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iconology was an explanation of an image

Students involved in research on Byzantine, medieval, and Renaissance art will quickly learn that the art of those historical epochs is undisputedly difficult to decipher without some study of the history and theology. The texts on Christian art by Émile Mâle (1984), Erwin Panofsky (1953 and 1972), and Otto von Simson (1956) evidenced a careful interweaving of theology, scripture, and church history as connectors in the visual codes in the individual artworks analyzed. During the late 1960s the formal academic concern for the creative process corresponded with more than a comparative analysis of the aesthetic and the spiritual experience. Rather, fascination grew with the code of visual vocabulary and the mode by which images communicate ideas, as seen in the 1969 and 1974 texts of Rudolf Arnheim (b. 1904) and the 1971 text by Martin Heidegger (1889–1976).
Art-centered investigations begin with a fascination with or spotlight on art, particularly a specific work of art. Critical in this mode of analysis are the topics of the origin of the work of art, the “reading” of the signs and symbols, and recognition of the cultural and historic context as formative in the shaping of the artist and the artistic vision. Scholars who operate from this category of “art-centered investi-gations” are predominantly art historians, art critics, and aestheticians who typically analyze the art and religion of one faith tradition, as evidenced by Hisamatsu Shin’ichi’s (1889–1980) study of Zen Buddhist art (1982), André Grabar’s (1896–1990) texts on Christian art and iconography (1968), and Stella Kramrisch’s (1898–1993) work on Hindu art and architecture (1946 and 1965).