From Abacus to Zeus: A Handbook of Art History

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9780131830516: From Abacus to Zeus: A Handbook of Art History

Designed as a comprehensive supplement to Janson's History of Art, Sixth Edition, Hartt's Art, Fourth Edition, Gardner's Art Through the Ages, Eleventh Edition, and Stokstad's Art History (Revised) — but also appropriate as a stand-alone brief reference volume — this handbook defines the most common terms used in discussing the history of visual arts, relating them to specific works illustrated in these standard volumes. Topics covered include art terms, processes, and principles, gods, heroes, and monsters, Christian subjects, saints and their attributes, Christian signs and symbols, chronology of painters, photographers, sculptors, and architects, as well as maps, and a directory of museum websites. For art and art history enthusiasts.

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Designed as a comprehensive supplement to Janson's History of Art, Fifth Edition, Hartt's Art, Fourth Edition, and Gardner's Art Through the Ages, Ninth Edition -- but also appropriate as a stand-alone brief reference text -- this handbook defines the most common terms used in discussing the history of visual arts.

From the Inside Flap:

Preface

ART must ultimately be explained in terms of art, not art terms. The description of visual form, the definition of stylistic categories, and the decoding of ancient myth and symbol, while fascinating pursuits in their own right, are of greatest value when they are mastered with the aim of comprehending the unique expressive power of individual works of art. This handbook has been prepared with that end in mind. Terminology and iconography have been defined with reference to specific works of art. This is done by keying entries to the splendid collection of over 1,200 reproductions in the sixth edition of H.W and A.F Janson's popular and accessible History of Art. Thus, terms, processes, principles, subjects, and symbols are not only defined verbally but can be studied as they appear in particular contexts and in historical sequence.

For those who may have Marilyn Stokstad's Art History (revised edition), the fourth edition of Frederick Hartt's Art or the eleventh edition of Fred S. Kleiner and Christin J. Mamiya, Gardner's Art through the Ages, a list of identical or similar illustrations in these art history surveys, paralleling those in the sixth edition of Janson's History o f Art, is provided at the very back of this book. By consulting this table of parallel illustrations, most of the Janson figure numbers referred to in the entries in this book can also be located in current editions of Stokstad, Hartt and Gardner.

The numbers in italics found in the various entries (e.g. 19-25) refer to figure numbers in the sixth edition of Janson's History o f Art; numbers preceded by "fig." refer to the illustrations in this book. Words in italics are cross-references to other entries. If a term is printed in italics, a definition of it will be found in alphabetical order in Chapter One; mythological beings will be found in Chapter Two; the subjects of Christian art, arranged by category, will be found in Chapter Three; saints, in Chapter Four; and Christian signs and symbols, in Chapter Five.

Following Chapter Five is a chronological list of leading painters, photographers, sculptors, and architects from the fourteenth century to the present. Entries indicate birth and death dates, nationality, customary media employed and places where the artist is known to have worked. An especially useful feature of this list is the simplified phonetic indication of the common pronunciation of the artist's name. Following the Chronology are maps locating art centers commonly mentioned in surveys of art history. Keys to the vast storehouse of digital imagery now available on the internet have been provided in the Directory of Museum Websites preceding the Index. The comprehensive Index not only alphabetically lists all entries from the five chapters but also includes the hundreds of terms defined within the major entries.

Simplified phonetic pronunciations are provided for unfamiliar names and terms, but they are only approximations of polite usage, introduced to prevent only the most ear-shattering barbarisms. In many cases, other pronunciations are equally acceptable. When a word has been taken over directly from a foreign language, it may usually be given the proper foreign pronunciation without raising too many eyebrows. Thus, "tablinum" (tably'num) may even more "correctly" be pronounced ta-blee'num. In Chapter Four, the English names of saints are followed by their customary Italian, French, Spanish, and German names when the foreign form is markedly different from the English. An explanation of symbols, indicating French and German sounds not used in English, will be found preceding the chronological list of artists.

I am particularly indebted to Paulette Perone, who helped prepare the original list of entries; Arthur Irwin, who made many of the original architectural drawings; Catherine Hartkopf, who typed the original manuscript; the late H.W: Janson, who kindly consented to read the original manuscript and gave me the benefit of his wise counsel; and all those students at Case-Western Reserve University, the University of Kentucky, Dartmouth College, and Colby College, who, over the years, insisted that I define my terms.

J.S.P.

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