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This is a bibliography of helpful sources intended to prepare you for teaching.  It is by no means comprehensive!  But, if you need to read one thing on Roman sculpture or the Arnolfini portrait, here it is.
– Compiled by Jennifer Ball

NOTE: Oxford Art Online (formerly Grove Art) is excellent for just about any topic and I recommend reading book reviews of monographs on major topics – it usually gives the breakdown of the major arguments and problems/dissenting views.

Basics of Religious Iconography:

(Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic):
Khan Academy’s  Standard scenes from the life of Christ in art


Connelly, J. (1996). Parthenon and Parthenoi: A Mythological Interpretation of the Parthenon Frieze. American Journal of Archaeology, 100(1), 53-80. doi:10.2307/506297

Joan Connelly in American Journal of Archaeology 1996 on Parthenon Frieze:  her idea for the subject is controversial, but as with most good articles there is a detailed review of all of the ideas about the Parthenon frieze to date.

Marvin, M. (1989). Copying in Roman Sculpture: The Replica Series. Studies in the History of Art, 20, 29-45. Retrieved from

Rachel Kousser responded to it in this article:
Kousser, R. (2009). The historiography of Roman art and the “modern copy myth”. Journal of Roman Archaeology. 22 (2009 pt2) 608-10.

Kousser, R. (2005) Creating the Past: The Vénus de Milo and the Hellenistic Reception of Classical Greece. American Journal of Archaeology v. 109 no. 2 (April 2005) p. 227-50

Kousser, R. (2009). Destruction and Memory on the Athenian Acropolis. Art Bulletin, 91(3), 263-282.

Vitruvius Pollio., & Gwilt, Joseph. (1874). The architecture of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio: In ten books. Lockwood.

I guess architectural history all comes back to Vitruvius, right?  Very interesting to read the original, especially if you want to talk about Greek humanism as it relates to architecture.  See especially his section on the Greek orders and their proportions as measured by human ratios.

MacDonald, W. L., & Pinto, J. (2002/1976). The Pantheon: Design, meaning, and progeny. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. (Available to check out from NYCCT and Hostos)

I spend a lot of time on the Pantheon and keep coming back to it, so this detailed study is very useful.


Byzantium and Hagia Sophia:

If you really want the architecture, it’s in Roland Mainstone’s book.  Mainstone, R. (1997). Hagia Sophia : Architecture, structure, and liturgy of Justinian’s great church (1st pbk. ed.). New York, N.Y.: Thames and Hudson. Earlier edition also available at the Grad Center.  Call #NA5870.A9 M28 1997 and NA5870 .A9 M28 1988

An excellent article on the experience inside Hagia Sophia is: James, L. (2004). Senses and Sensibility in Byzantium. Art History, 27(4), 522-537. doi:10.1111/j.0141-6790.2004.00436.x

In Ousterhout, R. (1999). Master builders of Byzantium. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press., you can read the synopsis of any byz building (just about) and get a good overview.

There is so much written about Chartres, it’s overwhelming and much is about the stained glass and the sculpture rather than the architecture.  But instead for architecture –all Gothic actually – I’d look at Rolf Toman. Gothic Architecture-Sculpture-Painting.  (H.F. Ullman, 2008).

Nicola Coldstream, Medieval Architecture (2002)

Very thorough overview.  Also good for non-French examples.

Laura H. Hollengreen, “From Medieval Sacred Place to Modern Secular Space:  Changing Perspectives on the Cathedral and Town of Chartres,” in Architecture as Experience, ed. Arnold and Ballantyne (2004), chap. 4.

Malka Simon used to teach this in tandem with Flood’s article on iconoclasm, so you could tie this back into your section on Islamic art if you wanted. Also, it offers another angle on Chartres that follows through to later periods. It raises the issue of building as an evolving structure, not just a dead monument.  Also points to the cultural/social relevance of a monument to its immediate geographic location (Chartres isn’t just the name on the slide, it was an actual town).

Michael Camille, Glorious Visions is a great very short textbook that will provide good background on anything Gothic.  James Snyder, Medieval Art to look up anything for any medieval period.


R. McMullen: ‘Mona Lisa’: The Picture and the Myth (Boston, MA, 1975) – note that this was written before the early 1990s when the identity of the sitter was 100% confirmed by the publication of the inventory of da Vinci’s assistant, so discussions about that are no longer relevant but it is helpful nonetheless and as far as I know there is nothing recent on this work.

Peter Murray, The Architecture of the Italian Renaissance, 1986.

Good survey

Richard A. Goldthwaite, The Building of Renaissance Florence:  An Economic and Social History (1980).

Brings some issues of urbanism to the mix. Ties monuments into the city’s fabric.

Linda Seidel’s book on the Arnolfini portrait is the best, but if it’s too much, you can read some of the reviews and get all the arguments on the portrait with respect to gender. The point of this article is about mss. but it nonetheless gives a good overview of the iconography and historiography on the piece: Sandler, L. F. The Handclasp in the Arnolfini wedding: a manuscript precedent. The Art Bulletin v. 66 (September 1984) p. 488-91.


Very helpful on perspectives on inscriptions everywhere:

Erica Cruikshank Dodd, “The Image of the Word: Notes on the Religious Iconography of Islam,” in Late Antique and Medieval Art of the Mediterranean World, 185-212

Rather than reading his monograph, the short version: Oleg Grabar, “The Umayyad Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem,” in Late Antique and Medieval Art of the Mediterranean World, 147-184

Grabar, O. What should one know about Islamic art?. Res (Cambridge, Mass.) no. 43 (Spring 2003) p. 5-11


Such a thoughtful article – everyone should read this: Flood, F. B. Between Cult and Culture: Bamiyan, Islamic Iconoclasm, and the Museum [With Appendix: The Taliban’s Edict on Images]. The Art Bulletin v. 84 no. 4 (December 2002) p. 641-59


Las Meninas  – certainly not the last word on this painting, but a good article: Word & Image v. 17 no. 3 (July/September 2001) p. 219-32Publication Year:2001 – you might also check out the 2010 Art Bulletin issue on the painting vis-à-vis colonialist readings.

Interesting on Caravaggio: Thomas, F. An Augustinian Interpretation of Caravaggio’s “Calling of St. Matthew”. Studies in Iconography v. 27 (2006) p. 157-91 – again there are tons of articles on this work and C. in general, so you probably can’t go wrong to choose one and read it.


Melissa Hyde on Francois Boucher’s portrait of Pompadour in Art Bulletin– you might not teach this painting but for me it gave a great perspective on Rococco art, which before reading this article I hatedJ


William J. Curtis, Modern Architecture since 1900; Alan Colquhoun, Modern Architecture (Oxford History of Art)

In case the modernists need some architectural sources…two good surveys (Curtis is extremely comprehensive).


Diana Eck, Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India (Columbia Univ. Press, 1998). Excellent book on Hinduism and the role of art. Great discussion on Siva.

Wayne Begley, “The Myth of the Taj Mahal and a New Theory of Its Meaning,” The Art Bulletin v. 61, no. 1 (March 1979). Article gives good overview of the Taj, but also could be used to raise the question of how iconographic approach functions outside of Western Europe.

A classic book on Eurocentric/orientalizing views of Indian art is Partha Mitter’s Much Maligned Monsters (1977). I’ve always found this book informative and thought-provoking. Also, helps the reader understand some of the common misperceptions and biases about India.


A reliable survey of Mesoamerican art is Michael Coe and Rex Coontz’s Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs (Thames and Hudson, 2008). This doesn’t cover the Maya, so for that turn to Coe’s book on the Maya or Mary Ellen Miller’s Maya Art and Architecture. They are all good for different reasons. Coe does an excellent job of providing historical information. Miller is more focused on dividing art by material/medium/form.

An excellent article that I strongly urge everyone to read before dealing with anything outside of the so-called “West” is Carolyn Dean’s “The Trouble with (the Term) Art,” Art Journal (Summer 2006): 25-32. You might also read Esther Pasztory, “Aesthetics and Pre-Columbian Art.” Res 29/30 (1996), for more on the general idea of pre-colonial aesthetics.

For anyone lecturing on the “masterpieces” of Aztec art, these are recent excellent discussions of some of these objects. Cecelia Klein’s “A New Interpretation of the Coatlicue Sculpture,” in Las mujeres en Mesoamérica, ed. María Rodríguez-Shadow (Universidad Autónoma Estado de México, 2005) is very comprehensive on past interpretations. Also, is wonderdul at demonstrating the complexity of Aztec art. Also raises important ideas in relation to sacrifice, which is always a delicate issue.


For South America, consider Rebecca Stone-Miller’s short survey The Art of the Andes: From Chavin to the Inca.

Those of you interested in portraiture might look at Christopher Donnan’s “Moche Ceramic Portraits.” In Moche Art and Archaeology in Ancient Peru (National Gallery of Art, 2004). He also has an entire book on the subject. Another option is to look in the Retratos: 2,000 Years of Latin American Portraits. Not as good, and certainly not without its problems, but a good overview of portraiture.

A recent and excellent article on Inka architecture is Carolyn Dean’s “The Inka Married the Earth: Integrated Outcrops and the Making of Place,” Art Bulletin LXXXIX, no. 3 (September 2007). It deals heavily with Machu Picchu. Also, is interesting in the context of dealing with what is labeled “art”.

POST-CONQUEST LATIN AMERICA (for lack of a better term)

Carolyn Dean and Dana Leibsohn, “Hybridity and Its Discontents: Considering Visual Culture in Colonial Spanish America,” Colonial Latin American Review, vol. 12 (2003), no. 1, pp. 5-35.

For the post-Independence period, Max Kozloff’s “Orozco and Rivera: Mexican Fresco Painting and the Paradoxes of Nationalism,” in Latin American Artists of the Twentieth Century, is a great overview of Mexican muralism.


Walter E. van Beek’s “Functions of Sculpture in Dogon Religion,” African Arts vol. 21, no. 4 (1988) is a classic on Dogon sculpture, and it is very informative.

For African masking and performance, Zoe Strother’s Inventing Masks is great. It contains many excellent images that are difficult to find elsewhere.

Suzanne Preston Blier’s The Royal Arts of Africa is also an excellent introduction to many different cultures across the continent.


For anyone interested in Chinese landscape painting, Wen C. Fong’s “Monumental Landscapes” in Possessing the Past (1996) and his article in Art Bulletin, “Why Chinese Painting is History,” (June 2003) are both theoretical and informative.