Art History Courses

By Jessica Hetley - Last update

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Learn from the Grand Masters with a course in Art History

Art has been around for as long as humans have existed. The history of art and the history of humanity have been intertwined for millennia. A course in Art History is more than looking at great works of the past, it is a look at the history of human society and how it has evolved.

There are many different things to study on an art history course, so if looking at Monet, Renoir and Michelangelo is not to your tastes, then don’t worry – there is so much more to the subject than just that.

What is art history?

Art history is exactly as it suggests – a history of art. This often takes the form of studying classical painting, but it can also extend to many other mediums, including sculpture, architecture, literature and modern media, such as television and film. Students will learn about the processes involved in creating these masterpieces, and how they came to be. They will learn about the symbolism and the stories behind great artworks.

Learning about art history also helps students to gain a better appreciation of them. There is always more to a piece of art than simply the end product. Some of the common areas of study on an art history course include:

  • Classical art
    o This mostly covers the art of ancient Rome and Greece, though it can also include other classical civilisations of the time.
  • Early Christian art
    o This deals with art from Byzantium and the Romanesque period, shortly after the end of the Roman Empire and up to the early middle ages.
  • Gothic art
    o Gothic art experienced a resurgence in the late 19 th Century. The original art was common in northern Europe several centuries ago.
  • The Renaissance
    o Perhaps the single most stereotypical era of art that comes to mind when people talk about ‘art history’
  • Baroque and the Grand Masters
    o The late 16th Century onwards was a time when some of the most famous works of art were ever produced, particularly in the Netherlands and Spain.
  • Neoclassicism and Romanticism
    o This also includes Rococo and covers much of the art of the 18th century onwards.
  • 19th century art
    o This is the beginning of the modern art movement. Impressionism features heavily here.

Different courses will have different objectives. Some courses will focus more heavily on specific period of history than on others, so make sure that you apply for the course that interests you the most

What can I do when I finish?

Taking a specialised qualification like art history suggests that you are highly likely to work in an art related field. This can also include actually working as an artist, using the knowledge of art that you have gained from studying.

If you have taken a course that does not form part of a degree programme, you will be able to use it as evidence that you are able to study art history at a university level. This will open up many more specialised jobs within the industry.

Some art history graduates go on to work in galleries and agencies, as well as for specialist arts foundations. Their backgrounds in art history make them ideal candidates for such jobs, as having studied formally, they have a strong understanding of the subject matter.

There is a fantastic range of art history courses available, so no matter what you need from a course, whether it is subject matter, a flexible course layout or something else entirely, there is sure to be a course that is right for you.

Jessica Hetley

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