322 Pages 12 Color & 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    322 Pages 12 Color & 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    322 Pages 12 Color & 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Now in its second edition, this volume is an accessible introduction to the history of art. Using an international range of examples, it provides the reader with a toolkit of concepts, ideas and methods relevant to understanding art history.

    This new edition is fully updated with colour illustrations, increased coverage of non-western art and extended discussions of contemporary art theory. It introduces key ideas, issues and debates, exploring questions such as:

    • What is art and what is meant by art history?
    • What approaches and methodologies are used to interpret and evaluate art?
    • How have ideas regarding medium, gender, identity and difference informed representation?
    • What perspectives can psychoanalysis, semiotics and social art histories bring to the study of the discipline?
    • How are the processes of postcolonialism, decolonisation and globalisation changing approaches to art history?

    Complete with helpful subject summaries, a glossary, suggestions for future reading and guidance on relevant image archives, this book is an ideal starting point for anyone studying art history as well as general readers with an interest in the subject.

    Introduction to the second edition

    1 Art histories and art theories


    What is art?

    What is art history?

    The classical concept of ‘art’

    Plato’s idea of mimesis

    Issues arising from art as imitation

    Medieval art and its interpretation

    Art as imitation in the Renaissance

    Giorgio Vasari and the origins of western art history

    Early writing on art

    Academies and the ‘Hierarchy of Genres’

    Winckelmann, art history and the western Enlightenment

    Art as an expression of the ‘will to create’

    Aesthetic comparison and contrast

    Connoisseurship and art history

    The limits of connoisseurship

    Bell’s theory of ‘significant form’

    The theory of art as expression

    Objections to Collingwood’s theory

    Art as abstraction or idea

    Art understood as ‘family resemblance’

    The Institutional Theory of Art

    Art history in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

    Art history and the 1930s diaspora

    British Art History, the Courtauld and Warburg Institutes

    The ‘New Art History’

    Beyond the ‘New Art History’


    Further reading

    2 Formalism, modernism and modernity


    Formalist art theories and the avant-garde

    The formal components of painting and design

    Abstraction as process

    Formal language, abstraction and sculpture

    Observations on formal analysis

    Formalism as art practice and art theory

    Roger Fry and a British formalist tradition

    Avant-garde art and ‘the crisis of taste’

    Greenberg and the dominance of modernist theory

    Modernism and the White Cube hang

    Objections to Greenberg’s modernism

    Art after Greenberg


    Further reading

    3 Marxist and social art histories


    Who was Karl Marx?

    Art as ideology

    Contextual analyses

    David and the Paris Salon

    Reactions and responses to the Horatii

    The Horatii as political metaphor

    Iconography and iconology

    Iconology and ‘intrinsic meaning’

    Art, alienation and ‘species being’

    Art as commodity and a ‘deposit of a social relationship’

    Superstructure and infrastructure

    Art and agency – ‘life creates consciousness, not consciousness life’

    David’s Horatii as a revolutionary manifesto

    The Horatii as a canonical painting of the French Revolution

    Tendency and social commitment – what should art and artists do?

    Malevich’s Black Square and the ‘zero of forms’

    Social interpretation and meaning

    Art and the ‘social command’: Soviet Socialist Realism and its legacies

    Social realism in Europe

    Critical theory, the ‘Frankfurt School’ and Gerhard Richter

    T. J. Clark and a British Marxist tradition

    New social and political constellations


    Further reading

    4 Semiotics and poststructuralism


    Introducing language and linguistics

    Ferdinand de Saussure

    Charles Sanders Peirce

    Developments of semiosis

    Art and semiotics

    Signs and representations of reality

    Modalities of the sign

    Challenging ‘reality’

    Whose ‘reality’?

    Structural analysis

    Syntagmatic analysis of images

    Discourse and power

    Discourse and ‘metanarratives’

    Paradigmatic oppositions

    Binary oppositions and art


    Figurative language

    Social semiotics

    Poststructuralism and its critics


    Further reading

    5 Psychoanalysis, art and the fractured self


    Freud, psychoanalysis and psycho-sexual development

    The Oedipus complex

    The psyche’s tripartite structure

    Instinctual energies, creativity and sublimation

    Surrealism and psychoanalysis

    Gombrich and psychoanalysis

    Klein, Stokes, Fuller and the ‘Infant–Mother’ paradigm

    Lacan: the mirror stage; the symbolic, the imaginary and the real

    Feminist challenges to the Freudian and Lacanian psyche

    Creativity, sadism and perversion

    A Freudian postscript: from symptoms to symbols

    Art and abjection

    Abjection, ambivalence and contemporary art


    Further reading

    6 Representations of gender, sex and sexualities


    Defining sex, gender and sexuality

    Classical representation of the human form

    Visualising gender difference

    Gender, status and power

    Challenges to gender boundaries

    Viewing the nude

    The gaze: the pleasure of looking

    Mary Cassatt’s challenge to the male gaze

    Caught in the act: subverting the pleasure of the gaze

    Feminism and art history

    Feminist interventions in art

    Expanding feminism

    Contemporary art history and feminism

    Gender perspectives on contemporary art

    Developments in gender studies

    New paradigms of gender, sex and sexuality

    Queer theory and LGBTQIA+

    Beyond gender: the body as sensorium and spectacle


    Further reading

    7 Art and art histories since the 1960s


    Art and ‘paradigm shifts’

    Duchamp’s readymades

    American hegemony and a new order

    Death of the author

    Art, objecthood and theatricality

    Art as commodity and concept

    The Institutional Theory of Art

    Limitations of the Institutional Theory

    Lyotard and the death of the ‘metanarratives’

    New countercultures for the 1960s and 1970s

    Photography, cultural reproduction and oppositional postmodern cultures

    Approaching the postmodern and late modern: how soon is now?

    The contemporary as ‘critical pluralism’

    Visual cultures and ‘double-coding’

    Baudrillard and the four orders of the simulacra

    ‘The End of History’?

    Relational Aesthetics


    Further Reading

    8 Postcolonialism, globalisation and art histories


    Western-centrism within art history

    Global cultural and artistic interactions

    Western artistic appropriations and ‘Primitivism’

    The struggle for independence and decolonisation

    Edward Said and Orientalism

    Postcolonialism and postcolonial studies


    Legacies and continuities: empire, coloniality and the subaltern

    Interpreting cultural interaction and exchange

    Identity, agency and place

    Globalising art history and global contemporary art

    Afterword from Oceania


    Further reading



    Glossary of Terms


    Diana Newall is a Staff Tutor and an Associate Lecturer in Art History at The Open University and a Consultant Lecturer for Sotheby’s Institute of Art. She is co-author of The Chronology of Pattern (2011), has published on Cretan art and is editor of Art and Its Global Histories, A Reader (2017).

    Grant Pooke is an Honorary Senior Fellow in Art History of the University of Kent and teaches for The Open University. He is the author of Francis Klingender: A Marxist Art Historian Out of Time (2008), co-author of Fifty Key Texts in Art History (2012) and Narratives for Indian Modernity: The Aesthetic of Brij Mohan Anand (2016).

    The second edition of Art History: The Basics continues the authors’ investments in making art history accessible to a variety of 21st-century readers. Clear and cogent, it reconsiders who and what "the basics" of art history are by freshening up the canon of intellectual debates, methodologies, and interpretations that form art history’s discourse in the west and incorporating more recent and urgent conversations about gender, sexual orientation, de-colonialization, and "otherness" that continue to impact the discipline in radical and transformative ways. Predicating a text on a transformative model, as Newall and Pooke have done, reminds readers that art history is an inherently living discourse demanding new revisions as it adheres to new and changing contexts now and into the future.

    Jordan Amirkhani, Professorial Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art History, American University, Washington, DC

    Few art history textbooks today address so comprehensively the underlying issues and histories of art history the way this book does. Without a doubt, this book is the new companion of every serious art history professor and instructor.

    May F. El-Hage, art historian and curator, Beirut, Lebanon

    Art History: The Basics is a highly practical source book for students and scholars, which ambitiously attempts to answer the question: 'What is art history?'. Covering a broad spectrum of key philosophical debates, it is nevertheless written in clear, accessible language. The subject is refreshingly presented as evolving and dynamic and the new edition includes sections on urgent contemporary issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement and recent global perspectives. This is a welcome addition to the bookshelf for students, art historians and general readers.  

    Katie Hill, Programme Director, MA Modern and Contemporary Asian Art, Sotheby's Institute of Art

    Newall and Pooke completed the second edition of Art History: The Basics in the middle of the global outbreak of the pandemic. In such a daunting and critical moment, this book first and foremost addresses two urgent questions: What is the relevance of art to the evolution of our civilization? How has art history been shaped by the turbulent events in human society? At a time when the history is being rewritten, Newall and Pooke’s book reinforces the necessity, more than ever, of understanding that art, as a form of expression, enables us to explore new ways of perceiving the world, and that artists, as creators, shaped and advanced art history: so it expands and continues.

    Kejia Wu, Faculty Member, Claremont Graduate University; Columnist, the Chinese Edition of the Financial Times.

    The new and revised edition of Newall and Pooke’s textbook not only introduces the reader to what actually constitutes the history of art, but also shows how the discipline has developed and changed through critical interventions into the subject from the social history of art through to postcolonialism. As such, it is essential reading for students studying the history of art or anyone else with an interest in the subject.

    Warren Carter, Lecturer in Art History, The Open University, UK