History and Theory 26 (2):150-165 (1987)

The existence of conflicting interpretations in literature, history, and art history casts doubt on the ability of any interpretation to be true to the facts. The role of the art historian is complicated by this reconsideration of what is valuable in interpretation. Progress in the history of art is difficult to ascertain. The scope and diversity of twentieth-century criticism of Piero della Francesca's Renaissance frescoes is difficult to compare to his less extensive Renaissance criticism by Vasari. While the antirelativist would be comfortable setting individual interpretations against a set of ahistorical standards, the relativist avoids evaluating differing interpretations as more or less valuable. Both relativism and antirelativism steer evaluations away from the notion of truth in interpretation. The marginalization of truth is furthered by the lack of "facts" in art. The flexibility of the data in art history makes multiple interpretations unavoidable. Only by acknowledging the inevitable coupling of form with content and the meaninglessness of searching for truth outside of the limiting structures of form, can truthful representations occur in pictures and in narratives
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DOI 10.2307/2505119
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Toward a Metaphysical Historicism.Sondra Bacharach - 2005 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63 (2):165–173.

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