Which Art Historical Method I Would Use: The Ideas of Erwin Panofsky and Adrian Piper

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As an aspiring art historian who has been exposed to a variety of diverse methods for analyzing art, there are two techniques in particular that stand prominent amidst the others: the ideas of Erwin Panofsky and Adrian Piper. It is not invalid to say that both art historians share a similar view of interpreting works of art, however, they also manage to complement one another perfectly. An integration of both Piper and Panofsky's points of view would result in an impeccable approach to delving into the minds of the artists and determining the significance of the works of art that they constructed. Erwin Panofsky introduced and labeled a tripartite structure of analyzing art; he argued that practicing this tripartite method would produce …show more content…

By immersing oneself in material of the period, one is then able to recognize and trace connections, therefore revealing the intrinsic meaning of the painting. Defending Erwin Panofsky's method to those who have doubts seems as though it should be nonsensical, because it is clearly the path that art historians must take. One simply cannot eliminate his method while simultaneously retaining the title of art historian. The omission of Panofsky's ideas transforms art history into art appreciation. By use of what other method should one endeavor to find the meaning of a work of art if not through the art's contemporary documents and artifacts? We cannot afford to ignore the clues that may provide us with an idea of the culture that surrounded the work of art—they are all we have. While approaching artifacts as a tool to explain the past to us, there will always be doubts of accuracy, however, until someone develops time travel, said artifacts are the most solid evidence in our possession. The moment we stop attempting to reveal what the artist was saying is the moment we do ourselves, as well as these great artists, a tremendous disservice. In Adrian

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