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Art History 101: Overview

Art History

What is Art History?

Art history might seem like a relatively straightforward concept: “art” and “history” are subjects most of us first studied in elementary school. In practice, however, the idea of “the history of art” raises complex questions. What exactly do we mean by art, and what kind of history (or histories) should we explore? Let’s consider each term further.

The word “art” is derived from the Latin ars, which originally meant “skill” or “craft.” These meanings are still primary in other English words derived from ars, such as “artifact” (a thing made by human skill) and “artisan” (a person skilled at making things). The meanings of “art” and “artist,” however, are not so straightforward. We understand art as involving more than just skilled craftsmanship. What exactly distinguishes a work of art from an artifact, or an artist from an artisan? Continue reading from Smart History

Library Resources

Art History Research Guide - Created by the Westport Library Reference Department, this guide is filled with links to resources that will help you research and write about art. Start here!

JSTOR - JSTOR is a highly selective digital library of academic content in many formats and disciplines. The collections include top peer-reviewed scholarly journals as well as respected literary journals, academic monographs, research reports from trusted institutes, and primary sources.

Academic Search Premier - Academic Search Premier is a leading multidisciplinary research database. It provides acclaimed full-text journals, magazines and other valuable resources.


From the Collection

Link to Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Mae Art and Made History by Bridget Quinn in the Catalog
Link to Janson's History of Art by HW Janson in the Catalog
Link to The Brilliant History of Color in Art by Victoria Finlay in the Catalog
Link to How To See: Looking, Talking, and Thinking About Art by in the Catalog
Link to Seeing Slowly: Looking at Modern Art by Michael Findlay in the Catalog
Link to Always Looking by John Updike in the Catalog
Link to The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide in the Catalog
Link to Art: Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest Artists and Their Worlds by Susie Hodge in the Catalog
Link to The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal in the Catalog
Link to Art Lover: A Biography of Peggy Guggenheim by Anton Gill in the Catalog
Link to Oceanic Art by Stefano Vecchia in the Catalog
Link to Reductionism in Art and Brain Science by Eric Kandel in the Catalog
Link to The Oxford History of Classical Art edited by John Boardman in the Catalog
Link to The Art and Architecture of Islam 1250-1800 by Sheila Blair in the Catalog
Link to Visitor-Centered Exhibitions and Edu-Curation in Art Museums edited by Pat Villeneuve and Ann Rowson Love in the Catalog
Link to Art Nouveau and The Classical Tradition by Richard Warren in the Catalog
Link to Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury in the Catalog
Link to The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel in the Catalog
Link to African Art: From the Menil Collection edited by Kristina Van Dyke in the Catalog
Link to Chinese Art and Dynastic Time  by Wu Hung in the catalog
Link to The Rape of Europa by H. Lynn Nicholas in the Catalog
Link to Romare Bearden in the Homeland of His Imagination by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore in the catalog

Link to Art Heists that Made History resource guide series