mixed media, sculpture, and drawings.
Don’t forget to share your art appreciation with others because art makes every ordinary life just a little bit more exquisite!