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Semester 2: Study Art History With Us

Study at the University of Sydney with our world-renowned scholars and award-winning teachers in partnership with key cultural institutions on campus and across Sydney. If you are a current art history or Sydney College of the Arts student or interested in studying Art History we have a study pathway for you. Visit the Art History Discipline Site today. Take advantage of the international programs and events of the Power Institute and study in the Schaeffer Fine Arts Library. Study objects of art in the Chau Chak Wing Museum, Sydney College of the Arts Galleries or Verge Gallery on campus, at galleries and institutions across Sydney, or in Fieldwork intensives in Berlin or Paris.

Art is a profound and persistent human impulse. Art History explores the history of making, viewing and experiencing works of art and architecture. It asks key questions such as 'what is art for?', 'what does art mean?' and 'how does art function in broader culture?' These questions will be part of a dynamic encounter with complex and compelling works of art.

Berlin Fieldwork 2019



Shock of the Now: Global Art since 1900 ARHT1002

Teamtaught by Associate Professor Donna Brett, Dr Yvonne Low, and others.

Art shapes our cities, streets, galleries, phones and minds. It is now made with every conceivable material, and sometimes none at all. It shocks, challenges, soothes, entertains, engrosses and overwhelms us. This unit charts the history of Modern and Contemporary Art across the world, as it is shaped by and shapes society, politics and environment. It shows current concerns in art , with materials, landscape, self-image, politics, and the body are grounded in a century of global experiment.

Why Art Matters ARHT2680 CORE UNIT

Why Art Matters explores the importance of art in the world, through object-based seminars, lectures and student led presentations. It asks why art is so fundamental to human experience, and how we might study it and articulate its importance. It builds key art historical skills of recognition, analysis, interpretation and expression, and introduces students to a wide variety of different material objects and artworks. The course is taught in small group streams, largely in the Chau Chak Wing museum and will help all majoring art history students build confidence and skill in researching, analysing and communicating about art.

Fashion and Dress: Past and Present ARHT2674

This unit offers an introduction to the study of dress through the discussion of major theories and methodologies that inform current scholarship in the field. With a focus on designers, wearers and cultural practices of dressing the body, the unit will question how dress communicates as a form of visual expression.

Mary specialises in nineteenth-century British and Ottoman art with particular expertise in Orientalism, the history of artistic exchanges between the Ottoman Empire and Europe and the culture of travel.

First Nations Art ARHT3679 NEW UNIT

TERRA VISITING PROFESSOR Gerald McMaster This unit explores the range and depth of First Nations Art globally with special attention to the Indigenous Art and visual culture of Australia and North America. It is designed to explore not only the material and formal features of First Nations' art but the social, cultural and spiritual traditions in which it is embedded and the understandings of time, space and country that inform First Nations art. It also explores the debates that have surrounded the notion and definition of "First Nations" art in recent years.

Dr Gerald McMaster is a TERRA Visiting Professor in 2023. Dr. McMaster is a leading voice nationally and internationally, with over 40 years of experience in contemporary art, critical theory, museology and Indigenous aesthetics. He is a Tier 1 Canadian Research Chair at OCAD University and Director of Wapatah Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge. In 2022, Dr. Gerald McMaster has been named by The Canada Council as the recipient of the 2022 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts for his Outstanding Contribution. He is Plains Cree from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation and a citizen of the Siksika Nation.

Text, Image, Sound: Islamic Book Arts ARHT3678

This unit provides a thematic study of historical and contemporary book arts in the Islamic world, drawing on the art of painting and calligraphy as well as key texts to engage with the foundational interrelations between text, image, orality and other forms of sensory experience. Starting with early Qur’ans, we move to pre-modern illustrated manuscripts, and modern and contemporary works of art inspired by manuscript cultures, exploring histories of authorship, portraiture, patronage, workshop practices, audience and perception, as well as the collecting and display of manuscripts in museums. Several site visits to Sydney’s various collections offer opportunities for object-based learning.

Peyvand trained as an architect and art historian specialising in medieval and early modern art and architecture from the Islamic world. Her research interests are in arts of Sufism, the interaction of image, space, and text, Indian Ocean studies, and the mobility of artistic and intellectual networks within and beyond the Persianate world.

Art and the Aesthetics of the Everyday ARHT3673

Students study contemporary and historical art made in response to the ebb and flow of daily life and the material conditions of the street, the city, and the home. They study key texts of the art and politics of the everyday and topics related to the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century theory and practice. Students will focus on artists who heighten awareness of the banal and mundane, of the detritus of life, of gendered distinctions between home and city, and the paradoxical revelation of the marvelous in the everyday.


Honours in Art History focuses on establishing your individual research practice, further equipping you for employment or entry into the Master of Arts, Master of Philosophy or Doctor of Philosophy programs.

Vision and Frame: Art Encounters ARHT4114

This unit extends and tests students' art historical knowledge and analytic skills through in situ encounters with a variety of art objects and images, histories and traditions. These encounters are set against selected polemical texts and disputes in the discipline. Our weekly engagements range from the museum's modernist aesthetic hang, media specific exhibitions, de-materialised art projects, curated exhibitions, popular culture, Indigenous Australian and Chinese art.

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