Why you should study Art History

October 24, 2023
5 min read
Cress Warnell

Art History is a popular choice for many students looking to go to university for numerous reasons, including the courses focus on visual analysis and all things art related. This is especially relevant as with the increase in technology and visual media, society is switching from verbal thinking to visible thinking.

As an art history student you will get the opportunity to choose an area to specialise in - if you have an area of particular interest, such as disability or LGBTQ+ representation, or how diversity, the influence of different cultures, or mental health are portrayed through different art forms.

You will also be able to focus on the type of art that interests you most. This could be visual art in terms of painting, sculpture, architecture, or performing arts throughout the past, and in contrast to the world today.

It's important to make informed decisions about which course you are choosing to study for the next three- four years in formal education. Summer Schools has complied this useful, informative article to help you gain a full understanding of what art history is, and why you should study art history.

What is Art History?

Art History (or History of Art) is a degree level course that involves analysing pieces of art - from the most famous paintings and sculptures to lesser known pieces but equally as impressive pieces.

During an Art History course, you will analyse the artist's approach, interpretation, style and composition as well as use of materials, lines, texture and shape used to create the piece. You will then have to use critical thinking skills, visual literacy and written communication (both of which you will develop over the duration of the course) to make informed inferences, and to draw conclusions about what the intentions and meaning could have been at the time of history in which the piece was created.

What qualifications do you need to study Art History?

In order to study art history you will normally need to achieve A Level grades of ABB in your subjects of choice, but this will depend upon the university you have chosen to apply to; each will have slightly different entry requirements.

There are normally no specific A Levels that are required, although there are definitely certain subjects that will be helpful to you in order to both get accepted into the course, and then to have context and understanding once it has started. Some of these include:

  • Art
  • History
  • Photography
  • English literature
  • Religious studies
  • Modern foreign language
  • Economics

Appreciation and understanding of art

Studying art history allows deep appreciation and understanding of different art forms, styles, and techniques. By exploring the rich tapestry of artistic expressions throughout history, individuals can gain a profound insight into the diverse ways in which art has been created and interpreted.

Delving into the beauty, meaning, and cultural significance of artworks from different periods opens up a world of imagination and inspiration. It provides an opportunity for each art historian - and history of art student - to explore the captivating stories behind each brushstroke, sculpted form, or nuanced composition.

Art history teaches students not only about the aesthetic qualities of an art piece but also about the historical, social, and cultural context in which it was created.

Delve into the rich cultural and historical contexts in which artworks were created

By examining the history, society, and culture associated with a particular time period, you can better understand the motivations, influences and thought processes behind the creation of these artworks.

Artworks are not created in isolation, they are products of their time and environment. Art history helps you comprehend the various factors that shape the creation of art, including political events, social movements, and cultural trends. By studying art history, you gain a deeper understanding of how art reflects and reacts to the world around it.

Art history also enhances your appreciation and understanding of human history and civilisation - through the study of art, you will be able to decipher the themes, messages, and ideologies that artists sought to convey. This enrichment of understanding extends beyond the realm of visual art, and offers insights into broader aspects of human history, such as politics, religion, and philosophy.

What are my career options?

Studying art history opens up a world of exciting career opportunities in various fields. The knowledge and skills gained from studying art history can lead to fulfilling professions in numerous jobs such as:

  • museums
  • galleries - gallery curator or assistant
  • art education
  • museum design
  • conservation
  • research
  • archivist
  • heritage manager
  • journalist
  • publisher

This is not the full list of jobs you could get with a degree in art history - the competence you will gain across so many fields will ensure you develop a full and diverse set of transferrable skills that any employer will find enticing!

Career paths Art History graduates often take are that of an:

  • exhibition curator
  • museum and art manager
  • art teachers
  • art conservationists
  • art researchers
  • art historians

By studying art history, individuals can combine their passion for art with fulfilling professions. They can pursue careers that not only provide financial stability but also allow them to make a difference in preserving and promoting art and culture.

If you are looking for help on choosing a university course, or have a university course in mind but are not sure how to go about applying for it, Summer Schools are always here to help. Contact us today for expert advice and support.

Cress Warnell

Cress is a skilled copywriter who transforms ideas into captivating content. With a passion for words and a keen eye for detail, she crafts compelling copy for Summer Schools, helping students explore their options in education.

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