Art Throughout History Essay

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Introduction Any discussion of the role of texts and art works in changing the status of art and artists, wherever the location, has no option but to place art in an historical, sociopolitical and cultural context. Art cannot be taken as an entity in and of itself, or be placed outside of the above frameworks. The scope of this discussion cannot feasibly include a thorough history of European art from the decline of the Roman Empire to the rise of the artist in Renaissance Italy and beyond the Alps. It will, however, attempt to condense certain points which will allow some historical context to lead it into an understanding of the roles of texts and works of art in changing the status of art and the artist. Many questions arise, not least the notion of some form of cultural caesura, the long period of the Mediaeval which effectively culminated in the decimating spread of pandemic plagues throughout Europe in the 14th Century, when looking at texts and works of art from across the ages in Western Europe up to the institution of the Renaissance in Italy and beyond to Transalpine Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. This discussion will limit itself to certain artists and historiographers of Italy and Germany due principally to the limits of the word count for this discussion. It must also be noted at the outset that texts, while essential in promoting the artist (both in terms of auto and biography) were both inaccessible and unreadable by the overwhelming majority of humanity during this Humanist period in terms of the history of art even after the invention of the printing press (outside of what is now China) by the German polymath Johannes Gutenberg in the 1440`s. Indeed it must also be conjectured as to the distribution o...

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...angelo and Raphael, under the auspices of papal patronage, were being absorbed as both cultural heritage & Florentine history. Vasari`s desire not only to construct that history but also to place Florence at its centre motivated both the content of his book. While modern art historians concede that it is structured to place Michelangelo & his art at the very zenith of all artistic creation, above even the revered ancients, few have seen past the more insidious aspects of his project. This is true, no doubt, because the structural aspects of Vasari`s book… continue to dominate the way art history is written today.”6 Over 450 years after Vasari, this expresses the notion that text is powerful in the extreme in the elevation of the artist to genius. The effects of Vasari`s text echoes deafeningly in the annals of the history of art, and will doubtless continue to do so.

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