Digital Methods and the Historiography of Art

Authored by: Paul B. Jaskot

The Routledge Companion to Digital Humanities and Art History

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138585584
eBook ISBN: 9780429505188
Adobe ISBN:


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Art history is almost by definition a field that rests on “big data.” Traditional methods of training as well as interpretation—such as iconographic analysis—have required scholars to accumulate vast amounts of knowledge about visual tropes, for example. We are long familiar with thinking typologically as well as encyclopedically about forms, functions, and artists. In a word, art history has been digital art history seemingly without knowing it for some time. Yet still, digital methodologies clearly bring new challenges to the field. This chapter introduces the reader to the relationship between digital methods and art historiography. It will locate debates in the digital humanities within the debates of art history itself, to see how the one field illuminates the areas of study in the other. It will raise such questions as what is the relationship between digital methods and canonical art historiographic subjects of study? How are digital methods a critical new intervention in the theory and practice of art history? Which art-historical methodological approaches are best suited to digital epistemologies? And what is different (if anything) between digital art history and its predecessors? By focusing on these issues, I will argue for a need to concern ourselves with a more critical digital art-historical practice that is integrated with (and interrogates) long-standing art-historical subjects and interests.

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