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

Dr Patricia Allmer awarded grants for forthcoming publication about the photographer and model

Meet the students involved in the ‘Rediscover’ exhibitions at Talbot Rice Gallery.

Matthias Pfaller will travel to California to work in the Department of Photographs

ECA hosts regular and varied seminars which are run by both academics based at the college and people from further afield.

The first issue of "Canvas" will be released in September 2015

“The Image of the Black in Western Art” praised by New York Times and PROSE Award

An exhibition exploring how art education developed at Edinburgh College of Art during the 20th Century.

The ARTIST ROOMS Research Partnership invites students to participate in an exhibition inspired by the work of Roy Lichtenstein.

History of Art staff member receives award at a French Ministry of Culture ceremony.

Dr Catriona Murray explains the role of propaganda in 17th-century visual culture

Upcoming History of Art events

14 Mar 2015 to 02 May 2015
Rediscover: The Torrie Collection
10:00 to 17:00
Talbot Rice Gallery
Old College
02 Apr 2015
Derek Jarman Gets Medieval
Lecture Room 1, Minto House
20-22 Chambers Street
08 Apr 2015
Clips: An Evening with Martin Creed
18:00 to 20:00
Stills Gallery
23 Cockburn Street
09 Apr 2015 to 11 Apr 2015
The Art History of Architectural History
9:00 to 17:00
Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts
University of East Anglia
29 Apr 2015 to 27 Aug 2015