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Major Code: VA26

The major in art history, theory, and criticism is designed both for students who desire a broadly-based education in the humanities and for those who plan to pursue a career in an art-related profession. In both cases, the foundation for study is proficiency in the languages of artistic expression. Through the study of art history, students learn to treat works of art as manifestations of human belief, thought, and experience in Western and non-Western societies from prehistory to the present day. Courses in criticism review the theoretical approaches which are used to understand artistic achievement. By combining art historical and critical study, the program promotes in the student an awareness of the cultural traditions which have shaped his or her intellectual outlook and provides a framework for informed judgment on the crucial issues of meaning and expression in contemporary society. Majors are encouraged to take relevant courses in allied disciplines such as History, Communication, Anthropology, and Literature, and in such area programs as Classics and Italian Studies. In addition, students who plan to apply to graduate schools are strongly advised to develop proficiency in one or more foreign languages, as is dictated by their area of specialization.



* Indicates Seminar


FOUNDATION LEVEL (5 Courses Required)
VIS 20        Introduction to Art History
VIS 22        Formations of Modern Art
VIS 23*        Information Technologies in Art History

Choose one from:
VIS 21A        Introduction to the Art of the Americas of Africa and Oceania
VIS 21B        Introduction to Asian Art

Choose one from:
VIS 1, 2 OR 3    Introduction to Art-Making
VIS 60           Introduction to Digital Photography
VIS 70N        Introduction to Media

NOTE: Students should attempt to complete VIS 23 by the end of sophomore year or the first time it is offered after declaring as a junior or transferring into the program.


GROUP I:  Required Courses (2 Courses Required)

The following two courses are required of all art history and criticism majors:

VIS 111    Structure of Art
VIS 112*    Art Historical Methods

NOTE: Majors should complete VIS 112 by the end of their junior year and are strongly advised to do so as soon as possible.

GROUP II:  Distributional Requirement (6 Courses Required)

NOTE: Students must complete one from each area, A – F.

A.  European Pre-Modern:  Ancient and Medieval
VIS 120A        Greek Art
VIS 120B        Roman Art
VIS 120C        Late Antique Art
VIS 120D        Prehistoric Art
VIS 121AN    The Idea of Medieval Art
VIS 121B    Castles, Cathedrals and Cities
VIS 121D*    The Illuminated Manuscript in the Middle Ages
VIS 128A    Topics in Pre-Modern Art History
VIS 129A*    Seminar in Pre-Modern Art History

B.  European Early Modern:  Renaissance and Baroque
VIS 122AN    Renaissance Art
VIS 122CN    Defining High Renaissance Art
VIS 122D    Michelangelo
VIS 122F*    Leonardo’s La Gioconda
VIS 123AN    Between Spirit and Flesh: Northern Art of the Early Renaissance
VIS 123BN*    Jan van Eyck
VIS 124AN    Baroque Art
VIS 128B    Topics in Early Modern Art History
VIS 129B*    Seminar in Early Modern Art History

C. Modern and Contemporary
VIS 124BN    Art and the Enlightenment
VIS 124CN    Nineteenth Century Art
VIS 125A    Twentieth Century Art
VIS 125BN    Contemporary Art
VIS 125DN*    Marcel Duchamp
VIS 125F        Latin American Film
VIS 128C    Topics in Modern Art History
VIS 129C*    Seminar in Modern Art History
VIS 158    Histories of Photography
VIS 159/ICAM 150    History of Art and Technology

D.  Arts of the Americas
VIS 126AN    Pre-Columbian Art of Ancient Mexico and Central America
VIS 126BN    The Art and Civilization of the Ancient Maya
VIS 126C*    Problems in Mesoamerican Art History
VIS 126D*    Problems in Ancient Maya Iconography and Inscriptions    
VIS 126HN    Pacific Coast American Indian Art
VIS 126I    Southwest American Indian Art
VIS 126J    African and Afro-American Art
VIS 126K    Oceanic Art
VIS 126P    Latin American Art: Modern to Postmodern (1890-1950)
VIS 126Q    Latin American Art: Modern to Postmodern (1950-Present)
VIS 126R    Latin American Photography
VIS 128D    Topics in Art History of the Americas
VIS 129D*    Seminar in Art History of the Americas

E. Arts of Asia
VIS 127B    Arts of China
VIS 127C    Arts of Modern China
VIS 127D*    Early Chinese Painting
VIS 127E*    Later Chinese Painting
VIS 127F*    Japanese Buddhist Art
VIS 127G*    20th Century Chinese Art
VIS 127N    20th Century Art in China and Japan
VIS 127P    Arts of Japan
VIS 127Q*    Japanese Painting and Prints
VIS 128E    Topics in Art History of Asia
VIS 129E*    Seminar in Art History of Asia

F. Theory
VIS 113BN*    History of Criticism II: Early Twentieth Century (1900-1950)
VIS 113CN*    History of Criticism III:  Contemporary (1950-Present)
VIS 117A*    Narrative Structures
VIS 117B*    Theories of Representation
VIS 117E*    Problems in Ethnoaesthetics
VIS 117F*    Theorizing the Americas
VIS 117G*    Visual Theory and Practice since 1980
VIS 117H    Constructing Gender in 5th Century BC Athens and 18th Century France
VIS 117I*    Western and Non-Western Rituals and Ceremonies
VIS 128F    Topics in Art Theory and Criticism
VIS 129F*    Seminar in Art Theory and Criticism

Students must take at least three upper-division seminars in addition to VIS 112. These three additional seminars may come from any area and be taken in fulfillment of the distribution requirements or as open electives.  

In accordance with standard university policy, the department requires that students take 2/3 of the upper-division courses in their major at UCSD. The distribution requirement must be fulfilled with courses taken at UCSD.  Courses taken abroad or at other US institutions do not count towards, and will not be substituted for, the 6 course distribution requirement.

GROUP III: Electives  (5 Upper-Division Courses Required)

At least three of these must be courses in Art History or Theory.  For the remaining two courses, choose from the following:

•    Any upper-division art history course(s) in history or theory
•    Any upper-division course(s) in media history and criticism
•    Upper-division courses in studio or media production
•    Two, 2-unit Curatorial Practices Workshop courses (VIS128P) count as one course towards the fulfillment of an elective
•    One upper-division course in a related department or program such as Anthropology, History, Literature, Critical Gender Studies (with permission of art history faculty advisor).

Honors Program in Art History

VIS 129G*    Art History Honors Seminar
VIS 129H*    Art History Honors Directed Group Study

The completion of both the Art History Honors Seminar and the Art History Honors Directed Group Study counts as one course towards the fulfillment of the Group III: Elective Requirement.

Students who meet the criteria may, with permission of the art history faculty advisor or the Art History Honors Seminar instructor, enroll in the Art History Honors Program during the last quarter of their junior year or as a senior.  This program is open to juniors and seniors who meet eligibility requirements.  Please consult with the departmental advisor for these requirements.


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