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date: 19 October 2019

Science and artlocked

  • Martin Kemp


Any discussion of the relation between science and art is inevitably conditioned by the specific meanings and associations that each term has come to acquire in the modern era. During earlier periods in which ‘science’ (Lat. scientia) meant a systematic body of knowledge constructed on rational principles, and ‘art’ referred to an activity requiring the steady acquisition of skill, the fields of science and art were not automatically regarded as the polar opposites that they have tended to become in the modern classifications of intellectual disciplines. The term ‘science’ in its present sense relies on the conception of the systematic investigation of natural, celestial and mathematical phenomena formulated in the West in the 19th century. This article focuses on science in this sense and therefore concentrates on Western material. It also concentrates on the relevance of science to artists, rather than on the scientific methods employed by art historians and archaeologists. For a survey of scientific techniques used in establishing quantifiable historical data for artefacts, ...

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