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Periodization of the Arts


No single system of periodization has emerged. Some observers regard the existence of multiple systems based on varying criteria as a symptom of the arbitrariness and illogicality of period schemes, while others interpret the same multiplicity as a positive result of the study of history. In this view, each periodization offers a possible strategy for the study of art, which encompasses widely diverse activities, including writing surveys, artistic biographies, catalogues raisonnés, iconographic analyses, or cross-cultural overviews. If the definition of periods and their temporal limits can be regarded as provisional strategies rather than objective reality, then the choice of periodization schema can be determined by the problem at hand. Different systems of periodization can be regarded as beneficial rather than chaotic when they permit the same masses of data to be organized by different principles and to yield different insights. Thus the ongoing debate about periodization contributes to the continuing vitality of the disciplines related to the visual arts.


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Kaylee Spencer-Ahrens

Linnea Wren

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Pebi- to History of Philosophy - IndifferentismPeriodization of the Arts - What Is A Period?, Periodization And Globalization: Mesoamerica As A Case Study, Feminism And Periodization