The Art History Department studies the forms, functions, meanings, and theoretical underpinnings of the visual arts, broadly construed to encompass such activities as performance, construction, and installation as well as painting, sculpture, photography, and architecture. Our department considers works of art in historically and culturally specific ways, situating them within systems of belief, habits of visual literacy, practices of self-formation, social and political ideologies, patterns of sacred and secular discourse, assumptions about intentionality and authority, and currencies of global and transnational exchange. We comprise four collaborative faculty clusters: Ancient Mediterranean and American; Medieval/Renaissance/Baroque; Modern/Contemporary European, American, and African; and Architectural Studies. As a department we strive to introduce students to a rich variety of approaches to art and its study, to model for them analytical and critical thinking, and to encourage lucid writing and thoughtful response. At the graduate level, it is our mission to train students in the methods and practices of the field and to prepare them for advanced, artwork-based, interdisciplinary research with a respect for primary evidence and cultural contexts, past and present, so that they can successfully pursue careers in academic or museum work with benefit for the broader community.
Christina E. Crawford
Bonna Daix Wescoat
The Art History Department is housed in Carlos Hall, a building of considerable architectural distinction and one of the original buildings on the campus, designed in 1916 by Beaux Arts architect Henry Hornbostel. In 1984, Carlos Hall underwent an A.I.A. award-winning renovation by Michael Graves, who later designed the adjacent Michael C. Carlos Museum. After having occupied a house adjacent to the campus since its beginnings, the department moved in 1970 to a temporary World War II-era facility and remained there until November 1984 when it moved into the new facilities.
The Art History department was founded in 1965 and had three full-time faculty members by 1967-"founding fathers" Thomas Lyman, John Howett, and William Crelly specializing in Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque Art respectively. Arriving at Emory in 1966, Howett helped develop the Department of Art History and its graduate program, summer-abroad program in Europe, and collection of works of art on paper, which subsequently became part of the University's Michael C. Carlos Museum. Howett was instrumental in the decision to select Michael Graves as the architect of the Carlos Museum. In 1991, William Crelly retired, as did John Howett in 1996. All three former colleagues are now deceased: Eheu fugaces labuntur anni.
As the department has grown and added faculty, areas of research have expanded to include the art and archaeology of ancient Greece and Rome; art of the ancient Americas, of Egypt, and of Africa; Northern Renaissance and Baroque art; and modern and contemporary art and architecture.
The first Art History graduate course was offered in 1975, within the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts (ILA). In the fall of 1977, the department instituted its own two-year M.A. program, consisting mainly of advanced courses and seminars that were also open to undergraduates, with a "fourth hour" offered separately to the M.A. students. Some of the students who achieved M.A. degrees in Art History during these years went on to earn Ph.D. degrees in the ILA. The first Ph.D. class was admitted in the fall of 1991, at which point students were no longer accepted for a terminal M.A. degree. In the spring of 1998, four students comprised our first graduating class with Ph.D.s in Art History.