Art historians study the ways in which artworks and artifacts shape and are shaped by their historical context(s).
About the Art History Area of Concentration
Ideas about what counts as art vary across different times and places, and even within particular cultures. While only some forms of human activity are (or have been) viewed as art, human beings are united by the desire to respond to and represent their existence in creative ways that transcend strictly utilitarian purposes. Art history offers a range of tools and lenses for analyzing the varied forms and functions of this creative drive, and therefore for understanding the global, interconnected cultures in which we live. Art history is no longer limited to its traditional focus on the fine arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture, and now encompasses other artifacts of material culture, such as ceramics, textiles, or advertisements, as well as postmodern and contemporary artworks that are more about concepts or relationships than material objects. Art historians study the ways in which these artworks and artifacts shape and were shaped by their historical context(s). By looking at how cultures in different time periods have defined, experienced, and participated in artistic activity, art history students develop an informed understanding of human creativity and diversity, while sharpening their skills in visual and verbal analysis. They are encouraged to develop and pursue their own intellectual interests, formulating their own critical approaches to the material and arriving at their own definitions of what constitutes “art.”
With these goals in mind, the area of concentration in art history emphasizes: 1) coursework that, grounded in the study of specific time periods, promotes historical awareness and some chronological breadth of knowledge; 2) coursework with a thematic, global, or studio art focus; 3) a theory and method course that introduces students to a variety of critical frameworks central to art history (including, but not limited to, social history, semiotics, feminist and gender theory, critical race and post-colonial theory, and globalization); 4) foreign language study; and 5) the application of art historical knowledge in the context of an internship. Students are also encouraged to pursue opportunities for study and travel abroad.
Direct contact with artworks and artifacts and applied, hands-on learning is an essential component of the program. The Ringling Museum of Art, adjacent to New College, is a particularly rich source of these kinds of experiences, but students also benefit from opportunities at institutions like the Sarasota Art Museum and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Students can deepen their engagement with museums even further by combining an area of concentration in Art History with a secondary field in Museum Studies.
Modernism in the Visual Arts: 1900-1940ARTH 3665
In addition to various forms of graduate study and museum and gallery work, New College students with a degree in art history successfully pursue a wide range of careers, including in education, arts administration, library and information science, law, business, and the foreign service. Fields and career paths particularly suited to art history graduates include:
- Graduate study in art history and related fields like museum studies, library and information science, and education.
- Museum and gallery work
- Arts administration
- Visual resources curation
- Art consulting
- Art and estate appraisal
- Interior and set design
- Website design