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Introduction to Art


Pamela J. Sachant, Ph.D.

Contributing Editors

Peggy Blood, Ph.D.
Jeffery LeMieux, MFA
Rita Tekippe, Ph.D.



Print Version


Digital Version



Introduction to Art: Design, Context, and Meaning offers a comprehensive introduction to the world of Art. Authored by four USG faculty members with advance degrees in the arts, this textbook offers up-to-date original scholarship. It includes over 400 high-quality images illustrating the history of art, its technical applications, and its many uses. Combining the best elements of both a traditional textbook and a reader, it introduces such issues in art as its meaning and purpose; its structure, material, and form; and its diverse effects on our lives. Its digital nature allows students to follow links to applicable sources and videos, expanding the students’ educational experiences beyond the textbook. Introduction to Art: Design, Context, and Meaning provides a new and free alternative to traditional textbooks, making it an invaluable resource in our modern age of technology and advancement.

Are you an instructor who’s interested in receiving a review copy? E-mail us at to request a desk copy.

Table of Contents


Chapter One: What is Art?

1.1 Learning Outcomes

1.2 Introduction

1.3 What is Visual Art?

1.4 Who is Considered an Artist? What Does It Mean to Be An Artist?

1.5 The Role of the Viewer

1.6 Why Do We Make Art?

1.7 Concepts Explored in Later Chapters

1.8 Before You Move On

1.9 Key Terms

 Chapter Two: The Structure of Art

2.1 Learning Outcomes

2.2 Introduction

2.3 Art Specific Vocabulary

2.4 Art Forms

2.5 Form and Composition

2.6 Before You Move On

2.7 Key Terms

Chapter Three: Significance of Materials Used in Art

3.1 Learning Outcomes

3.2 Introduction

3.3 Utility and Value of Materials

3.4 Precious Materials, Spolia, and Borrowed Glory

3.5 Liquidation of Treasures

3.6 Wood, Inlay, and Lacquer

3.7 Intrinsic Values and Enhanced Worth of Metals

3.8 Rare Materials and Prohibited Uses

3.9 Material Connotations of Class or Station

3.10 Before You Move On

3.11 Key Terms

Chapter Four: Describing Art

4.1 Learning Outcomes

4.2 Introduction

4.3 Formal or Critical Analysis

4.4 Types of Art

4.5 Styles of Art

4.6 Before You Move On

4.7 Key Terms

Chapter Five: Meaning in Art

5.1 Learning Outcomes

5.2 Introduction

5.3 Socio-Cultural Contexts

5.4 Symbolism and Iconography

5.5 Before You Move On

5.6 Key Terms

Chapter Six: Connecting Art to Our Lives

6.1 Learning Outcomes

6.2 Introduction

6.3 Aesthetics

6.4 Expression (Philosophical, Political, Religious, Personal)

6.5 Unification/Exclusion

6.6 Communication

6.7 Protest and Shock

6.8 Celebration and Commemoration

6.9 Worship

6.10 Information, Education, and Inspiration

6.11 Before You Move On

6.12 Key Terms

Chapter Seven: Form in Architecture

7.1 Learning Outcomes

7.2 Introduction

7.3 Residential Needs

7.4 Community and Government

7.5 Commerce

7.6 Worship

7.7 Before You Move On

7.8 Key Terms 

Chapter Eight: Art and Identity

8.1 Learning Outcomes

8.2 Introduction

8.3 Individual vs Cultural Groups

8.4 Before You Move On

8.5 Key Terms

Chapter Nine: Art and Power

9.1 Learning Outcomes

9.2 Introduction

9.3 Propaganda, Persuasion, Politics, and Power

9.4 Imagery of War

9.5 Before You Move On

9.6 Key Terms

Chapter 10: Art and Ritual Life

10.1 Learning Outcomes

10.2 Introduction

10.3 Exterior Ritual Spaces

10.4 The Sacred Interior

10.5 Masks and Ritual Behavior

10.6 Funerary Spaces and Grave Goods

10.7 Before You Move On

10.8 Key Terms

Chapter Eleven: Art and Ethics

11.1 Learning Outcomes

11.2 Introduction

11.3 Ethical Considerations in Making and Using Art

11.4 Censorship

11.5 Ethical Considerations in the Collecting and Display of Art

11.6 Before You Move On

11.7 Key Terms

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