HomeArt ArticlesGreat Works and Old MastersArt History: A Resource Guide

Art History: A Resource Guide


Art history refers to the academic study of artistic objects from various time periods. Each artistic object has its own stylistic context, including genre, design, format, and style. Art historians typically refer to major paintings, sculpture, and architecture, rather than ceramics, furniture, and other minor decorative objects. The field of art history encompasses three different schools of thought, including the connoisseur, the critic, and the academic art historian. Art criticism focuses on evaluating a historical object of artistic value, and comparing it with other individual works of a specific time period. Art theorists specialize in exploring the fundamental nature of art, including its aesthetics and underlying meaning. Each art historian inquires about a work of art by understanding who created it, how it was created, the influences that sparked its creation, how does the object function visually, what symbols are involved, and what historical movements brought the artistic work into fruition. The historical backbone of this discipline focuses on aesthetic creations commissioned by religious organizations and wealthy individuals of Western Europe; however, modern efforts have sought to incorporate a wider array of non-Western art, including artistic creations made by women.


Art students and enthusiasts eager to learn more about the historical origins of infamous art objects can visit their local arts center. Arts centers and fine art libraries typically offer large archives of art reproductions stemming from regions from all around the world. Many of these art institutions collaborate to collect and preserve art galleries and museums with newly discovered paintings, sculpture, and architectural structures. A large percentage of these art libraries are sponsored by major universities or similar educational institutions for further research and development.

Annual art conferences sponsored by a variety of organizations may also provide relevant art galleries. Professors, students, experts, and art enthusiasts usually attend these annual conferences to learn more about upcoming artists. In addition, these conferences provide the right networking opportunities for attendees to discuss events and other important announcements relevant to the art community.


Professors, students, experts, and art enthusiasts can benefit from the vast array of online art research tools that are freely available. These tools allow the participant to research documents that pertain to how history developed over time. In addition, many of these resources provide extensive backgrounds on the artists involved in the creation of the ancient and modern pieces. Research tools equip the art historian with an arsenal that can only be found in textbooks, and archived documents at one of the many fine arts institutions around the world.


Professors, students, experts, and art enthusiasts may also find interest in widely available teaching resources pertaining to the field of art history. Many of these resources provide teachers with material to include in their lectures, quizzes, and exams. Students can benefit by obtaining deeper insight into the core curriculum by utilizing the teacher's edition of the study guide. However, students who access these study guides should understand that not every professor will present the same information, or include the exact questions outlined within the teacher's edition of the study guide. In addition, students can use these resources for further reading, and gain addition help into subjects that require special attention.


A variety of art history organizations and associations are open to professors, students, experts, and art enthusiasts. Some require a membership fee, while others run a non-profit operation. Many of these organizations and associations offer annual conferences for interested parties. Others sponsor monthly meetings for members. Art history organizations are a great opportunity for local members to network and learn more about the academic discipline known as art history.


Professors, students, experts, and art enthusiasts may also purchase monthly art magazines and newsletters that regularly update subscribers with pertinent information about the art community. Many of these publications list important details about varying artistic pieces and the artists that created them. A large assortment of articles provide how-to tutorials on creating art pieces, historical background on newly discovered artwork, where to purchase rare artistic objects, and much more.



About the Author:
Clare Tames is a self-employed freelance graphic designer, formidable cook, and avid reader. She written on contemporary and classical art in various print publications, and is just now beginning a writing career online. She works out of her home office in California, where her two children attend high school. Expect more from her at ArtsHeaven.com and around the web, and, if you like, drop her a line at her Google+ page!