Art History is the discipline concerned with the historical study of visual communication. It includes much of what is traditionally considered “Art,” such as works in fresco, oil paint, or marble by well-known masters. But art history can also be understood to encompass a broad range of objects that are experienced visually: films, advertisements, ceramics, posters, and quilts. Art historians study the ways in which artifacts that are experienced visually are composed and constructed, and how they communicate a variety of messages to different groups of people.
At New College, students are expected to acquire a basic familiarity with the major periods and movements of western art. They also become acquainted with the various methods currently practiced by art historians. Approaches to studying the history of art include the traditional object-based analysis of style and subject matter as well as the interpretation of art in its broader cultural context, using a variety of methods ranging from social history to feminist theory. Students are encouraged to pursue their own intellectual interests, arriving at their own definitions of what constitutes “Art” and formulating their own critical approaches to the discipline.
Direct contact with works of art is an essential component of the program. The Ringling Museum of Art, adjacent to New College, provides an excellent library as well as regularly scheduled exhibits, lectures, and films. Numerous local galleries also provide exhibits of major artists, both regional and national. Students are encouraged to undertake museum internships and to pursue opportunities for study and travel abroad. The study of art history may serve as pre-professional training leading to a career in teaching or museum and gallery work. Training in art history has also proved to be valuable preparation for a wide range of careers, including law, business, and the Foreign Service.
The program offers a range of courses and tutorials in each of the major historical periods: Ancient/Medieval, Renaissance/Baroque, and Modern. Representative course offerings in art history include: The Gothic Cathedral; Medieval Women: Art, Gender, and Spirituality; Northern Renaissance Art; Michelangelo and His Era; Major Artists of the Baroque; 19th-Century Painting; The Landscape Depicted; Fin de Siècle; 20th-Century Painting; Modernism and Madness; Images of Women in Modern Art; and Paris of the Impressionists, among others.
For program requirements, click here for the General Catalog.
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