Visual culture and the history of art
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Visual culture and the history of art book
This chapter explores some of the implications and consequences of the rise to institutional power of ideas of the cultural. It is concerned with the parallel rise of 'visual culture' and the implications of the powerful challenge it presents to art history as a discipline and to attention to the objects which have been art history's principal concern. When focus of interest is on nature of visual as social practice it makes no logical sense to privilege one small class of objects over all others as objects of interpretative attention. Attention to the aspects of a work which 'criticism' implies – to expression, content and form – is only partly a characteristic of 'history' which contents itself with delineating connections between work and social context. The fundamental difference of generalizing and abstracting systems of language from the particularizing and specific capacities of painting and the graphic arts presents any analyst who is obliged to rely on language with a central challenge.