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Art History | Studio Art
History of Art
Overview A painting, a sculpture, or a building is a monument surviving from the past, bearing the imprint of its creator and its time. The discipline of art history seeks to order and interpret these monuments; it seeks to discover their special characteristics and the value of the age in which they were created. For example, the work of Van Gogh would be examined in terms of his place in the Post-Impressionist generation of artists and his life in a period of religious revivals. The discipline defines the cultural currents of a period, and provides a context for understanding, appreciating, and enjoying art.
The department provides its students with the skills and perspectives of the liberal arts; to think clearly, to write well, and to find, analyze, evaluate, and present facts and ideas. It also provides students with a broad, humanistic background, an advantageous resource among disciplines such as law, business, and medicine. Students often combine art history with a major in one of these respective areas.
The major also soundly prepares students for graduate study. Professional careers in art history including teaching (most often at the college level), museum work, and work in the art market, usually require additional study at the graduate level leading to the M.A. and Ph.D.
Faculty The thirteen full-time faculty members are renowned for their teaching ability and scholarship. Among the many honors presented to the faculty are Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, a visiting Senior Fellowship at the Getty Center for the Arts and Humanities, election to the Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Mellon Professorship at the American Academy in Rome, and a Mellon Professorship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. Each student is given the opportunity to work closely with one or more of these distinguished professors.
Students Approximately 100 students major in art history. Some introductory lecture courses are large; however, many courses are taught as seminars, with enrollment limited to fifteen students. The lecture courses are usually survey courses (e.g., Baroque Art in Europe; Buddhist Art from India to Japan; Modernist Art); the seminars usually focus on one or two artists (e.g., Michelangelo, Bosch and Bruegel). The department offers over thirty courses, so there is a wide range of choices available. Independent study options exist, and most majors take several courses in studio art as well. Students are also encouraged to take courses in architectural history offered by the School of Architecture.
The Bayly Museum of Art encourages participation in its activities by art history majors and students in general.
The Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library is a specialized collection of over 100,000 volumes and provides research and study space as well as research assistance by its trained staff.
Requirements for Major There are no prerequisites for entry into the department, but most students declare a major in art history after taking one or more of the department's introductory survey courses (ARTH 101, 102 and 103). None of these courses, however, is required for majors. Each year a seminar (ARTH 201) is offered for students interested in majoring in art history. This seminar may consider the work of individual artists or particular problems or themes in art history.
For a degree in art history, students must complete 30 credits above the 100 level. Courses taken at any time during the student's career can be counted, including those earned while studying abroad, in summer session, or in architectural history courses. By the time of graduation, a student must have achieved a minimum GPA of 2.0 in major courses. (A student who does not maintain an average of 2.0 or better in departmental courses will be put on probation, and may be dropped from the program.) No course graded below C- may count for major credit.
Distribution Requirements At least one course in each area (Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Modern, Asian); a minimum of two seminars (ARTH 201 or ARTH 491); one course in studio art; two electives within the department; two related courses offered by other departments (i.e., in addition to the 30 departmental credits). Related courses should be selected to complement the student's work in art history.
Requirements for the Minor There are no prerequisites for a minor in art history. A student must complete 15 credits in the department, beyond the 100 level. Courses taken at any time during the student's career may be counted toward the minor. At the time of graduation, a student must have achieved a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor courses.
Minors must take at least one course in four of the five areas: Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Modern, and Asian. One additional course is required, and this should be selected from advanced lecture courses at the 300- 500 level, or sections of ARTH 491 (Art History seminar).
Minors are also required to take at least one course outside the department which is related to an area in art history of special interest to them. This course will be chosen in consultation with the undergraduate advisor.
The Distinguished Majors Program in Art History To majors who wish to be considered for a degree of "distinction," "high distinction," or "highest distinction" in art history, the department offers a program of advanced courses and research culminating in a thesis of approximately fifty pages. Students should ordinarily apply for admission to the program by the first class day in April of their third year. To apply, students must submit a thesis proposal and have the approval of a faculty member to direct their research. A GPA of 3.4 in major courses and a cumulative GPA at or near 3.4 are required for admission. Application should be made to the undergraduate advisors for art history. In their fourth year, students in the program are required to take at least two courses at the 400 or 500 level and to enroll in ARTH 497, 498 (Distinguished Majors Program Thesis). These are evaluated by a committee chaired by the undergraduate advisors that also considers (1) the student's work in the Distinguished Majors Program based on the evaluations of teachers in the students' advanced courses; (2) the students' performance in major courses and; (3) the students' overall GPA. The committee recommends either no distinction, distinction, high distinction, or highest distinction, and passes on its recommendation to the Committee on Special Programs.
Additional Information For more information, contact the Undergraduate Advisor, McIntire Department of Art, Fayerweather Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22903; (804) 924- 6123; Fax: (804) 924-3647.
Continue to: Course Descriptions
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