A particular art piece may spark a debate as to what it means, but a better understanding may be gained by studying the time period of the artist. That’s what an arts history major does. They try to understand the culture, politics, and history of artists through the ages. He becomes adept at evaluating a piece of art by understand the factors that affected the artist, and by analyzing the cultural and historical importance of the art work.
To enter an art history program at a university or college, an applicant must at the very least have a high school diploma or its equivalent. But it is also typical for applicants to submit their scores in standardized tests, as well as letters of recommendation. A personal statement is also often expected as well, and it must demonstrate a strong appreciation and skill in art, along with a personal history of participation.
Since many factors can affect the mindset and attitude of an artist, and art works can impact time periods, students of art history need to take various courses in many different disciplines. These include courses in history, economics, cultural studies, and politics. Students also try to apply modern methods and knowledge to art works made in the past.
They are also required in many programs to take up art classes themselves. By studying painting, drawing, and sculpting, students gain a better sense of what artists go through and what techniques they employed.
Many college graduates with a degree in art history gravitate towards employment opportunities which may need both a familiarity of art and history. Often this means working in a museum as a curator or an administrator.
However, today, art history graduates can not only work in print art journals (or even fashion magazines) as critics or informative writers, but also in online art publications as art editors.
Teaching is also a common job for art history majors as well. Other may try working for media-related companies, such as in advertising and costume production in TV and movies.
Best Schools for an Art History Degree
Many top universities, including those in the Ivy League, offer art history undergraduate programs. Among the most highly rated is the University of Pennsylvania, which requires students to study paintings, sculptures, and even manuscripts. The study ranges from prehistoric times to modern day. Students can also take advantage of various historic sites and art museums in Philadelphia.
Brown University also has an excellent art history program. Students are asked to learn a foreign language, and there is a chance to study abroad for 6 weeks. Also among the most highly regarded is the art history program at New York University.
Other superb art history programs are offered in Yale University where the buildings in the campus feature architectural work from various time periods since its founding, and Brown University where students may get an internship at the Museum of the Rhode Island School of design.
Other good schools for art history are Stanford University, Dartmouth College, Vanderbilt University, University of Southern California (USC), Baylor University, and Duke University.