Good morning, today's lecture is the very first of a series of lectures on art history, so I'd like to spend some time discussing with you the following topic:
Why do we need to study art history? And what can we learn from it?
First of all, I'd say, if you study art history, this might be a good way to learn more about a culture than it's possible to learn in general history classes.
You know, most typical history courses concentrate on politics, economics and war, but art history focuses on much more than this.
Because art reflects not only the political values of a people, but also their religious beliefs, emotions etc.
In addition, information about the daily activities of our ancestors can be provided by art,
like what people did for a living, what kind of dress they wore, what ceremonies they held etc.
In short, art can express the essential qualities of a time and a place,
and the study of it clearly offers us a deeper understanding than can be found in most history books and enables us to learn more things about human society and civilization.
The second point I'd like to make is about the type of information.
In history books, information is objective, that is facts about political economic life of a country are given, but opinions are not expressed.
Art, on the other hand, is subjective. It reflects personal emotions and opinions.
For example, Francisco Goya was a great Spanish painter and also perhaps the first truly political artist.
In his famous painting, The Third of May 1808, he showed soldiers shooting a group of simple people.
His description of soldiers and their victims has become a symbol of the enormous power or the misuse of this power that the government can have over its people.
Over 100 years later, on another continent, the powerful paintings of Mexican artists depicted their deep anger and sadness about social problems.
In summary, through art you can find a personal and emotional view of history.