critical history

In The Critical Historians of Art, Michael Podro distinguishes questions that are "archaeological" from "critical" questions. The latter, which address the role and nature of concepts of art, "require us to see how the products of art sustain purposes and interests which are both irreducible to the conditions of their emergence as well as inextricable from them." (pxviii)
(this formulation tries to balance the tendency towards formalism that results from stressing autonomy against the tendency to reduce art to trace or symptom when stressing the context.) For Podro, the two-sidedness of the nature of art is a central topic of critical history. 

A starting point for the critical historians was how to recognize differences in cultures while finding a way to appreciate their artworks. How could the understanding of one kind of art be adapted to the understanding of another? (p.4) 

Could a single conception of art be adequate to this task? How would it adapt to the assumption that the art of a particular time and place has a profound tie to its historical circumstance, including a particular operative concept of art?

The link between the critical historians and Kant revolves around this relation between the concept and its object. For Kant, judgement and object are strictly correlative concepts, so that in the critical sense, the truth of the object is always to be grasped and substantiated only through the truth of the judgement, once the rules of judgement have been defined. (see truth)