Art History: A Very Short Introduction

Dana Arnold
Very Short Introductions
  • The ideal introduction to Art History for those new to the subject
  • Provides the basic tools necessary for the study of art history
  • Has a wide chronological and thematic coverage
  • Clear, concise discussion of the complex debates and issues
  • Includes timeline showing the development of specific schools/styles/key artists and exhibitions mapped against important world thinkers/events, eg. Reformation, Enlightenment, French Revolution, Marx, Theory of Relativity, World War II
  • Arnold is Editor of the Art Historians Association's journal Art History

This clear and concise new introduction examines all the major debates and issues using a wide range of well-known examples. It discusses the challenge of using verbal and written language to analyse a visual form. Dana Arnold also examines the many different ways of writing about art, and the changing boundaries of the subject of art history. Topics covered include the canon of Art History, the role of the gallery, 'blockbuster' exhibitions, the emergence of social histories of art (Feminist Art History or Queer Art History, for example), the impact of photography, and the development of Art History using artefacts such as the altarpiece, the portrait, or pornography, to explore social and cultural issues such as consumption, taste, religion, and politics. 

Importantly, this book explains how the traditional emphasis on periods and styles originates in western art production and can obscure other critical approaches, as well as art from non western cultures. 


1: What is Art History?
2: Writing Art History
3: Presenting Art History
4: Thinking about Art History
5: Reading Pictures
Further Reading


Dana Arnold is Professor of Architectural History, University of Southampton and Director of the Centre for Studies in Architecture and Urbanism. Her recent publications include Re-presenting the Metropolis: Architecture, urban experience and social life in London (2000); The Georgian Country House: Architecture, landscape and Society (1998) and the edited volumes The Metropolis and its Image Constructing Identities for London c 1750-1950 (1999) and The Georgian Villa (1996, 1998 paperback). She is General Editor of the series New Interventions in Art History published by Blackwell and Editor of the Art Historians Association's journal 'Art History'.