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9780130302977

Great Themes in Art
Great Themes in Art
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  • ISBN-13: 9780130302977
  • ISBN: 013030297X
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  • Publisher: Prentice Hall

AUTHOR

SUMMARY

Preface I have written this book for those seeking an introduction to art and art history that emphasizes the connections between art and human values. My basic approach is to combine a chronological and thematic structure that focuses on artistic responses to human experience as it both recurs and changes through time. When I was a student in art history, the standard texts analyzed the stylistic changes represented by great works of art. They explained how to differentiate the style of the drapery folds in Romanesque and Gothic sculpture; they elaborated on the stylistic differences between Rubens and Rembrandt. But I and my fellow students were often left wondering, so what? What was the larger human significance of these differences? My professors, on the other hand, introduced a methodology of art analysis that encouraged us to look for the links between the artistic form, expressive content, and social contexts of art. Always, we were made aware of the values and meaning embodied in art and architecture, as also manifest through the process of stylistic change. This led to the satisfying discovery that artists vividly express humanity's deepest-held values, desires, hopes and fears, and that buildings, beyond their formal "textbook" qualities, also serve practical functions, and convey potent symbolic meaning within the larger social fabric of cities. Max Beckmann has, perhaps, expressed art's significance as well as anyone can: "...all important things in art...have always originated from the deepest feelings about the mystery of Being.... It is the quest of our self that drives us along the eternal and never-ending journey we must all make." The joy of sharing such insights with my students and the desire to go beyond mere "art appreciation" inspired this book. Organization ofGreat Themes in Art Most introductory texts have not changed since my student days. They still present art by examining successive styles as they unfold chronologically. Others focus on media, techniques, and design principles. Both approaches isolate art from its larger social contexts -- from the dominant values and ideas of the culture that inspired it. This book seeks to address that imbalance by uniting these two approaches with a thematic structure:Great Themesmoves chronologically through the periods and styles of Western art relating stylistic and technical changes to the social and intellectual context of the period. Introductory sections set the stage for students to understand how works of art express the key values, insights and aspirations of its makers, their patrons, and the surrounding culture. Following each introduction, works of art from the period are grouped and discussed within four themes, each representing a major dimension of human experience: Spiritualityexamines artists' expressions of religious faith, spiritual aspiration, and humanity's place in the universe. A wide range of works introduces students to artists' changing responses to this universal, powerful dimension of human life. Students will also see how religious art reflects the powerful and changing role of the Christian church in Western culture. The Selfencompasses works that express social and political values. In these sections, we consider artists' perceptions of themselves and others -- as well as their expressions of the way otherswishto be perceived. Students will discover art that projects and enhances royal and aristocratic power and vanity; art that reflects on middle class domestic life; art that constructs and reinforces gender roles; and art that explores humanity's search for meaning in an uncertain, modern world. The final chapters introduce students to artists' expressions of outrage and despair in the years after two world wars. Students will also encounter artists' reactions to the consumer culture of the post- war years andE. John Walford is the author of 'Great Themes in Art', published 2001 under ISBN 9780130302977 and ISBN 013030297X.

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