Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 1 to 13 of 29

Thread: My ignorance of art history makes me feel inadequate

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    468
    Thanks
    250
    Thanked 759 Times in 157 Posts

    My ignorance of art history makes me feel inadequate

    I hear my teacher and some other people toss around names of various painters, or when looking at drawings they know who did them. "Oh, that's (French/European/Scholarly sounding name) from X century", another dead guy whose name I don't know.

    I also can't grasp the names of art movements and styles, to me there are more movements than there are metal genres, and I see them all like this:
    - Post-neodeathliteralexpressioncube(ism)
    To me a picture is just a picture, In my mind I only make distinctions in what I see realistic/non-realistic representational/non-representational, abstract, colors.

    I just feel like an idiot in the face of this, I can probably recognize some paintings and drawings, but I can't pinpoint the guy who made them, his birthplace, eye color, dog's favorite food.
    I have a personal view that I don't care about people who died long before I was born, history is after all just a story. Sure there's evidence for major wars and events, and I don't deny that, but I don't like having a dead guy in the spot light. I can remember only so many names before they begin to fade.

    I can't force myself to like art history, but I don't see any of the artists as important figures. Their work has relevance, but their names and personal lives don't. Take Einstein for example, his life means nothing to me, I only see his theories as important, they just have his name attached to them. As long as the theories have evidence and there's truth in them, it doesn't matter who came up to them, only the theories do. How do people technologically progress? by learning and building onto the ideas of those before them. Do today's engineers and architects bow down to the ancient Greek/Mayan/Roman architects? Are their names important? I'd say only their methods in accomplishing what they did are, the person behind it is not.

    All this was just a way to rationalize my ignorance. I'm kind of set in my ways, I just can't bring myself to memorize the name of every movement and artist, I say the work and techniques to produce said work are important, not those behind it.
    Last edited by hippl5; April 16th, 2010 at 03:01 PM.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote


  2. Hide this ad by registering as a member
  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    544
    Thanks
    330
    Thanked 84 Times in 56 Posts
    I disagree.

    And since you yourself is calling it ignorance, I say you should study more.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Hudson River valley, NY
    Posts
    16,211
    Thanks
    4,879
    Thanked 16,685 Times in 5,022 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by hippl5 View Post
    All this was just a way to rationalize my ignorance.
    Indeed it is. Ignorance is excusable, willful ignorance never is. At least you have the sense to feel inadequate. Art history is history, and a historical framework is one of the most useful tools for learning any subject. Otherwise, as your experience shows, names, date, etc are just isolated pieces of information with no context. Cutting yourself off from the history of ideas via some half-assed philosophical justification is self-defeating. The more you know, the easier it is to know more.

    Tristan Elwell
    **Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial

    "Work is more fun than fun."
    -John Cale

    "Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
    -Marc Maron
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  5. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Elwell For This Useful Post:


  6. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    So-Cal
    Posts
    3,426
    Thanks
    2,994
    Thanked 1,779 Times in 850 Posts
    I have a hard time remembering names too, but if you take no interest in your own heritage your holding yourself back. Don't forget history repeats its self. There are allot of important relevant lessons in art history. Such as censorship in it's many forms and the effects it has on art. Not just that but the effects of ignorance on our side. See what happens when artist truly lives in a vacuum of creativity. You can learn what was borrowed, what was stolen and what was created out of thin air. You need to learn how some people got filthy rich and some died penniless. On top of all that your missing out on some key inspiration. If you look up top you'll find work with elements from oddballs throughout art history and many many "izms" wrapped into one.
    OPEN YOUR MIND
    My ignorance of art history makes me feel inadequate
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  7. The Following User Says Thank You to Raoul Duke For This Useful Post:


  8. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    New York, USA
    Posts
    2,337
    Thanks
    1,074
    Thanked 2,200 Times in 1,055 Posts
    Understanding the history of art is just as important as understanding the history of the rest of the world, and in both cases people DO matter. Understanding the social context of history helps you understand how and why various events and ideas came into being.

    Ideas come from people. People are influenced by the people around them and the culture of their place and time. Understanding the people and times that produced certain ideas helps you understand those ideas better, and more importantly, helps you evaluate ideas intelligently so that you can use them or ignore them in an informed way.

    Maybe you just need to find better sources of art history. Memorizing names and dates is boring and doesn't teach much, what you really want to look at is the interaction of artists with their times, with other artists, with those who came before and after them, etc.

    Pssst, top secret, I can never ever ever remember dates at all. But I DO know who did what, and why, and who influenced who, and who rebelled against who, and why they rebelled, and so forth, and so on... To me that's the important stuff. I do try to remember names, because then I know what to look for when shopping for art books and scoping out exhibits.
    Last edited by QueenGwenevere; April 16th, 2010 at 03:19 PM.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  9. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to QueenGwenevere For This Useful Post:


  10. #6
    Ilaekae's Avatar
    Ilaekae is offline P.O.W.! Leader, Complete Idiot, Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Southwestern Pennsylvania
    Posts
    7,140
    Thanks
    8,241
    Thanked 5,595 Times in 1,789 Posts
    "I have a personal view that I don't care about people who died long before I was born, history is after all just a story."

    This is a big part of your problem. Allow me to point out that the history of ANYTHING is like a rabid Doberman twice your size--ignore it, and your ass (and other body parts) will end up in a heap of dog shit
    No position or belief, whether religious, political or social, is valid if one has to lie to support it.--Alj Mary

    Ironically, the concept of SIMPLICITY is most often misunderstood by simple-minded people. --Alj Mary
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  11. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to Ilaekae For This Useful Post:


  12. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Wales, Britain's mini-Middle Earth
    Posts
    717
    Thanks
    413
    Thanked 444 Times in 199 Posts
    At the end of the day it isn't how many movements you know, or how many artists that's important it's how you are able to disect what an individual piece of work means (the circumstances surrounding it, it's artist's intentions) and whether you feel it'll be relevant to you. The history will come with time, just visit galleries that you come across, note down the individuals that interest you and who you feel may be helpful to your growth.

    (Without knowing the content of what you're refering to, all you will have is timelines and lists so take one step at a time)
    My sketchbook, if you really want to see it...

    "Picasso is a painter, so am I;... Picasso is Spanish, so am I; Picasso is a communist, neither am I." - Salvador Dali
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  13. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    5,234
    Thanks
    3,512
    Thanked 4,906 Times in 2,547 Posts
    Yeah, for me the more I understand and learn about artists or musicians, the way they work, their motivations and influences, etc. the more insight I gain into my own work and the larger fabric of art, science, engineering, music, etc. throughout history. This tends to lead to more interesting conversations with my peers and enhances my ability to share with my students.

    I was very fortunate in my first art history courses to have a teacher that brought the artists to life for me (or maybe it was just where I was at in my own life). Ever since those early days I've tried to learn more and study on my own, personally I find it fascinating, though I'm very bad with names, dates and countries too.

    Everyone is different though - just thought I'd share. Wish I had some words of wisdom or some recommendations for books that might get you fired up but you just gotta do that on your own if it interests you.
    What would Caravaggio do?
    _________________________

    Portfolio
    Plein Air
    Digital
    Still Life
    Sight Measuring
    Fundamentals
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  14. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Birth Place of the World, NYC
    Posts
    2,841
    Thanks
    2,659
    Thanked 1,051 Times in 687 Posts
    "You'll never know where you're going, unless you know where you came from."
    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  15. The Following User Says Thank You to OmenSpirits For This Useful Post:


  16. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    3,432
    Thanks
    643
    Thanked 1,484 Times in 719 Posts
    Cut and paste from an old post..

    You probably don't need exact titles and dates in a non-exam scenario.

    Look at lots of work (and I mean lots).

    The art history tests in my old college were point based so even if you couldn't identify "Ophelia, 1852, Millais" you'd get points for "Chick in a pond, !800s? Looks British, maybe the Pre-Raph mob, 'Rossetti and pals?"
    It's this mental catalogue of visual info that lets you guess where work is from, which school it belongs to etc. Train your visual perceptions to be able to look at stuff and say "Ooh, looks a bit like Raphael, probably from..." or "it's a flamboyant Sargent style portrait but not one I know, it's maybe Boldini or Zorn" "It's a typical Pre-Raph subject but more naturalistic and painterly, maybe a Waterhouse..?"

    How? The only advice I have is to look at loads of pictures. (Good news, that's fun. You can sit around with a six pack and a stack of library books and learn this stuff ) You need to abandon the idea of memorising individual pieces and pick up the visual and stylistic cues that tell you where and when that's likely from. Look at enough images and eventually a little voice appears whispering "Oooh, looks a bit like a..whatever"

    It's a daunting subject (probably nobody on Earth knows all of it..) but start in chunks.

    1- Course essentials
    2- Your interests
    3- Anything and everything.

    The main thing is that you need to read a lot and look at a lot of images.

    Good luck.

    /2p worth

    Honestly, the more art history you learn the more obvious the connections and influences become, it's worth learning unless you really want to reinvent the wheel.

    A decent knowledge of art history will also enable you to improve your own work while casually tossing aside those essays they will make you write..

    Edit: I was asssuming you were in art school there, my bad.
    Last edited by Flake; April 16th, 2010 at 08:35 PM.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  17. The Following User Says Thank You to Flake For This Useful Post:


  18. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Manhattan, NY
    Posts
    737
    Thanks
    347
    Thanked 288 Times in 256 Posts
    You don't have to take a class or memorize names to learn anything about art history. I love looking at art from painters from all art periods... doing that and reading biographies of artists' lives (I read Sargent's bio, was extremely interesting!) will teach you so much and open your eyes to a world of knowledge. Shutting off history because it's filled with dead people is naive, most of the people that I respect the most have long been dead.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  19. #12
    Ilaekae's Avatar
    Ilaekae is offline P.O.W.! Leader, Complete Idiot, Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Southwestern Pennsylvania
    Posts
    7,140
    Thanks
    8,241
    Thanked 5,595 Times in 1,789 Posts
    "...most of the people that I respect the most have long been dead."

    Me...for example...












    No position or belief, whether religious, political or social, is valid if one has to lie to support it.--Alj Mary

    Ironically, the concept of SIMPLICITY is most often misunderstood by simple-minded people. --Alj Mary
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

  20. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Slovakia
    Posts
    4,191
    Thanks
    5,140
    Thanked 2,053 Times in 1,109 Posts
    Ilaekae, don't feel down, man! You're still alive and kicking!

    "history is after all just a story."

    Stories are great, and the history of people on Earth is an incredible story! Look at it that way. Just as the story of Einstein's life is incredible, if you were willing to read up on it.
    Reply With Quote Reply With Quote

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 36
    Last Post: March 12th, 2010, 11:48 AM
  2. Replies: 3
    Last Post: November 28th, 2009, 03:29 AM
  3. SketchBook: This body makes me feel eternal. All this pain is an illusion.
    By Frank the Ninja in forum Sketchbooks
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: April 2nd, 2005, 04:37 AM
  4. my ignorance baffles me...
    By Dakardaur in forum ART SCHOOLS & ART EDUCATION
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: August 15th, 2004, 01:56 PM
  5. Art: This is how homework makes me feel
    By Voltmeter in forum FINISHED ART & ARTWORK
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: February 28th, 2004, 03:29 AM

Members who have read this thread: 0

There are no members to list at the moment.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
  • 424,149 Artists
  • 3,599,276 Artist Posts
  • 32,941 Sketchbooks
  • 54 New Art Jobs
Art Workshop Discount Inside

Developed Actively by vBSocial.com
SpringOfSea's Sketchbook