A picture is no longer to be understood in terms of its theme, but as a contribution to the development of artHans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art, Chicago, 1994, p. 459
From paintings and sculpture, to ceramics, textiles and buildings, art history is the exploration of visual, material and spatial creativity in historical context. We can learn so much about historical change in the past and present by examining images, objects and spaces – whether art, design and architecture, photography, dress and performance, or museums and sites of heritage.
The Open University has an international reputation for its innovative art history research projects and we have been teaching art history to tens of thousands of students since 1975. Our modules offer a diverse and stimulating avenue into visual literacy, inviting students to discover a creative, inspiring and challenging way of looking at and engaging with objects, images and the built environment.
As a faculty, we are best known for the breadth of our research activity, from the Byzantine, Medieval and Renaissance periods, through to the 18th century, modern and contemporary art and visual culture. As well as undertaking regular individual and collaborative research projects, all our members also play key roles in three university-wide interdisciplinary research groups.
In the Research Excellence Framework 2014, OU research in Art and Design ranked sixth in the UK for its proportion of 3* (internationally excellent) or 4* (world leading) ratings. We have two significant online research resources available to all: the Open Arts Archive and the Open Arts Journal.
Our academics often give talks at high-profile museums and art galleries. We also advise on OU/BBC productions, including Civilisations (a series exploring the visual culture of societies around the globe) and Secrets of the Museum (a series venturing behind the scenes at the Victoria and Albert museum of art, design and performance).
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