While many people don’t think about it, history and art go hand in hand. Many people see art and think of objects that can be seen and touched, and when they think of history they think of the past, which is interpreted in terms of records and documentation, as well as social and political events.
While there is a lot of history that cannot be seen or touched, there are aspects of history that can be touched, such as art. Art can be a real tool to help understand history and what has come before. Art historians have a unique job because they do not just look at objects and see the beauty in them, instead, they study the objects that are made by humans including structures and everyday items.
Art historians are not art critics who consider the quality of the art, instead, they spend time classifying the art as architecture, craft arts, sculpture, jewelry, textiles, etc. While artists have blurred the boundaries between different categories in the past, today multi media works are certainly blurring the line with regularity.
Art historians are constantly broadening their horizons, including not just the obvious items, but also computer generated images, which is in stark contrast to the past when anything created by a machine or computer would not have been seen as art. Today performance art is up for debate, with some art historians seeing it as art history others not so much. Performance art really shows how each person may have a different idea of what art is and is not.
The truth is that art is very subjective, but the goal of art history is to be less subjective, so one doesn’t simply consider something art because they do or do not like it. One how dislikes a piece of art for purely for superficial reasons does not look the art work’s artistic qualities, so the art historian needs to look not only at the object but also at the artistic quality. An art historian is able to look past not personally liking something because he or she knows that even if they don’t like it, it can be enjoyed by many other people.