Year 1 unit
This course provides an introductory survey of the history of art from the dawn of civilization to the present. Though an understanding of the European artistic tradition is fundamental to any study of the history of art, it is equally important to allow students to explore the richness of visual traditions from around the globe. With this in mind, this course pays significant attention to the art and architecture of South Asia and Mesoamerica as well as the traditions of the Near East and the Islamic world. In pursuit of this cross-cultural perspective, students examine the formal/stylistic aspects of art as well as the cultural context in which that art was produced. Students become familiar with the principles of design, the processes of artistic production, and the fundamental elements of style in painting, sculpture, architecture, and other contemporary media. Understanding the formal elements of art allows students to explore intelligently the cultural issues surrounding artistic production, such as function, patronage, gender, ethnicity, politics, and religion. In addition to providing a chronological framework for understanding the development of art, the course examines several themes that can be applied across cultures. These themes include sacred spaces, art as propaganda, art and warfare, representations of nature, art as protest, and the self-portrait, among others. Ultimately, this course provides students with the visual literacy they need to understand fully their world. Students interested in taking the AP Art History Exam in May would be expected, in addition to completing all other required elements of the course, to pursue extensive review and additional preparation independently in the spring semester.
Prerequisites: Contemporary World History (H-210)