Debunking Misconceptions about History of Art
First of all, what is History of Art. According to the Warwick History of Art breakdown,the degree places a focus on the non-verbal ways in which people understand their surroundings. Art and history are intertwined to identify particular movements within art, and the history of how they emerged and dissipated.
As a History of Art undergraduate, it is so common for people to ask what the degree entails or make certain judgements about it. I am here to completely debunk these stereotypes:
‘There aren’t any useful skills to take away’- In fact there are so many transferable and unique skills that Art History can provide you will. Visual literacy is something that is fundamental to the degree, enabling us to be able to take apart a work of art visually into its fundamental features. In a world where visual literacy is becoming more and more crucial, with social media on the rise and more and more instructions becoming illustrated; this skill is vital. As well as this, as a written subject, we learn how to coherently form an argument as well as read scholarly articles; helping us to become more articulate.
‘There’s not enough jobs in the careers sector’- Whilst the sector is definitely underfunded, this does not at all mean there are no jobs for History of Art graduates. In fact, using the transferable skills that I have mentioned can enable you to be fit for a vast array of jobs. As well as this, being a curator isn’t the only job for graduates, within a gallery there is such a variety of jobs to choose from. These include working in the education, fundraising and administrative teams. Not only this, but roles within museums and galleries have multiple spaces for one role as they are such large institutions. Alternatively another path to take is through auction houses such as Christies and Sotherby’s. Ultimately, there are more than enough jobs for art history graduates through the vast array of organisations and institutions that have been established or are emerging.
‘It’s a “private school” degree’- There’s a common misconception (which I also had a few years before coming to Warwick) that History of Art is reserved for the upper class. It is definitely an understandable misconception as the a-level itself is offered in very few state schools but most private schools. However, the diversity of the course completely undermines this idea. Within my year group, there is a range of people from state and private schools as well as people educated with an art foundation. No matter your background or where you are from, Art History is a valuable subject and if you are passionate about it you should pursue it.
‘Art is limited to painting’- Whilst not a common misconception as people are mostly aware that sculpture and architecture are also largely part of History of Art, there are still a few things to clear up. Firstly, art includes videos and films, as cinematography is a creative process. One cool fact is that Art Historians play a part in films, especially historical ones like Waterloo which used paintings as reference. Secondly, Art History is not limited to Western art, and whilst it does still take up a vast amount of the curriculum there is so much to explore with Eastern Art. Lastly, with so many different art forms, there are also so many genres too. This means, if you like architecture, there are still thousands of years of different styles to cover so there is no limit.
Whilst History of Art isn’t a subject for everyone, I hope this got rid of any misconceptions you had about the subject as it is so much more than what it appears to be! 🙂