What Is a Art History?

Art|Art History

What Is Art History?

Art history is the academic study of art and its development over time. It is a discipline that seeks to understand the visual aspects of culture, including painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, film, and other forms of expression. Art historians examine works of art in an effort to understand the context in which they were created and their subsequent influence.

Art history can be divided into two main categories: Pre-Modern Art History and Modern/Contemporary Art History. Pre-Modern Art History covers the period from antiquity to the 19th century and includes ancient Greek and Roman art, Medieval art, Renaissance art, Baroque art, Neoclassical art, Romanticism and Realism. Modern/Contemporary Art History encompasses 20th century movements such as Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Postmodernism.

Art historians often focus on particular periods or styles of art that have had a lasting influence on subsequent generations of artists. This could include examining the works of one particular artist or comparing different artists from different eras to explore how certain artistic techniques or styles have evolved over time.

Additionally, many art historians are interested in exploring how different societies have expressed themselves through their artistic output. For example, some may focus on how ancient Egyptian culture was expressed through its funerary monuments or how Japanese prints depicted landscapes in new ways during the Edo period (1603-1868).

In addition to studying individual works of art or particular periods or styles of art history also looks into broader issues such as patronage systems or theories about how viewers ‘read’ a work of art. It also explores broader topics such as gender roles in the history of art or examines how colonialism has shaped the production and reception of certain types of artwork throughout history.

The study of art history not only provides us with an understanding of past cultures but also helps us to appreciate how our own culture has been shaped by those that came before us. By examining past works we can gain insight into what inspired them and what it means for society today.


In conclusion, Art History is an academic discipline that examines visual culture from antiquity to modern times in order to gain insight into historical influences on contemporary culture. It looks at individual works of art as well as broader issues such as patronage systems and theories about viewers’ interpretations. By studying past works we can gain insight into our own culture today as well as appreciate its evolution over time