HISTORY OF ART
In the year of our 50th Anniversary, the History of Art Department at UCL is one
of the most dynamic centres for the study of art history and visual cultures in
the world. Our teaching programmes and research move beyond traditional forms of
art history to address visual and material cultures more broadly.
Our 50th Anniversary
Though we retain the designation ‘History of Art’, our teaching programmes and research move beyond traditional forms of art history to address visual and material cultures more broadly. Teaching stretches from the medieval period to the art of today, and the art of all periods is considered in its global context. It also includes new and non-traditional media and contemporary art.
Known for our critical and self-reflexive approach to the subject, we are committed to a wide range of critical and historiographical enquiry, and theoretical rigour is stressed in our programmes at all levels. The problems we address cut across the boundaries of geography, chronology and discipline. Teaching is research-driven, and all staff are research-active.
Materiality has reappeared as a highly contested topic in recent art. Modernist criticism tended to privilege form over matter—considering material as the essentialized basis of medium specificity—and technically based approaches in art history reinforced connoisseurship through the science of artistic materials. But in order to engage critically with the meaning, for example, of hair in David Hammons’s installations, milk in the work of Dieter Roth, or latex in the sculptures of Eva Hesse, we need a very different set of methodological tools.