Critically assess the uses and limitations of the concept of style for

The aim of this assignment is to develop your skills of visual analysis and picture research. It also requires you to develop a critical analysis of the concept of style and its uses. Guidance notes In order to carry out this assignment, you will need to ensure that you can define what is meant by ‘style’ and have a good understanding of the implications of this concept. You are therefore strongly advised to start by referring back to the opening pages of Block 2, Section 1. You should take care to take time to get to grips with the arguments developed in the essays by Willibald Sauerländer and Jaś Elsner that are set reading for this section. These offer, respectively, a critique and a defence of style-based art history; as such, they will help you to develop your own assessment of the uses and limitations of the concept of style. In addition, you will need to decide how to focus your essay. You should not attempt to discuss the full range of topics and ideas explored in Block 2, since this would make it impossible to address the issues in anything but a superficial way. You are therefore strongly advised to select two or three of the key authors discussed in Sections 1 and 2 of the block (in addition to Sauerländer and Elsner) to consider in greater depth; specific authors whom you might like to consider include Vasari, Winckelmann, Morelli, Wölfflin, Hauser, Schapiro, Gombrich, Greenberg and Alpers. You should feel free to refer to other authors, so long as it does not prevent you from analysing and assessing fully the ideas of the major authors whom you have selected. In addition, you are strongly advised to focus your answer either on the art of an earlier period of art history (before c. 1800) or on the art of the modern period (after c. 1800). If you decide to focus on earlier art, you should take account of topics and ideas discussed in Section 3 (‘Style and Byzantine art’); if you decide to focus on later art, you should take account of the topics and ideas discussed in Section 4 (‘Constructing histories of the modern and contemporary’). Each of these two sections provides a case study in the usefulness (or otherwise) of style-based approaches to art history that will help you to fulfil the requirements of this assignment.

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