Art Appreciation 101 · Art History · Asian Art

Art History Skills: Subject Matter Analysis

Have you ever wondered how an art historian analyzes the content of an artwork, especially without research or prior information? If so, now’s your chance to find out. In this video, I analyze the imagery on a Tibetan Buddhist crown from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Notice how much information I can gather and how many possibilities I can evaluate merely from thinking critically about what I see. The video comes from a discarded early version of Art Appreciation for Beginners. Think of it as a bonus deleted scene.

Since the video doesn’t give you the best view of the crown itself, I recommend downloading these three high-res photos originally from the Met’s website to get the most out of this exercise. The museum has released them under its Open Access program. Click these links to download image #1, image #2, image #3.

I ended up not including this exercise in Art Appreciation for Beginners because I decided that it’s a little too advanced to fit into the course. (Though I reserve the right to change my mind and add it at some point.) My commentary obviously reflects all the experience I have in this area, and taking the course won’t prepare you do an analysis on this level. It will, however, introduce you to all the major elements involved in what I’ve discussed here. Therefore, consider this video a demonstration of what’s possible in the future – what can eventually be done with the skills you’ll start learning in Art Appreciation for Beginners when you develop them further. Enroll in the course if you are intrigued by what you see here.

Once you’ve watched the video, click here to see what the Met has to say about its crown.

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