Return to: College of Arts & Sciences: Departments/Programs
Lindner Center for Art History and Studio Art
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 undergraduate program in art history equips students with the fundamental skills and perspectives of the liberal arts: to think clearly and critically, to write well, and to find, analyze, evaluate, and present facts and ideas. The Art History faculty is committed to training students to become exceptional thinkers and writers, as well as sophisticated interpreters of visual evidence. Students develop rigorous historical understanding of the circumstances and cultural settings in which art has been created and viewed in a curriculum that spans the ancient Mediterranean; South and East Asia; the Italian and Northern Renaissance; medieval, modern, and contemporary Europe; and the United States. Faculty research and teaching introduces students to an expansive range of media: from painting, sculpture, prints and drawings, photography and film, to archaeology, architecture, urbanism, and material culture.
Student learning is animated and amplified by firsthand encounters with objects in the collection of the Fralin Museum, in University Library Special Collections, and by the extraordinary riches of the University’s architectural landscape. Art History offices and seminar rooms are located in Fayerweather Hall, where faculty and students enjoy close proximity to the Fralin Museum, Ruffin Hall and the Studio Art program, the Fine Arts Library, and the School of Architecture. Majors benefit from this vibrant community of contemporary art and architecture, and many take courses in studio art and architectural history.
The undergraduate program is designed both to prepare students for advanced graduate study in the history of art and to provide students with a broad, humanistic background for many other fields that require the ability to undertake independent research, evaluate visual and textual evidence, to write effectively, and create intelligent arguments. Our majors have gone on to thrive in graduate MA and PhD programs in art history and in careers in College and University teaching, museums, and the art market; for others, art history coursework has proven outstanding preparation for a broad range of disciplines, including law, business, and medicine.
Faculty Department faculty 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, a Henry Luce fellowship at the National Humanities Center, 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 an Ailsa Mellon Bruce Senior Fellowship 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 120 students major in art history. Some introductory lecture courses are large; however, many courses are taught as colloquia, with enrollments between 18 and 25 students, and seminars, with enrollment limited to twelve students. The lecture courses are usually survey courses (e.g., Introduction to Classical Archaeology; Baroque Art in Europe; Arts of the Buddhist World - India to Japan; Art Now); the colloquia and seminars usually focus on one or two artists (e.g., Michelangelo, Bosch and Bruegel) or on themes (e.g. Mysteries of Ancient China; The Myth of the Artist; Art History’s Feminisms). The department offers over fifty courses, so there is a wide range of choices available. Independent study options exist, and some majors take 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 214,000 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 UVA is a rigorous undergraduate program committed to professional art training within the context of a liberal arts university. Headed by a faculty of internationally recognized artists and supplemented by an assortment of visiting artists and lecturers, the department provides a strong grounding in the principal art traditions and contemporary studio practice.
The Studio Art major is designed to accommodate students with various interests and abilities. It serves students who expect to become professional artists as well as welcoming those who plan to pursue careers in fields requiring creative, spatial and design abilities. The department offers a variety of courses in cinematography, drawing, new media, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture. Students are encouraged to work in more than one medium over the course of the major in order to expand their creative options. In addition to taking courses across the spectrum of studio art, students are also encouraged to take courses in Art History so that they may acquire knowledge of the wide range of artistic expression and interpretation found in different cultural periods.
Faculty The ten full-time faculty members and a diverse group of adjunct and visiting faculty represent a multiplicity of activities and media. All faculty members are active professional artists with exhibitions at museums and galleries across the country and abroad. Among the awards and honors garnered by members of this group are Guggenheim Fellowships, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Professional Fellowships, and Artist’s Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Works by the faculty are in many prestigious museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, 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 Studio Art programs expanded with the completion of Ruffin Hall in 2008. A new building built specifically for Studio Art, Ruffin Hall was designed with the faculty working closely with the architects to design the various studios. All studio art courses have limited enrollment, since the courses are taught in atelier style. All majors, in their final semester, 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, Anthropology, Biology and Psychology are also common. Graduating students are eligible to apply for an Aunspaugh Fifth Year Fellowship. This award allows our top students the opportunity to extend their art practice within the department for one additional year, complete with a studio space and stipend, culminating in an exhibition. Approximately 10 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.