This volume presents eighty-nine influential texts that have played a significant role in shaping modern judgments and values about art.
Emphasizing the debates and ideological assumptions around the Western canon of art, the book ranges through art history from Pliny the Elder to current issues of gender, post-colonialism, and museum policy. A general introduction to the book provides a survey of recent debates on the canon of Western art.
The source texts and critical writings of the volume are then organized around six art history topics: academies, museums, and canons of art; the changing status of the artist; gender and art; the challenge of the avant-garde; views of difference; and contemporary cultures of display.
The source texts, each prefaced by a short introduction with information about the author and guidelines for reading the text, include seminal writings by Vasari, Le Brun, and Baudelaire, among many others, as well as examples of different kinds of literature on art, a contract, a biography, an academic discourse. And the critical writings for each section of the book offer a variety of perspectives on art and revisions of art history. This volume accompanies the undergraduate course "Art and its Histories" offered by the Open University.