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Art History 101 . . . Without the Exams

Looking Closely at Objects from the History of Art

Annie Montgomery Labatt


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Have you ever found art museums intimidating and art history a baffling mix of periods, names, and styles? Annie Labatt's Art History 101 without the Exams: Looking Closely at Objects from the History of Art aims to remove this inaccessibility issue in the art world by breaking the history of art down into twenty accessible lessons, each built around a single, canonical piece considered a masterpiece from its era.

Beginning with prehistoric cave drawings and Greek statues; continuing through the Gothic, Byzantine, Baroque, and the Renaissance movements; and concluding with the Impressionist work of Monet and Picasso, Labatt asks us to consider each work and think about the artist who created it and what they wanted us to see. She frames our understanding of the historical and social context of the piece as well as the background of the artist and, in many cases, the patron who commissioned it.

Each period and its discussion stands alone and lends itself to be read individually and in no particular order. From the tiniest of details to the broadest cultural implications and meanings, Art History 101 helps us see why these works of art are considered masterpieces. In completing the full course, one sees how each piece contributes to a larger portrait--the full narrative of art history through the ages.

Trinity University Press, 9781595348784, 520pp.

Publication Date: February 16, 2021

About the Author

Annie Montgomery Labatt is Associate Professor of Visual Studies and Director of Galleries and Museums at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. She graduated with High Honors from Barnard College of Columbia University in 2002, and received her PhD from Yale University in 2011. While a graduate student, she won a two-year Rome Prize at the American Academy of Rome, and was also a fellow at Harvard University's Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. She has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on two major exhibitions, once as a research assistant and once as a Chester Dale Fellow. Laboratory of Images: Emerging Iconographies in 8th- and 9th- Century Rome, her study of the development of Christian imageries, is forthcoming.