Lindner Center for Art History
McIntire Department of Art
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400130
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4130
(434) 924-6123 Fax: (434) 924-3647
History of Art
Overview A painting, sculpture, or building is a monument surviving from the past, bearing the imprint of its creator and its time. The discipline of art history seeks to order and interpret these monuments; it seeks to discover their special characteristics and the value of the age in which they were created. For example, the work of Van Gogh would be examined in terms of his place in the Post-Impressionist generation of artists and his life in a period of religious revivals. The discipline defines the cultural currents of a period, and provides a context for understanding, appreciating, and enjoying art.
The department provides its students with the skills and perspectives of the liberal arts; to think clearly, to write well, and to find, analyze, evaluate, and present facts and ideas. It also provides students with a broad, humanistic background, an advantageous resource among the disciplines of law, business, and medicine. Students often combine art history with a major in one of these respective areas.
The major also soundly prepares students for graduate study. Professional careers in art history including teaching (most often at the college level), museum work, and work in the art market, usually require additional study at the graduate level leading to the M.A. and Ph.D.
Faculty The sixteen full-time faculty members are renowned for their teaching ability and scholarship. Among the many honors presented to the faculty are Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, visiting Senior Fellowships at the Getty Center for the Arts and Humanities, election to the Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Mellon Professorship at the American Academy in Rome, and a Mellon Professorship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. Each student is given the opportunity to work closely with one or more of these distinguished professors.
Students Approximately 100 students major in art history. Some introductory lecture courses are large; however, many courses are taught as seminars, with enrollment limited to twelve students. The lecture courses are usually survey courses (e.g., Baroque Art in Europe; Buddhist Art from India to Japan; Modern Art); the seminars usually focus on one or two artists (e.g., Michelangelo, Bosch and Bruegel) or on themes. The department offers over thirty courses, so there is a wide range of choices available. Independent study options exist, and some majors take several courses in studio art as well. Courses in architectural history offered by the School of Architecture count toward the major.
Special Resources The University of Virginia Art Museum encourages participation in its activities by art history majors and students in general. The Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library is a specialized collection of approximately 190,000 volumes and provides research and study space as well as research assistance by its trained staff. An extensive collection of digital images is also available.
Overview Studio Art at the University of Virginia is a rigorous, pre-professional program leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree. The department attempts to give students instruction in the basic skills and application in the following areas: drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, electronic media, contemporary media, and techniques. Courses also seek to acquaint the student with the concerns and issues of visual art through practical studio experience.
The art department’s studio major is a liberal arts program designed to accommodate students with various interests and abilities, serving those who expect to become professional artists and welcoming those who are mainly interested in art as an avocation or as a means toward aesthetic fulfillment. Students are also encouraged to take courses in the history of art so that they may acquire knowledge of pictorial meaning and the wide range of artistic expression and interpretation found in different cultural periods. Students who wish to do intensive work in a single area may work in project courses which provide both flexibility and faculty feedback.
Faculty There are eight faculty members in the department. One of the department’s strengths is the diversity of interests among the faculty. Each faculty member has had highly successful exhibitions at numerous galleries across the country such as the Tatistcheff Gallery in New York, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C., and the Fine Gallery in Princeton. Among the awards and honors garnered by members of this group is a recent Virginia Commission of the Arts Award for printmaking and sculpture, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Professional Fellowship, and an Artist’s Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Works by the faculty are in many prestigious museum collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The faculty make themselves easily accessible to their students, serving as mentors in and out of the classroom.
Students Each year, approximately sixty students major in studio art. As there is not a graduate program, all courses are taught by faculty. All studio art courses have limited enrollment, since the courses are taught in atelier style. All majors, in their fourth year, are required to complete a senior exhibition. Many students in studio art are double majors. Art history is the most obvious choice for a second major, though English and psychology are also common. Approximately 20 percent of the majors go on to graduate work within the fine arts. Placement has been good, including admission to top national programs. Other students seek graduate work in related fields, including graphic and fashion design, medical illustration, art therapy, illustration, museum work, gallery management, advertising design, and teaching.