Look at Art History – the Creative Act

Art and design doesn’t come from a vacuum; everything YOU do today follows threads that come before. If you’re looking for fresh inspiration and not finding it, try looking behind you.

Still confused about what you’re doing here? Read this…


your turn to DRAW

  • Even the smallest towns often have at least one art or cultural centre, museum, events, or pop-up markets where you can have a look at exhibitions of local creative output, historic or otherwise, so make a point to find out what’s near you and get yourself over there to check it out, with a sketchbook and pencil in hand to capture the bits that interest you the most.
  • If you’re in London, there’s art history a-plenty – ALL FOR FREE! British Museum, V&A, National Gallery, both Tates, to name a few. Pick a decade or an era, find something in the gallery that really speaks to you, and emulate the artist’s example. Hit the gift shop on the way out for some postcards to study, and also, don’t forget to tag the museum/gallery when you share your sketches on social media post (they love to know that visitors are enjoying and engaging with their collection and they might even give you a friendly shout-out!)
  • In no particular order, a few of my favourite art history texts:  Gardner’s Art Through the Ages for in-depth texts, detailed images, more women and non-Western art, and less misogynistic and imperialist than Janson’s History of Art (which I still have a soft spot for because my artist grandmother had one); and this one by DK “Art – The Definitive Visual Guide” composed in an easily digestible format with punchy text and lots of nice pictures. Oxford’s History of Art series is also enjoyable but rather than cram the usual art timeline into one volume, they also divide their books into separate in-depth research topics, such as “Portraiture” or “Beauty”.
  • Most towns big and small have interesting architecture or public art to draw from – all of which can serve as inspiration for your next creative act.

    Henry Moore’s ‘Lock and Piece’ public sculpture on Millbank, London

Art history without leaving the homestead

The aforementioned cultural institutions all over the world have a website chock-full of pictures and info about their objets d’art. And for more general learning, have a look at these:

These and other sites are free (though it would be appreciated if you could throw them a few bones if you like what you see while you’re on their site)

Maybe this Ransom Note gives you a different idea? Let me know!


ShaRe the LovE

You’ve come this far, now why not

<<<<< click to share your creativity – @beware.of.artists

Not only does your creativity need YOU, but here’s a surprise, the world needs your creativity, too! By sharing your response to a Ransom Note, we are building a community who will enjoy, be inspired by, and learn from each other. Who knows, maybe some of us will “find our tribe” or even make the world that tiny bit more pleasant to be in than it was 15 minutes ago!


Some other artist who engage with ART HISTORY

  • American photographer/artist Sherrie Levine engages in “…wide-ranging discourse on the historical and contemporary meaning of originality and authorship” through frequent appropriation of art and other cultural objects.

    Sherrie Levine, ‘Fountain (Buddha)’, 1996, bronze. Image: xavierhufkens.com
  • Artemesia Gentileschi is a 16th century painter who made her reputation through deft use of allegory, or direct reference to greek mythology and biblical themes. She was so well-recognised in her time, she would use her own self-portrait as part of her “brand”.

    Artemisia Gentileschi, ‘Self-portrait as St Catherine of Alexandria’, 1615-1617, oil on canvas. Image: nationalgallery.org.uk
  • French artist Léo Caillard rethinks history through contemporary new media such as digital photography or 3D printing.

    Léo Caillard, ‘Clothes make the man’, 2017, marble and clothes (artwork); Photography fine art print (edition). Image: LeoCaillard.com
  • Svetlana Petrova and her ginger pet, Zarathustra the Cat hilariously collaborate to immortalise Zarathustra as a main character in old master’s paintings. Which, of course, you can buy in calendars, t-shirts, and the like.

    ‘Michelangelo, the creation of Cat-dam’. Image: fatcatart.com

What other artists or techniques can you think of? Let me know!

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