Kim H. Veltman

A New Classification for Art

Die Klassifikation und ihr Umfeld. Proceedings 10. Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Klassification eV, eds. P. O. Degens et al., (Frankfurt: Indeks Verlag, 1986), pp.76-84, (Studien sur Klassifikation, Bd. 17).

0. Introduction
1. Connecting
2. Ordering
3. Matching
4. Systematizing
5. Mixing
6. Internalizing
7. Externalizing
8. Conclusions

0. Introduction

Three years ago I drew attention to the phenomenon that most efforts at classification have been in terms of verbal images. Visual images have been relatively neglected. Photographic archives of paintings typically have an author index and a primitive subject index. In some cases a search can be made under the names of individual gods, goddesses, etc. Van der Waal's Iconclass provides one of the first comprehensive lists of subjects and contents of visual images. The Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) and the Getty Center's Art History Information Program (AHIP) are also working in this direction. In computerized form, these developments will allow a new degree of access to the subjects and contents of art.

These subjects and contents depend largely on the particular functions or goals of art in a given culture. Sir Ernst Gombrich's work has thrown much light on several of these functions, particularly, 1) mimesis, imitation or matching (e.g. Art and Illusion), 2) allegory or symbolism (Symbolic Images), 3) pattern or ornament (A Sense of Order). If one could identify all the chief functions of art, then these categories could be used for a new classification. This paper is a preliminary attempt in that direction. Seven basic categories are suggested: connecting, ordering, matching, systematizing, mixing, internalizing and externalizing.

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