This site is an amazingly delightful look in to art history. I had a very difficult time trying to decide where you should start your visit. What I finally concluded was that you should start on the About page.
You can get to the About page by clicking the more link in the About SmartHistory box on the main page, or you can click the About SmartHistory link at the top of the page. The reason I think that this is a great starting place is because you learn why the site was created and what it can be used for. You also get a glimpse into their way of thinking and teaching. After you check out the About section. You should click on the Where Should I Start button on the main page.
Where Should I Start? – That’s a great question, with so much information available on this site it is a good idea to get some direction. Another reason for visiting this section is that you’ll get a few terms defined, and have access to a video that will help you look at art. In college Art classes it is one of the criteria that teachers have to teach you. They have to be able to impart to you how you should view art, how to look past your first emotional response (or in some cases lack of) so that you can appreciate the brush strokes, sculpting techniques, etc. Use the side menu to go through the different sections provided here.
Under Various you’ll learn things that will help you appreciate not only art, but the artist, artist workshops, and patronage. While under Media – you’ll learn about the various mediums that artists use to create their artwork. And under Institutions you’ll learn about how the academy affected art, and artists, as an extension of the monarchy.
Now that you have the terminology and the theory of analyzing art at your fingertips you can dive into the different periods of Western Art. Use the time line (in the center of the main page, or the bottom of the different sections we’ve already looked at) to dive into the period of history you’d like to explore art in. Your options range from Antiquity to Post-Colonialism.
As you click through, if you see a painting you like click it – to go to its page. There you will more than likely find a video that discusses the painting. I love that they’ve included videos because it gives you a different perspective on what you are looking at and may open your eyes to some detail you might have missed.
This is an incredible Art History site. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have and pass it on!