What Is Art History?

Art history is the academic study of art, taking into account the time period, worldwide region, cultural ideals, philosophy, aesthetics and techniques. Continue reading for information about art history genres, degree programs and career options. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

The Basics of Art History

Art history, a field that is often offered as a university degree major, deals with the study of the historical implications of fine art. The field is usually divided by both the era and region to help scholars more effectively study the ways in which historical context affected the artwork. For example, a painting created in 20th century Europe would most likely not be included in the same discussion or study as a piece of pottery found in ancient China.

It is also important to note that art history not only views a particular piece from an aesthetic perspective, but also as an expression of the artist's worldview. This worldview includes the social, political, economic and philosophical conditions in which the art was created. Some of the categories into which art history is generally divided are discussed below.

Important Facts About Art History

Certificate Levels Undergraduate, Graduate, and Post-baccalaureate certificates available
Specializations Ancient art, medieval art, Renaissance art, Baroque art, 18th and 19th-century art, pre-war modern art
Online Availability Fully
Possible Careers Researcher, corporate consultant, appraiser, instructor, writer, reviewer, preservationist
Median Salary (2018) $61,140 (for historians)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 6% (for historians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Renaissance Western Art

Art created during the Renaissance shows evidence of a return to the material world. As opposed to expressing Biblical truths, artists began creating works that reflected the landscape of the earth and the physical nature of man.

Eastern Art

The vast and rich cultures of Asia created a wide variety of artwork throughout thousands of years. This period is usually further divided by location, specifically India, China and Japan. Importance is also placed upon the ways in which Eastern and Western art affected one another.

Modern and Contemporary Art

This period is characterized by the many art movements that flourished during the 20th century. Because of increased global interaction during this time, artists became increasingly influenced by a wide variety of cultures. Many influential movements included in this period are impressionism, dadaism and surrealism.

Art History Degree Programs

Several colleges and universities offer bachelor's and master's degree programs in art history, and graduate programs may offer concentration options in several genres. Students in art history programs explore artistic traditions and visual culture, and they learn how to professionally describe the significance of art pieces and write critical analyses.

Students may have the chance to take courses on art history in less-studied regions, such as Oceania, Native American and Korean, as well as study unique art forms, like rock art, architectural art, installation art and digital art. Furthermore, coursework may explore the connections between artwork and spirituality or artwork and feminism.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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