What Is Taught in Art History?

Art|Art History

The study of art history is a broad field that encompasses the history, analysis, and interpretation of artworks from many different cultures and time periods. It is often studied through an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates philosophy, anthropology, sociology, economics, and other related fields. The primary focus of art history is the visual arts, but it also includes architecture, sculpture, and crafts. Art historians analyze works of art to understand their meaning and context within the larger culture in which they were created.

Art history courses are generally divided into two main areas: historical analysis and critical analysis.

Historical analysis focuses on the context in which a work of art was made: the place where it was created; the socio-economic and political environment; the artist’s biography; and related topics. Critical analysis examines how an artwork is composed: its use of line, shape, color, texture; its composition; its symbolic meaning; its formal properties such as scale or balance; and its relationship to other works.

Other topics studied in art history include patronage (the support given to an artist), iconography (the study of symbols), aesthetics (the principles governing beauty), connoisseurship (the ability to judge quality), conservation (preserving works of art)and curatorial studies (how works are presented in museums).


What Is Taught in Art History?

Art history courses offer students a comprehensive examination of visual arts from many different cultures and time periods. Through both historical and critical analysis students can gain a greater understanding of how artwork is composed as well as the context in which it was made. Other topics such as patronage, iconography, aesthetics, connoisseurship, conservation and curatorial studies are also explored in depth.