Traditional AH

- gives us a handle to judge what is in the canon (masterpieces, genius, value)
- helps us grasp a body of ideas (art history)
- auras and essences of artworks
- transcendental, timeless, truth

The canon
- superstructure that relies on discourse and hierarchy

- Foucault defined as “A language that functions to control the order of things via a collective. It is a will to truth creating the effect of transparency”
- Relies on repetition (what is important is repeated), rarefication (forming of a discrete community), selection, exclusivity (not everyone can be included), coherence (through rule of the author certain claims gain coherence (determines who we’ll study - the name Shakespeare connotes value because of the author function)

Artist as genius
- a visionary – gives him authority

- art critic
- supposes you’ll never understand the art work without a Berger, the critic is in charge of what’s important – Bryson ‘Vision and Painting’ (reveals the story of art is a fiction)

- assumes they are present in culture and art works

Innocent eye
- Titian’s ‘The Venus of..’ we are asked to overlook fact we are looking at a naked woman, children will see the nakedness, but passed off in art world as the ‘nude’
- asked to suspend disbelief

Reflection theory
- believe what others pronounce to be important, because they have more authority, retinal sensation, and knowledge
- promotes a passive viewer

- craft objects are pumped out in masses
- a singular art piece has special status
- like Antiques Road Show and connoisseurship

- traditional art history vs. new critical art history

The object is a thing through which meanings and intentions of the artist pass

Traditional AH assumptions:
- knowledge is linear
- developmental progression
- differential articulations over time, space, biography – establishing a common space of beliefs is the formation of myth
- willingness to accept myths of culture as part of the natural order (Bryan Wolf)
- situates the past relevant to the present so it sees style as evolving from an earlier one
- locates works within a set time so it defines them as belonging to the ‘spirit of the times’ and creates a chronological order
- looks at a painting as if it’s an extension of our own world (Alberti) and not a cultural construct > I think I just understood the gaze! The gaze is linked with this idea of paintings as extensions of 3-dimensional reality – Ah Ha! Gazing into 3D space, a ‘window’. Then summons the innocent eye to suspend the disbelief and walk into illusory space.

What we consider is dependent on what we see as culturally important and what will be legitimized by those around us (what people perceive to be meaningful and relative)

Formalist theory – Greenberg… art in vacuum

Texts as historical objects – belong to time and place in history


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