World Art History: Shiva Nataraja and the Concept of Agency



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The purpose of this thesis is to demonstrate how a new method of art historical analysis that focuses on the agency of art works could be explored as a fundamental basis of world art history. I propose that the power of images is a common characteristic of art across the globe that’s unhindered by time. It could be used as a tool to create a world art history that deals equally well with both Western and non-Western art objects. I will use the Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s thirteenth century, Shiva Nataraja sculpture to explore core issues in world art history. More importantly, I will use this sculpture to demonstrate how traditional analyses are beneficial to understanding certain aspects of non-Western art. While exploring the application of traditional art historical strategies, I will also discuss how those analytical strategies do not adequately address how the art object functioned in its original context. New methods of analyses need to be developed to create a world art history.



World art history, Global art history, Shiva, Shiva nataraja, Agency