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Lets talk about Art

This question pops up often, and with many answers. Many argue that art cannot be defined. We could go about this in several ways. Art is often considered the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations and ways of expression, including music, literature, film, sculpture and paintings. The meaning of art is explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics.

I created Writing About Art as the text for a course of the same name at The City College of New York. The book explains the different approaches college students encounter in undergraduate art history classes. Each chapter outlines the characteristics of one type of visual or historical analysis, and briefly explains its history and development. Passages by well-known art historians provide examples of each method. Four appendices outline the steps in researching art historical topics, writing essays about them, and citing sources properly. Appendices III and IV include sample student papers, accompanied by my comments and suggested changes.

I have not included illustrations, in the hope that more attention will be given to the passages quoted. Glancing at a picture and then skimming text about it is not the same as trying to create a mental image from words alone. The absence of illustrations also makes it easier for each reader to decide which words are especially effective in communicating information about visual things.  However, complete identification of the images discussed is given so that the reader can find them easily on the Web. Many of them will be familiar from art history surveys.

Writing About Art

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