Introductory Art History

979 Words2 Pages

Art history, similar to many other subjects, requires an introductory textbook. Its function should be to expose the new student to the foundations of art, such as the elements, principles, and historical contexts. Past introductory art history books, however, have severely limited the student’s knowledge and comprehension of what constitutes as art by focusing solely on European works. In doing so, the texts only depict one type of aesthetic standards and the new student may become disinterested with art in general because he or she does not agree with that particular standard. That person might also feel alienated with the lack of women and minority artists included alongside the traditional European male artist. Thus, introductory textbooks …show more content…

This fact may provide an explanation as to why a majority of past introductory art history texts tend to be focused on European art. By beginning with the west, authors choose to slowly ease new students into art history. It would, therefore, be an easy task of analyzing and understanding European history through the different lens of art since they are already very familiar with it more than other areas of the world. Yet, such an approach creates an isolated picture of art and reinforces the overall concept that western societies are the center of the world. While art history is supposed to encompass all kinds of artwork, this narrow perspective can only depict half of the pieces of art on earth. As a result, it is necessary that introductory textbooks to art history include countries outside the western sphere. This not only expose the students to more artwork, but it will enable them to have a deeper appreciation of each piece. This allows students to have a better understanding of how a country’s aesthetics might influence another country’s …show more content…

An introductory book’s decision to focus on European art can hinder new students’ further studies of art in many ways. For instance, most western countries share similar aesthetics values with each other. The text indirectly conveys that these aesthetics standards are superior to others through the fact that multiple countries follow them. In addition, it teaches that there is one correct aesthetic principle by refusing to have the students learn the other types. Both of these elements condition the new students to be narrow-minded. Such a lack of tolerance can make learning new art forms, whether they are from nonwestern countries or the newest art movement, difficult. The inclusion of other countries in the introductory art history textbook, however, can minimize this effect. Due to their nature, aesthetics are very subjective. What is defined as aesthetically pleasing in one country differs entirely in another country. Being introduced to some different aesthetic values before he or she forms any strong opinion of which one is more preferable to him or her, the new student can see from an outside perspective why a county might find a particular aesthetic aspect admirable. Another example in how a concentration on European art in the introductory book can negatively influence new students’ future learning in this field is to cause them to feel alienated. They might not agree with the western aesthetics or with the fact that only

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