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History of Art

Why study History of Art?

There’s so much more to the study of History of Art than admiring the aesthetics of an object.

This course develops a student’s understanding of the relationship between society and art; art historical terms, concepts and issues; the influence of cultural, social and political factors as well as developments in materials, techniques and processes of both art and architecture. History of Art is a way of unlocking the past through material culture and explores cultural comment on pertinent and topical subject matter, such as identity and gender. It enables students to connect their other A Level studies and their artistic interests in a culturally interesting subject. The Edexcel syllabus has been well conceived to provide students with a thoughtful programme of study and introduce them to theoretical and historiographical skills they would require for the discipline at undergraduate level.

The course will be taught by Dr C Easterbrook and Dr P Easterbrook, both of whom hold doctorates in the History of Art and have taught the subject at university level.

Who should study History of Art?

You do not have to have any background in Art or History, although a good level of literacy (English Literature or History) at GCSE would be necessary. An interest in the subject is essential!

The subject would be appeal to artists who wish to expand their cultural understanding to benefit their practical work; Historians who wish to develop their evaluative skills; English Literature students who wish to complement their literary analytical skills; Philosophy students who wish to give practical vent to their classroom studies, and so on. Students of Art History go on to a number of Post A Level directions; they may study History of Art at University with a mind to a career in academia, museum curatorship, or museum education. However, the subject also attracts students who wish to pursue Fine Art, Design and especially Architecture. As a subject at A Level and beyond it works well with European modern languages, thus allowing students the potential to undertake courses with a year abroad. Those who are interested in a degree in a Humanities subject will also find the skills of interpretation, evaluation and analysis particularly useful. Like History, the History of Art is also a subject with a vast array of transferable skills which are valuable for whatever route students wish to follow after they leave The Langton.

What will you study?

The course is divided into thematic and period sections taught over the two years. Students will study:

  • Identities in art and architecture
  • War in art and architecture
  • Invention and illusion: The Renaissance in Italy (1420-1520)
  • Rebellion and revival: The British and French Avant-Garde (1848-99)

Although to place these themes and periods in context a broader understanding of the wider History of Art will be taught.

How is it examined?

The exam is formed of two three hour papers, each worth 50% of the total marks.

Paper 1: 3 compulsory questions requiring the student to employ their visual analysis skills on a painting, a sculpture and a building.

Students will then answer questions on both Identity and War in art and architecture. They will discuss these issues in relation to specific works they have studied and critical texts they have read.

Paper 2: Students will answer 4 questions on each of the topic areas they have studied (The Renaissance and the 19th Century Avant-Garde).

The questions are a range of short and longer answers requiring the students to demonstrate their knowledge of the period and the works of art they have studied from a range of paintings, sculptures and buildings. They will be expected to show analytical skill within the context of the period and knowledge, and application of, critical texts on the works and period.

What our students say:

George: History of Art is where I was able to observe an intimate portrayal of the past, the investigation of thought and the way people want to be seen; it is both a study of events and a study of society itself.

Ben: I found studying History of Art to be a greatly beneficial experience, as it combines the rich nature of History with the ways in which great figures aimed to represent their power, lifestyle of those around them, religious beliefs and their legacy left to those in the future.