The Art Historians utilize several methods while researching the history of objects and studying the nature of the being of the art, it’s creation, existence and authenticity. They mostly examine any work of art in the perspective of the time when it was created. This is done in the best way, keeping in mind the respect of the creator’s inspiration and constraints; along with contemplation of requests and predispositions of its patrons. A comparative study of the themes and tactics of the creator’s teacher is also done considering the symbolism and iconography of the art. In short, it can be said that, the world in which the art was created is deeply examined by the Art Historians.

Art History includes the examining of the work through the study of the form, which is, the use of shape, line, texture, composition and color by the artist. This helps identifying if the creator has used a two dimensional or three dimensional picture plane of the architectural or cultural space to create the art. The manner in which these elements are used, resulting in different kinds of art known as imitative or abstract art. When the artist creating an art, in the imitation of another image or object, then the piece of work is called representational or imitative art. The art is known to be more realistic when the creator is able to create a perfect imitation. When the artist is not trying to make an imitation of an image or object, instead relies on symbolism to capture the essence of nature, rather than directly copying it as it is, it is called non-representational or abstract art.

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Abstraction and Realism subsists on a continuum. For example impressionism is a representational form of art, but it is not directly imitative, but an attempt to create an impression of nature. If the work of art is not representational, instead, is an expression of the creator’s aspiration and feelings, or simply a quest for ideal beauty and form, it is known as non-representational work or an art of expressionism.

An analysis of iconography is one in which the focus is kept on the particular design of the element. With a close examination of such elements, the Art Historians are able to trace their descent and come to a conclusion of the origin and root of the themes of a particular art. It is possible to make many observations in regards to the cultural, social, aesthetic and economic value which were responsible for the creation of the art.

Art Historians use the critical theory as a base to structure their investigation of the works. Theory is mostly used when the historians are dealing with more recent objects, like those from the late 19th century and onwards. If we talk about how the critical theory get its matter, well, it can be said that it is often the work of the literary scholars that they borrow to form the analytical base of the study of the art work. The subject of critical theory is responsible in establishing theories such as Marxist, Feminist, Postcolonial and Critical race. As in the study of literature, you will notice that the scholars take keen interest in the environment and nature, but what turn it will take on the critical study is yet to be determined.

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Would you like to read more about this topic? This book might interest you: Art History.