How to Study Art History

Study Art History

How to Study Art History. Art history is the study of sculpture, painting, architecture, photography and film throughout the ages. Art history examines the cultural, religious and philosophical attitudes of each time period and how works of art were formed within the social confines of the day. Many colleges offer art history courses, or you can study it more informally on your own.

Browse catalogs from colleges and universities that offer an art history course of study. Decide if you want to earn a degree in art history or just take a few classes.

Apply to the college you have chosen in order to begin your study of art history. If you want to take a few classes without earning a degree, find out what the admissions procedure entails.

Enroll in a survey course as your first class in art history. Survey courses present a broad overview of, or introduction to, the subject matter. This type of class gives you a taste of each period in art history and can help you decide which higher level courses you will want to take.

Select the time periods you want to study. Degree programs in art history usually require you to take 3 out of 4 time periods, ranging from ancient to medieval, Renaissance and modern.

Broaden your horizons by studying the history of non-Western art in addition to your Western and American art classes. Take a class about the history of Asian or African art.

Get a feel for what it is like to create art by taking a studio art class. Some universities require their art history majors to obtain credits in studio art as a complement to the art history curriculum.

Put art history in context with the rest of the world. Enroll in philosophy, world history or literature classes that coincide with the art history time periods you are studying. This will help you better understand what inspired the artists.

Visit local art galleries and museums. Study the collections and the artists to learn more about art history than just what is in your textbooks. Apply for any available internships as a possible way to earn academic credit.


Think about taking an art history survey course before vacationing in Europe or Asia. Visiting some of the world's most famous museums can be very satisfying and less overwhelming if you have some knowledge about the paintings and sculptures you are seeing.

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