In this authoritative book, the first of its kind in English, Christopher S. Wood tracks the evolution of the historical study of art from the late middle ages through the rise of the modern scholarly discipline of art history. Synthesizing and assessing a vast array of writings, episodes, and personalities, this original and accessible account of the development of art-historical thinking will appeal to readers both inside and outside the discipline. Combining erudition with clarity, this book makes a landmark contribution to the understanding of art history.
Awards and Recognition
- Shortlisted for the Apollo Awards Book of the Year, Apollo Magazine
Christopher S. Wood is a professor at New York University. His books include Albrecht Altdorfer and the Origins of Landscape and Forgery, Replica, Fiction: Temporalities of German Renaissance Art.
"In a complex and overall highly original and learned set of narratives unfolding chronologically (1400–1960), Wood weaves together a series of subplots: relativism versus presentism, form versus content, chronologies of forms versus shapes of time, idealism versus realism, and the de- and re-enchantment of art. . . . As Wood’s rewriting of the discipline’s history according to the categories of relativism and presentism indicate, he is laying out a philosophy of history. Drawing on Friedrich Nietzsche, Hayden White, and Michel Foucault’s categories of history writing, he also traces a history of art history’s historical models, starting with the annalistic, or 'roll-call art history'. . . . A robust discussion of the substantive issues he raises is both merited and called for."—Evonne Levy, Art Bulletin
“Wood’s ambitious survey whisks us through centuries of multivalent theorizing and advocating by artists, poets, connoisseurs, philosophers, and, eventually, people calling themselves ‘art historians.’ ”—Susan Tallman, New York Review of Books
“A brilliant overview. . . . The amount of carefully considered information packed into this compact volume is breathtaking. . . . A much-needed contribution at a time when the discipline badly needs an appreciative, even-handed view of the past.”—Debra Pincus, Choice
“Owing to its extraordinary range and original insights, it is destined to become the standard work for many years to come.”—Sam Rose, Apollo Magazine
“A tour de force. I can’t think of another book that even comes close to this one in the way it encourages art historians to understand their own disciplinary history.”—Michael Ann Holly, author of The Melancholy Art