Art History is the study of aesthetic objects and visual expression in historical and stylistic context. This is a discipline where you can learn more about the various art forms of various times of history. It gives you an opportunity to look into the form of art and bring out fine inferences as who created it, why was it created, what was the cultural background and belief of people of that particular era, what drove the society then, who were the leaders and who were the followers.
It is very aptly said “A picture speaks thousand words” and it will not be wrong to state that “So does any other form of art”. The only skill required to do it is have a keen eye and a sound knowledge of the form of art you are trying to read and it will lay before you the minute details of those times automatically.
Studying Art History also greatly depends on what are your references. Which time you are studying and what is your personal mind-set or what your beliefs are, as that helps you to draw a particular conclusion from the live piece of art whose creator is non-existent to give you the details of his own thoughts and views.
There are many art movements historically like Medieval art, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Impressionism, Post-impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Art Deco, Abstract Expressionism, Contemporary art. These are some of the great historical Art movements in the Art History each having a particular style of its own.
Few questions one might think of to answer while studying art history looking at any art firm (like Mona Lisa, The girl with the Pear Earring, The Great Wave of Kanagawa, School of Athens to name a few paintings or Mannequin Pis, Bronze of Nefertiti, Capitoline Wolf to name a few sculptures) are:
- What was the main thought the creator of art had at that time?
- Was there an event in the society which triggered her/him to make this piece, an event like a war or a revolution or an upsurge, or a drought?
- Was it only the influence of his social company and not a replica of society’s feelings and emotions?
- Is it, that the art form in itself was created to bring a movement and inspire the people?
- Was the form of art long forgotten or has been recorded with its details by its creator for reference to the people who want to know when the artist is no more to give the insights in person?
- Was the art form created as a result of influence from some other art from of same time or in history?
- What was used to create it and how it was preserved?
- Was it excavated or was it from recent historical times?
The discipline is very wide and there is a wide variety of material and text available on artincontext.org to dive in to study more about it . Sometimes resources look scarce in some cases but the Art Work themselves keep telling stories of times immemorial!