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.
Table of Contents
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’
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
3 Marxist and social art histories
Who was Karl Marx?
Art as ideology
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
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
Syntagmatic analysis of images
Discourse and power
Discourse and ‘metanarratives’
Binary oppositions and art
Poststructuralism and its critics
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
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
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
7 Art and art histories since the 1960s
Art and ‘paradigm shifts’
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’?
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
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