Home Open Arts Object: Critical Term - Classicism

Open Arts Object: Critical Term - Classicism

In this short film, Dr Emma Barker and Dr Kathleen Christian discuss the shifting uses and contested meanings of classicism, with reference both to the different types of art to which the term has been applied and to the various writers who have theorised it over the last two centuries. ‘Classicism’ (along with related terms such as ‘classic’ and ‘classical’) is widely used within the discipline of art history to characterise works of art and architecture that are thought to be inspired in some way by the legacy of ancient Greece and Rome. However, the actual term only came into use during the nineteenth century, that is, it dates from after the period between the Renaissance and circa 1800, during which the legacy of ancient Greece and Rome enjoyed its greatest prestige in Europe. Drs Barker and Christian also consider what classicism means to us today, now that the term has come to be widely associated with elitism and eurocentrism.

Works discussed include:  Apollo Belvedere, 2nd century AD, Rome, Vatican; Raphael, School of Athens, Stanza della Segnatura, 1510-11, Vatican, Rome; Jacques-Louis David, Oath of the Horatii, 1784, Musée du Louvre.

transcript of film

Related links:

Our film on the Laocoön

Explore further in our Open University module, A226 Exploring Art & Visual Culture