I've been reading through James Elkin's Stories of Art, which has prompted me to examine my own view of art history in new ways. Elkin begins by asking readers to draw their own "free and informal map of art history as it appears to you." He shows some creative maps he and some of his students and colleagues have drawn:
I found these examples interesting as they deviate so much from the typical timelines of art that are so familiar and as they show that we don't personally encounter art in a structured and universal manner. I was inspired to draw my own story of art.....but please don't judge drawing skills! I'm an art historian, not an artist!
For my "Story of Art" I decided to use the metaphor of a house. I labeled the front stoop as "Western Abstract Art" as that was the first art I can remember as a child. I was drawn to abstract sculpture (especially since a lot of public abstract sculpture doubles as playgrounds for little ones!) and I liked that I felt just as valid in my opinions of abstract paintings as adults since they didn't seem to know what to make of artwork without identifiable objects.
The door to my house, my art comfort zone if you will, has a peephole labeled "Impressionism." In college, I had a phenomenal instructor, Dr. Anderman, who really challenged me in a few courses related to Impressionism and 19th century European Art. I learned so much from her about how Paris modernized in the 1800s and I loved how Impressionist work gave me an opportunity to travel back in time through their works that so captured their time. After my peek at Impressionism, I grew fascinated by Modern Art, which opened the door to so many phenomenal and interesting artists that have grown to be some of the most fascinating creative minds I have ever encountered in any discipline.
I spent some time studying Renaissance Art in Florence, where I truly experienced art in a way I never had before. Not only did I begin to more fully understand the impact of the Renaissance of the development of western art, I also came to admire the work of antiquity for its ideals and beauty which have inspired so many.
In recent years, nestled in my little artistic comfort zone, I started to "look out the window" at some of the public art that has emerged in the last decade or so. I am drawn to their clever approaches to material and content, and appreciate them bringing visual arts to new audiences.
Living in Southern California, I have had the opportunity to venture from home a bit to see some great exhibitions related to work of regional contemporary artists. I particularly enjoy the work of the Light and Space artists of the 1960s, and am continually trying to learn more about artists emerging from the land I love so much!
So, how about you? Have you ever drawn your own "story of art"? I'd love to hear about it!