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

Antonia Weir and Rory Lamb tell us about their experience.

Scholarship means a three-year tuition waiver for a History PhD

This year’s History of Art Postgraduate Research Conference had a packed programme, with thirteen postgraduate speakers and a keynote lecturer.

PhD candidate, Kitty Corbet Milward, talks about the joy of discovering thriough chance and instinct.

Dr Patricia Allmer interviewed about her role on Perspectives - The Man in the Hat: Rene Magritte with Will Young.

ECA Chancellor’s Fellow speaks at Expressionism in Germany and France; a major new show at LACMA.

Course delivered by Glyn Davis is one of most successful to date in the arts field

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.

Upcoming History of Art events

29 Sep 2014
"Once upon a time in a deep dark wood..."
13:00 to 14:00
Reynolds Room, Burlington House
Piccadilly
10 Nov 2014
"Anselm Kiefer’s Heroic Symbols: Provocations in Art"
18:30 to 19:30
Reynolds Room, Burlington House
Piccadilly
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