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HomeArt ProgramsMajor Degrees → Art History & Criticism

Art History & Criticism - Requirements

This track is designed for those who plan to pursue careers as art historians, critics, or staff members of museums or galleries. This track consists of nine course units and is built on the foundation of the common core of four courses.

Core Courses

ART 113. Global Perspectives in Art History to the Renaissance

The basic problems of the development of Western art are considered in terms of the major civilizations and epochs that produced them from ancient civilization to the Renaissance. Also introduces Non-Western art, such as African, Asian, Islamic, Judaic, Aboriginal (Australia and New Zealand), and Art of the Americas. (Fall.)

ART 142. Visual Foundations

Visual Foundations: Composition, Color and Design is a guided investigation of basic concepts and techniques of visual organization. The course will address both the theory and application of two-dimensional design and color using a variety of concepts, media, and techniques. Through a series of weekly projects, students will develop awareness of the formal elements of composition, a working knowledge of fundamental design principles, and an understanding of the interrelationship between form and content. The formal elements of design include line, shape, value, color, and space and principles of organization – harmony, variety, balance, proportion, scale, dominance, movement, and economy. Learning to analyze one's own work and the work of others is as important a skill as making the work. Students will learn and use the appropriate vocabulary necessary to verbalize their creative process and critical thinking.

ART 170. Drawing I

Skills and critical understanding of the fundamentals of drawing: composition, perspective, value, and balance are developed through rendering the observed world. Students engage in the pictorial issues of drawing, in particular the relation of subject and context. These fundamentals should be taught in context with a pictorial language, rather than elements of abstract design. (Fall and Spring)

ART 180. Painting I

Emphasis on investigation as related to historical, individual, and creative problems of space, composition, structure, and image. (Fall)

Additional Required Courses

ART 114. Art History Since the Renaissance

Study of the major movements in Western art from the Renaissance to the present. (Spring)

ART 218. Art of the Renaissance

The development and growth of art in Italy and northern Europe from the thirteenth through the sixteenth centuries. Prerequisite: ART 113, ART 114 or permission of instructor. (Fall, alternate years)


ART 229. Modern Art (Writing Intensive)

Development of European and American Art from the Post-Impressionists (1890s) to Pop Art (1960s). Prerequisite: ART 113, ART 114 or permission of instructor.

ART 310. Art History Methodology: Criticism, Theory, and Practice

What is it you want to know about a work of art? Who made it? What’s it about? When and where was it made? Why was it made? Is it good or bad art? The questions that you ask, and how you go about finding the answers, lead straight to the issue of methodology. This course will survey the major art historians, the questions they asked (and the answers they proposed), from the “who” of biology through the “what” of iconography to the “when, where, why” of social history, Marxism and feminism. Special emphasis is placed on the development of formal analysis and criticism. Additional topics include connoisseurship and contemporary exhibition practices. The goal of the course is to become familiar with the development of the discipline of art history and its theoretical underpinnings. Class format is lecture and discussion. Prerequisites; AR 113, Art History to the Renaissance and AR 114, Art History Since the Renaissance. (Spring, alternate years)

At Least One Additional Art History Course is Required

ART 212. Artists as Activists

(Also Interdisciplinary 212). How do artists, writers and graphic designers raise ethical questions and advocate social change? Global examples of visual culture will include propaganda, graphic design, film, and theater. Relationships between art, images, mass media, and acts of conscience will be evaluated using ethical/philosophical frameworks and formal and contextual analysis. Discussion will include historical, social, and political context of art, its method of production and distribution, and its inherent privileges or risks. (U2) Prerequisites: Junior or senior class standing. (Fall and Spring)


ART 220. History of Photography

A study of the major aesthetic concepts and technical developments of photography from its invention to the present. Prerequisite: ART 113, ART 114 or permission of instructor. (Fall, alternate years)


ART 222. African Art

(Also Interdisciplinary 222) Students will develop an aesthetic and cultural overview of African art, from prehistory to the present day. Sculpture is the primary medium studied in the course, but textiles, painting, artisanal works and architecture are also included. Students will consider how religion and cultural influences affect the development of regional and national styles. The influence of the African diaspora on art in Europe, Latin America, and the United States will be considered. Students will acquire the critical vocabulary required to analyze and interpret African art, and apply it in both discussion and writing. (M5) (Spring)

ART 226. Art of the 19th Century

The development of art from the Romantic and Neo-Classical periods through the Post-Impressionists. Prerequisite: ART 113, ART 114 or permission of instructor. (Spring, alternate years)

Independent Study

Special Topics