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, of course, 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 taught in a global context.

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 Site is the home of some of Europe’s most valuable art collections as well as one of the UK's liveliest contemporart art scenes. You will find Edinburgh has great strengths in digital media too, 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 Frances Fowle and Dr Heather Pulliam contributed to the display on Celtic art and identity

Announcing the details of the eight History of Art Research Seminars scheduled for the first semester of 2015 - 2016.

Professor Richard Thomson's role on 'Splendour and Misery'

Ruth Burgon and Stella Mygdali reflect on their experience of hosting an afternoon of urban exploration in Edinburgh.

How an interest in medieval 'recycling' in art led to an AHRC-funded PhD

The artist, performer and producer bringing Good Punch to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Funding will allow Cole Collins to explore the Kurt Schwitters Archive in Hannover, Germany

Welcome celebration takes place in relocated John Higgitt Gallery in the Hunter Building.

Loyal exchange: the material and visual culture of Jacobite exile, 1716-60

Drawings by Joseph Beuys in the Collection of ARTIST ROOMS: Cataloguing, Analysis and Contextualisation

Upcoming History of Art events

15 Oct 2015
History of Art Research Seminar: Emanuele Lugli
Lecture Theatre
Hunter Building
22 Oct 2015
History of Art Research Seminar: Kate Sloan
Lecture Theatre
Hunter Building
26 Oct 2015
Carving a Career in Art
17:30 to 20:30
Playfair Library
Old College
05 Nov 2015
History of Art Research Seminar: Andrew Patrizio
Lecture Theatre
Hunter Building
12 Nov 2015
History of Art Research Seminar: Rachel King
Lecture Theatre
Hunter Building