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

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

Funding for History of Art research into radical visual arts pedagogies.

Editors awarded three grants totalling $152,000 from the Getty Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Thursdays at 5.15pm in Lecture Room 1, Minto House, 20 Chambers St (unless otherwise indicated)

Enhancing the University Art Collections with a contemporary focus on art and globalisation.

The University Collections’ new website aims to make the work more accessible

A student-run organisation providing academic and social support to those either studying or with an interest in the History of Art.

Barry Esson and Bryony McIntyre, also known as Arika, join for this academic year.

Upcoming History of Art events

05 Feb 2015
A Potted History of Festivals and Festival Making
Lecture Room 1, Minto House
10 Feb 2015
Café des Artistes: Francesca Woodman
Fruitmarket Gallery
45 Market Street
12 Feb 2015
Shadows of Herself: Lee Miller’s Collage
Lecture Room 1, Minto House
20-22 Chambers Street
17 Feb 2015
Screening of "Experimental Histories: Queer Lives on Film"
17:00 to 18:00
Minto House, Common Room
20-22 Chambers Street
19 Feb 2015
Visions and Revisions: John Duncan’s Celtic Revival
Lecture Room 1, Minto House
Minto House