Food for Thought! Art History is Important, too…Even if We Don’t Always Remember

I got two words for you: Art…History.


I can almost sense your eyes glossing over through the computer screen. Fight the fatigue! The fact that we sometimes leave art history in the background is something I’ve been thinking about since I was first asked to join Hand/Eye, and I think it’s important to set aside some time and blog space to bring it to the foreground. Nice artistic terms, huh? But first, take a moment or two and scroll back through the articles we have here on Hand/Eye…Done? Okay, how many articles have you seen talking about future possibilities of art? A few. How many for current happenings in and around campus? A lot! Now, how many did you see talking about our history? Not very many. Let me provide a short feature to get the gears in your brain whirling!

Sometimes we forget that art history is a highly important aspect of artwork. It reminds us to think.It’s just as important as finding who you are so you can move forward – you have to know where you’ve come from so you can build from there. Art history encompasses all media, social, and cultural understandings. From Kathryn Shields’, our very own Art Department chair, Modern Art syllabus:

This course emphasizes recognition of major examples of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, etc., and comprehension of the relevant social and historical contexts.  These elements will be considered individually and together as appropriate in order to better understand the developments in artistic production during the modern period.

Art history is what connects the art we make to what our mentors have created.  It’s important to understand their motives so we can see how we arrived at our current artistic state in time.  If you don’t study Monet, you can’t understand him. I know, you’re all probably thinking, “Duh,” right about now, but seriously think about it: What if Monet had been a chef and had never even picked up a paint brush? Would Impressionism have left as big an impression?

Bad puns aside, the fact is you’re most likely going to need art history if you plan on pursuing art in any fashion. Teachers, curators, collectors, studio artists, et cetera – Art history is vital to success. Not only will you need it, once you’ve been exposed, you’ll probably crave it too. We’re history in the making – whatever you do today will be history tomorrow, next week, next year, and so on. So go ahead, utilize the Guilford art community’s resources as a starting point to satisfy your cravings. Take an art history course, even if it isn’t required for you. As a shameless plug for my own class, I will suggest Modern Art to you – it’s been highly enjoyable so far, and it’s only the fourth week.  And before you go yawning and nodding off in class, think twice – You’re going to want to make a good impression for the art history books!

Let’s throw in a humorous picture, shall we?!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s