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A Historical approach would hold that it is desirable and possible to see the artwork from the point of view of the person who made it and the people in the particular time and place to whom it was directed; this view holds that we must therefore reconstruct the historical, political, social, religious, psychological and technological context of the artwork as completely as possible in order to understand what the art "meant".

For example, we can state with fair assurance that Michelangelo's David probably represented "the defiant will of the city of Florence against its powerful adversaries," and we can infer that it stood for some kind of ideal human beauty to Michelangelo himself, but we can never really "know" this.

Art history aims to understand art through historical knowledge and history through artistic evidence, but there is a point at which any supposed "true" or exact "meaning" of any artwork must elude us.

The critic aims to clarify and judge recent artworks for the modern public, because, unlike some other kinds of history which use "persisting events" to understand the past, art history uses artworks, which are presumed to have quality--that is, they are either good or bad art.

, the title, the probable date of the work, its location now, its condition, and provenance (or source--where it came from).

Last modified 29-Dec-2014 21:25