There are many excellent free art history courses available online. For those looking to delve into modern and postmodern art, Modern and Postmodern Art and Architecture on Coursera covers a range of topics from the 1960s to the present day. For a different perspective, the Philosophy of Art course on Coursera explores different philosophical discussions about the definition and value of art. To learn about painting, the Painting the Landscape: A Global Perspective course explores the cultural and historical contexts of landscape painting from around the world. To study the art of ancient Rome, check out the Roman Art and Archaeology course. To learn about classical mythology, the <a Classical Mythology – The Greek and Roman Myths class can provide an in-depth examination of classical mythological stories and characters.
The Modern and Contemporary Art and Design Specialization from MoMA is an excellent beginner's course for those interested in learning about art history. The course provides a comprehensive overview of modern and contemporary art, including points of discussion on prominent art movements, emerging practices, and the work of major artists. Additionally, the Modern Art Ideas, Roman Architecture, and Contemporary Art courses are all excellent ways for beginners to gain an understanding of foundational art history topics. For those looking to take a deeper dive, students can pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from Georgetown University.
For those looking to study advanced art history courses, Coursera has options available online. For example, the course Wonders of Ancient Egypt examines the evolution of the ancient Egyptian culture. Additionally, the course Intro to Ancient Egypt covers the history of ancient Egyptian society, art, and religion. For those interested in Spanish culture, Burgos & Deciphering Secrets of Medieval Spain and Toledo & Deciphering Secrets of Medieval Spain provide insight into the history of the Iberian Peninsula. Finally, the course Intellectual Change in Early China - the Warring States and Han Periods details the cultural and intellectual changes within ancient China.
Art history is the study of works of art in the context of the time period in which they were created. This genre of study explores the development of painting, sculpture, multimedia, and other visual art forms through time. Art historians do more than work with timelines of various works of art—they study the trends, stylistic choices, and imagery that defined the art of different periods of time. When you study art history, you're also analyzing the concepts of beauty and aesthetics as they change and develop over time. Because the visual arts are reflections of the times in which they appear, art history ties in with the general study of history. Art historians can see what artists had to say about the events that characterized the time when they lived by analyzing their works.
Studying art history is important because it helps you understand art more clearly and unlocks knowledge of historical periods more than just studying people, dates, and events can. It's a helpful and enlightening companion to the study of historical facts and events. Art history examines how creative minds sought to portray their understanding of the world in their time, and your study of art history can help you grasp how artists viewed their past, what they thought about their present, and what they guessed about the future. You can gain a better idea of what artists wanted future generations to know about that period in history, and art history can deepen your understanding of history in general. Additionally, the study of art history can help you develop better critical thinking skills, particularly when it comes to visual cues.
When you study art history through online courses on Coursera, you can gain knowledge of how artists thought and worked throughout various periods. Online courses help you explore subjects like the artistic design of cathedrals, the secrets of medieval illuminated manuscripts, and the styles and techniques of postwar abstract painters.