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An introduction to the history of the american artwork

The disappearance of slides in favour of digital images is widely cited as one of the first visible signs of the digital revolution challenging and revolutionising the discipline today.

  1. Inside each room he re-created scenes from the Passion of Christ in freestanding life-size polychrome wooden statues.
  2. Examples of Flemish and German art were readily accessible to the Iberian Peninsula through the cheaply made religious texts and reproductions of important oil paintings.
  3. Another mode of analysis that is proving to be quite promising in digital art history is spatial analysis, which includes mapping projects as well as three-dimensional reconstructions.

Digital tools have indeed led to a reshaping of the entire art history infrastructure, and to a renewal of methods and practice in the manipulation, study, presentation and dissemination of images and texts.

New thinking and fields of activity have emerged, ranging from extensive campaigns to digitise artworks, and primary and secondary textual sources, to the creation of increasingly rich, user-friendly databases, and online publications. Paralleling this is a growing awareness of the importance of taxonomy and the standardisation of data and formats to facilitate the large-scale sharing of digital files. Never before has the international art history community had access to such an extensive pool of resources.

Does digital art history have the potential for foundational change, revolutionising the discipline and its core practices? A handful of researchers are spearheading this activity.

In the space of just a few years, they have become the leading advocates and spokespeople for American digital art history. Their projects fall broadly into four categories these are also the categories comprising the digital humanities in the wider sense: In combination, these two approaches allow the authors to draw conclusions about the art market in nineteenth-century London that would have been impossible without the an introduction to the history of the american artwork of digital technology, given the complex local, international and temporal nature of the subject.

This is one example among many: Leading the way are The Andrew W. All three are actively engaged in the development of digital art history through their support for research, modelling, publishing and teaching, especially summer institutes offered at US institutions in 2014 and 2015. CAA supports art historians and practising artists, and has recently incorporated digital art history into its programme, hosting a dedicated That Camp, since 2013.

In autumn 2014, the CAA created a task force examining the evaluation criteria for digital art history projects, in support of their recognition and validation within the American university system.

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Criticism has been voiced nonetheless, citing current projects and questioning their contribution to the discipline so far, and the real extent of the digital revolution.

What do you consider an inspiring example of digital art history research and scholarship? What are some promising current directions and new trends in digital art history today? Answering this question naturally prompts consideration of what defines digital art history, a topic receiving increasing attention of late. It defines digital scholarship as including: With this expansive definition, several compelling examples come to mind.


We can consider, for example, scholarly editions such as The Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler, which amply demonstrates how digital editions can make searching much easier and faster, as well as Vincent Van Gogh: The Letters, with its side-by-side presentation of facsimile pages, transcriptions, and translations. Paintings and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago. In my own work, I am very interested in how approaches and techniques of network analysis can be adopted for art-historical questions.

While some scholars might observe that we already knew that Pablo Picasso was at the heart of this quest, this network diagram also drew attention to the critical and central role played by women artists such as Sonia Delaunay and Natalia Goncharova.

  • Latin American identity—a reality deeply enmeshed with such cultural and ethnicity issues—was further explored by contemporary artists in South America on the eve of independence;
  • Only a few remains from highland caves survive to show the pre-Columbian tradition;
  • The Hispanic colonists after the conquest made use of several indigenous crafts for their own purposes;
  • Indeed, many who came of age in that decade credit these exhibits for kindling their interest in Native art.

More recently, the Art Institute of Chicago developed an interactive website that allows one to explore the relationships among the artists in the circle of James McNeill Whistler and Theodore Roussel.

Another mode of analysis that is proving to be quite promising in digital art history is spatial analysis, which includes mapping projects as well as three-dimensional reconstructions.

Paul Jaskot, Anne Kelly Knowles, Andrew Wasserman, Stephen Whiteman, and Benjamin Zweig have published an insightful article on the interdependent relationship between digital mapping methods and research questions.

  • The use of computational methods in archaeology, field work, site analysis and recording, and speculative reconstruction is extremely useful since human behaviors and sight lines, for instance, can be tested in these models, as well as the treatments of surfaces, shapes and volumes, decorations, and so on;
  • Never before has the international art history community had access to such an extensive pool of resources.

My choice might seem odd, since it is a research tool, not an artwork or collection, but the Getty Provenance Index demonstrates the value of computational methods for art history.

Because the data in the Index have been culled from a wide variety of sources such as catalogues, inventories, auction data, and so on, the resource benefits from aggregation of its original sources, and thus provides researchers a way to track provenance without having to go to individual libraries or repositories to look through pages of obscure and often inaccessible materials.

While it may seem counter-intuitive to art historians focused on objects, the strongest benefits of digital and networked technologies for art history are in the use of structured text and data. Images have to be so radically remediated when subject to digitization that any analytic work on them is simply being carried out on the files, on surrogates, and not on the objects or their features.

Virtual museum and site preservation work, such as that being done by Sarah Kenderdine, is also promising. She is creating digital documents of cultural heritage sites that are at risk from natural or cultural disasters. The historicity of vision is something we are an introduction to the history of the american artwork to in our own moment, however, and her documents may later look dated to us, as quaint and specific as sepia photographs. Major benefits to art history arise from networked resources and the ability to bring together geographically distributed resources virtually this was an early tenet of digital humanities, and it still holds.

Here's a selection of the best art history books for beginners.

In the phases of digital scholarship, initial activities focused on collections management, automation of record keeping, and structuring data for machine processing.

Then came desktop computers and the production of born-digital works as well as the use of digital platforms as meta-production tools — digital formats absorb other media and allow them to be used. Large-scale digitization projects in museums, libraries, and cultural institutions became a realistic possibility by the 1990s, and network speeds for image delivery and processing have increased exponentially. But the aggregation of structured data and metadata the information about works of art, their attribution, history, material form, iconography, and so on is where humanities fields stand to benefit from digital methods — because the scale of search, processing, analysis, and data mining, as well as access to primary sources, so far exceeds what can be done without these tools.

For instance, what the Getty Provenance Index allows a researcher to do in a several-second search would take years if it had to be done using the original archival materials.

Successful digital art history research must unite the macro-scale description offered by computational analysis of large datasets with micro-scale interpretations of individual artists and artworks. By dynamically visualizing the changing locations of these key institutions, she discerned geographic relationships that influenced business and display practices in the London art world.

A Manifesto for Data Provisioning a. Museums comprise the largest data stores in our field, acting as repositories of objects, but also of decades and centuries of knowledge about those objects. It is these institutions, along with organizations such as the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorisches Documentatie and the Getty Research Institute, that have pioneered vocabularies and ontologies to richly and completely describe the contextual knowledge associated with art objects.

The data these institutions choose to disclose, the methods they use to expose it, and the number of institutions that decide to produce interoperable datasets, will demarcate the types of questions that can be asked. Art historians must engage closely with these infrastructural projects now to help maximize creative research possibilities in the future.

How do artworks as physical objects studied by art history lend themselves to computational techniques and methodologies?

  1. The earliest appearance of the Mestizo style seems to have been in Arequipa, in a valley surrounded by the southern mountains of Peru and situated between strong pre-Columbian centres near Nazca and Lake Titicaca.
  2. Latin Americans themselves still tend to emphasize their national traditions, with a few exceptions. What are the epistemological consequences?
  3. Two such imports were the brothers Auguste-Marie and Nicolas-Antoine Taunay , each of whom had a separate task.

In what ways do they comply or challenge digital tools and methods? What are the epistemological issues and consequences for the discipline? Artworks are both actors in, and indices of, a host of historical trade networks of patronage, gift-giving, commerce, colonization, theft, and other forms of physical movement and exchange.

Objects and their images can also illuminate the shape of artistic networks, documenting the transmission of iconography and stylistic influence.

History of Art

Artworks are thus ideal subjects for inferring patterns and trends in a variety of complex historical networks. In addition, the sheer numbers of extant art objects particularly multiplicative works such as prints and photographs present art historians with problems of scale that quantitative methods promise to address.

But physical objects resist both the structured description and the abstraction these methods rely upon. As with other disciplines, discovering the ideal fit between digital methods and our theoretical frameworks will be a process of negotiation and evolution. The digital makes it possible — as the photograph did earlier in the nineteenth century — for scholars to closely examine works of art for which they do not have ready access.

The digital is perhaps a more seductive surrogate than the photograph, given the level of resolution that can be obtained, but it is a surrogate nonetheless. But we can do powerful investigations with that surrogate as demonstrated by the website Closer to Van Eyck: Rediscovering the Ghent Altarpiece supported by the Getty Foundationbuilt to accompany the examination of the structural condition of this iconic panel painting, which makes available thousands of high-resolution images of this altarpiece.

Building on the increasing engagement with spatial analysis, scholars are also employing digital technologies to reconstruct environments in which works of art were formerly displayed, which will inform our understanding of the relationship between these objects and their larger context. If intended as analytical tools as opposed to video game environmentswhat level of presentation is regarded an introduction to the history of the american artwork acceptable?

How do scholars overcome the standardization effect that can be produced by working computationally? This is also a problem of scale as our interaction with digital surrogates is mediated by our screens, browsers, etc.

Scanning and photographing three-dimensional works turns them into viewable models, and the scale of resolution allows us to see details often hard to perceive with the naked eye. The trade-off is that the experience of actual scale, aura, and presence, as well as the specificities of surface, placement, and viewing circumstances can be missing.

Such -compromises are typical — as the digital environment removes objects from contexts and conditions of viewing or use. Reconstruction techniques using computational methods have also become extremely sophisticated.

The use of computational methods in archaeology, field work, site analysis and recording, and speculative reconstruction is extremely useful since human behaviors and sight lines, for instance, can be tested in these models, as well as the treatments of surfaces, shapes and volumes, decorations, and so on. Likewise, the use of digital platforms for virtual restoration — non-invasive and without consequences for the object — is extremely positive since our understanding of the objects changes over time and restorations tend to bear the imprint of their own moment of execution.

Leaving the artifacts untouched while projecting their possible original form is an improvement. The dialogue between art history and material sciences including bioinformatics, genetics, chemical analysis, and others creates data for analysis of many patterns of human knowledge production and exchange.

These are microscopic data. At the other end of the scale, big data sets, discourse analysis, text analysis, and some primitive image analysis all we have at the moment are useful for looking at the ways taste, styles, and values are elaborated.

At the human-readable scale, the eye is still far more sophisticated than any computational tool, and likely will be for a long time. But use of computational processing in InscriptiFact, part of the West Semitic Research Project, transforms illegible remains of historical artifacts into readable images.

This is a huge an introduction to the history of the american artwork. To be able to read fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls that might otherwise be lost forever is a major achievement, and these techniques extend to many artifacts. What are the epistemological consequences? If the real question is what new research issues have been raised by digital techniques, the answer is still very few or none at all.

But as tools to extend range and reach, digital techniques are essential for pushing traditional research processes into micro and macro scales. What do you think is the impact on the field and discipline of art history of empirical approaches and quantitative tools and information at the heart of digital art history projects? Explicitly quantitative approaches to art history have a long pedigree, going back as early as 1708, when Roger de Piles produced tables quantifying stylistic qualities of old masters for his treatise Cours de peinture par principes.

8 Essential Art History Books for Beginners

Even more common, however, are implicitly quantitative methods. Now we have a chance to engage with that practice more creatively. As we grapple with how to express our knowledge as structured data, we will confront both the strengths and the shortcomings of our current standards for documenting object-based evidence, and also gain new perspectives on old practices.

Social art history may benefit from an introduction to the history of the american artwork analyses of object data such as size, subject, materials, or provenance patterns, with historical social and economic data. Likewise, we may renew attention to connoisseurship and stylistic history as we begin to engage more deeply with computational processing of images themselves. It always depends on specific cases.

If empirical work is done well, it can be useful, but if it is used to make truth claims based on a belief that observer-independent knowledge production is possible, it is simply a pretext for ignoring the complexities of both production and reception histories and circumstances. If we are going to use quantitative methods, then art historians need to be trained in statistics, and know how to set their research problems, assess their results, read the visualizations they create, and be critical in an informed way.

The question is not whether twenty per cent of illuminated manuscripts in a particular region used a specific pigment for their yellows, but what else we can learn from this fact.

The enthusiasm for image analysis, or for cultural analytics, for instance, seems misguided unless it can be demonstrated that the potential insight gained from such techniques makes the investment of cost, intellectual energy, and resources worthwhile. Links between art history and work in material sciences, and also the kind of quantitative work developed by the once-renowned Annales school in history and bibliography, may also provide fruitful directions ahead.

The Closer to Van Eyck: Rediscovering the Ghent Altarpiece is an excellent example through which to answer this question. Digital art history, which often involves quantitative tools and information but can be distinguished from a purely empirical approach, often forces scholars to re-examine, or examine more closely, their original source materials.