Art History opens up a world where you can read art. I use the word ‘read’ deliberately because to unlock the deeper, complex meaning of art is a skill that goes beyond the pamphlet of an exhibition. By studying Art History you will gain the knowledge to make educated and thoughtful conclusions on art as you will be aware of what came before and after, subtle compositional methods, the nature of the material…and the list goes on. These skills are transferable, meaning you can apply them to work you may not have studied as you can recognise influences, styles and techniques. With this grounding you can feed your curiosity to understand the visual culture around you. This visual culture is by no means limited to art galleries: when I first started studying Art History I was excited about being able to recognise the types of gothic architecture of the churches in my area, or understanding the Greek influences on some of the most iconic buildings today, like the Bank of England and the White House. A fun fact to note is that despite the modern conception antique temples were pure white, new tests reveal they were actually painted in bright colours, like red, blue and green. Therefore modern day imitations of such architecture in white marble show our ignorance on the subject in the 18th century, a time when neo-classical buildings were at the height of fashion and construction.
Why an Art History degree is so current
While the subject is completely relevant to our visual world and will spur on your interest in the subject, there is no better time to be studying Art History. The discipline only originated in the 19th century and is becoming ever more advanced and with the use of high end technology, like x–rays and pigment testing, new discoveries are always being made. Widely accepted theories are being overturned or re-written, such as the painted Greek temples I mentioned earlier. As you can gather, Art History is a fluid subject where there are many different opinions, theories and critical analysis that constantly taking place. There is a real sense of academic ambition that comes with the subject and engages those studying it. This is a truly academic subject and rather than referring to the painting as your starting point, you realise the painting is only a product of the social, economic and political, backdrop it is placed in, and the style only makes up a small part of your study.
Why an Art History Qualification will serve you well
If this hasn’t convinced you, there is no better time to be carrying an Art History qualification. The art market is a new and expanding industry with global players expanding beyond Europe and America, as we now see with China’s auction houses worth billions.
The art world is only going to get bigger with art still reaching record prices at auction and further niche industries being created, such as the need for specialist art lawyers. Indeed, there are a wide range of jobs that this subject will give you the skills to do ranging from curator, dealer, archivist, researcher and specialist, to name just a few. Art History allows you to develop your visual and critical awareness, problem-solving ability and time management skills. You will also have developed effective written and oral communication skills, be adept at analysing and interpreting information from a range of sources, and be able to work independently.