History of Art

Why does the world look the way it does?

That is the very simple question that lies at the heart of the discipline of history of art. It explores this question primarily through works of visual art but increasingly history of art has turned its attention to film, television and other popular media, as well as the built environment.

Study history of art at Edinburgh and you can expect to examine all of these visual media, as well as the traditional art forms of painting, sculpture and printmaking. You can also expect to think about art as a global phenomenon. Even if you’re studying European art, you will find it situated as part of a set of global questions.

History of art is one of the classic humanities disciplines: open-minded, curious, and critical. It provides a great cultural education. Its breadth is underwritten by well-established and rigorous methods. It teaches you how to interpret images and objects of almost every conceivable kind; it teaches you how to write critically, and well, about them; it teaches you how to use photographs and other images to help interpret artworks; and it shows you how to do large-scale independent research, a skill which can be developed to masters and PhD levels and beyond.

Edinburgh has one of the UK’s longest-established and largest groups of art historians. All are researching and publishing at the highest levels. They take public engagement extremely seriously, and many have major public profiles. The city, a UNESCO World Heritage is the home of some of Europe’s most valuable art collections, while it is an important and developing centre for contemporary art, and digital media, especially gaming. You can find our graduates in leadership roles in the arts worldwide: all over the world they curate exhibitions, write about art, and shape culture. Edinburgh is where those careers start.

History of Art news

Lecture will open symposium on major loan exhibition 'Impressionist France. Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet'.

Dr Christian Weikop, a Chancellor’s Fellow in History of Art, has interviewed another major figure of the post-45 German art scene, Georg Baselitz Hon RA.

Dr Frances Fowle co-curates American Impressionism: A New Vision at the Musée des Impressionnismes in Giverny.

Beth Wratislaw, graduate of the MSc in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, has been selected for an internship in Washington, DC.

Last chance to see Taking Shots: The Photography of William S Burroughs, which finishes at The Photographers Gallery on Sunday 30th March

Art of the Actual is commended in the annual Gapper Book Prize in French Studies.

120 participants have attended the Future Bourgeois symposium, performance and panel discussion co-hosted by the ARTIST ROOMS Research Partnership.

History of Art Honorary Professor assists the BBC with identifying lost Edouard Vuillard painting.

'The Museum of Everything' is an imaginary museum created by its visitors over a five day period from 17 to 21 February 2014.

Art in Translation: new issue on African Art

Upcoming History of Art events

29 May 2014
History of Art Postgraduate Research Conference
Lecture Room 270
Old College, University of Edinburgh
11 Jun 2014 to 12 Jun 2014
Beyond Islands: Contemporary Art of Taiwan and East Asia
15:00 to 17:30
Lecture Theatre 1
Minto House