“Everything” you need to know about art history

Bargain Art History

Last weekend I was in a bookstore (it’s a pretty rare occurrence in these strange times…). I was excited to find a book with the enticing title of “Art History: Everything you need to know to master the subject–in one book!”

Of course, the first thing I did was open it up and look at the table of contents.

What do you notice?

And then I took pictures and sent them to Shae so someone else could share in my outrage.

I did not look through and see what the ratio of men to women was. Based on the fact that the table of contents was entirely centered on Europe, I am going to guess the ratio was not great.

“ALL” I need to know about art history and you only write about Europe??? No thank you.

Maybe that’s why it was on the discount shelves.

Actual Art History

I finished the section on the Ancient Near East and moved on to Ancient Egyptian art. One of my favorite authors and book series is Elizabeth Peters and her Amelia Peabody book series. Peters was actually an Egyptologist (her real name was Barbara Mertz) and Amelia and her family were Egyptologists in the late 1800s/early 1900s.

Having read those novels several times, I fancy that I have a tiny bit of Egyptology knolwedge under my belt. Also, watching all those seasons of Stargate seems like it qualifies me to pretend to know something.

(I’m kidding)

I think the most interesting thing I learned was that over the 3000 years that Ancient Egyptian civilization lasted, there was a ton of continuity in the imagery they produced. Here in modern times, our attention span is about 5 minutes. But there are images of kings with similar poses and royal costumes that are 3000 years apart that are very similar.

Egyptians believed in part that this continuity proved that their culture and beliefs were correct. And that the images they created had a power and meaning beyond the image itself. The imagery governed the afterlife and heaven forbid if the king was shown in an image with the wrong tool! His afterlife would be ruined!

What’s Next

I still have to finish Ancient Egypt and then I’ve got Ancient Greece and Rome to look forward to. And I’m not saying that sarcastically! I’m truly enjoying this trip through ancient art and the way that it is presented by Khan Academy is just right for me. The videos and readings are just long enough to get some good information in, and just short enough that I can watch or read one or two here or there.

Which is perfect, since I’m also trying to do a million other projects at the same time!

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