The aim of the two volumes of Key Writers on Art is to provide, both for students and the general reader, a stimulating and wide-ranging introduction to the many writers and thinkers-across disciplines-whose ideas play an important role in our understanding of the visual arts. Over the past few decades, the study of art has become increasingly complex and many-sided, with the concepts and methodologies of a range of disciplines being used to explore the relationships between the artist, the work, the viewer, and society. To the more traditional concerns with technique, style, artists' lives, cultural and historical contexts, iconography and so on, has been added a keen interest in the tools of analysis provided by for example, the psychology of perception, psychoanalytical theory (orthodox and reformed), sociology political thought (above all Marxism in its many forms), structuralism, semiotics, feminism, cultural theory and deconstruction.
It is this very diversity of approaches, traditional and modern, that the two volumes of Key Writers on Art aim to illustrate. So there are entries not only on aestheticians and art theorists (though they are well represented), but also on art critics and art historians, religious thinkers, poets, artists, social and political scientists, cultural theorists, connoisseurs, anthropologists, psychologists, and semioticians.
The entries in the first volume, which covers the period from classical antiquity to the end of the nineteenth century are arranged chronologically to reflect broad historical changes. The entries in the second volume, which covers the twentieth century are arranged alphabetically For ease of reference, there are chronological and alphabetical listings in both volumes, and both have a general index. Cross-references have been indicated in bold throughout. Each entry ends with a paragraph of biographical data and, for those interested in finding out more, a further reading section that lists both primary and secondary texts.