How do we interpret the narrative imagery of an Ancient Near Eastern sculptural relief? Why did the Spanish artist Salvador Dalí paint pictures in a dreamlike Surrealistic manner? These are examples of the types of questions art historians ask and try to answer by studying the visual arts of both the distant and more recent past. They seek to understand the cultural values expressed in a work of art, and to show how the latter fits into a larger context or tradition to which individual artists belong. The result is that a painting, statue, building, or piece of jewelry comes to life and gives us a fresh insight into mankind’s ever-changing experience and ways of seeing the world.
Students are taught to think critically and do research, learn theoretical aspects of this field, and express themselves effectively in written and oral form. Several of our courses contribute to interdisciplinary programs in Classical Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, Women’s Studies, and Italian Studies. The major in Art History must be accompanied by a minor, which can be in any number of fields.
Points of Pride
- Art history is one of the majors housed in PAO Hall of Visual and Performing Arts, a state-of-the-art facility built specifically for the visual and performing arts at Purdue.
- The program provides students with a solid and comprehensive training through some 20 differentcourses that cover all major periods in the western sphere from ancient to modern, as well as non-western topics such as Asian, Islamic, Latin American, and African art.
- The program focuses on undergraduate education so there are many opportunities for undergraduate students to work and interact with faculty members.
- Every semester, the art history program organizes field trips to museums in the region, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art or the Cincinnati Museum of Art.
- The Art History Student Organization (AHSO) plans field trips, brings guest speakers, organizes professional development workshops, and facilitates networking amongst art history majors and minors.
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- Art consulting
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