History of architecture

Traditionally, architecture has been considered a "royal" discipline of art and its priority has always been emphasized. It provides men with shelter and facilities not only for themselves but also for their various "institutions" - religious, political, public, economic, cultural, etc. Architecture is also a part of our immediate physical environment and cannot be avoided in our daily lives and actions. Its importance lies in the social utility and also in the fact that it provides a framework and space for other artistic expressions in its decoration. It is not without relevance that the main artistic styles known today (Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque) have been defined on the basis of architectural elements.

The Department of Art History has always been focused on finding ways to interpret architecture both within specific edifices and in terms of different ways and reflections of building. Researchers such as Václav Richter, Zdeněk Kudělka and currently Jiří Kroupa have left a significant mark in the tradition of architecture research. Especially Baroque architecture and modern architecture of the 20th century have been accented in our studies, but the exploration of building culture covers all periods, which is substantiated not only by the publications by the members of the Department of Art History but also resonates in the topics of the defended diploma theses. In addition to the principles generally applicable to art history (source criticism, language skills, historical and cultural-historical knowledge, etc.), the examination of architectural works presupposes especially the cultivation of the ability to visually understand the building, its layout, internal structure, as well as its external characteristics and virtue.

However, learning about the building in the sense of its history, form, and style is just the beginning. At the Department of Art History, we focus on exploring and learning about ("investigating") buildings in their social and historical context. Architecture is not only analysed as a form but rather as a "building task" where the motivations for its creation, the conditions under which it was shaped and the ways in which it was used and perceived are all revealed. Only the explanation of all the circumstances surrounding the construction and operation of particular buildings will help us to explain the purpose and meaning of buildings that ubiquitously surround us. And only in this way can we understand their unique form and content which were created through the synergy of skills and ideas of builders/architects and patrons, as well as the subsequent "life" of the buildings. All this together creates the unique "meaning" of the buildings situated in the singular environment in which they were created. Finding this "meaning" or "essence" and conveying it to the present viewer is the primary task of those who leave the Department of Art History as qualified art historians.

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