University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
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What is Art History?

The rigorous study of Art History can benefit the casual as well as earnest student of the fine arts. Students learn to critically observe, process and articulate information into verbal and written form. By learning the language of visual imagery, including symbolism, students can also further enrich their observations of the world around them, particularly how people communicate across various mediums. In addition, a contextual study of the history of art can provide students with important insight into the histories, religions, philosophies, literature, psychology, and many other areas of inquiry throughout human history.


What does Pitt-Johnstown offer for Art History?

At Pitt-Johnstown, there is a broad array of course offerings in Art History, ranging from general surveys to period or individual studies. For those students majoring in other fields, there is a minor in Art History. The interdisciplinary nature of art history and its various applications to students in diverse majors offer tangible benefits regarding future careers in museums, law, libraries and archives, government agencies, publishing, engineering, and, particularly, elementary and secondary teaching. In order for a student to qualify for a minor in Art History, they must complete 18-credit hours in Fine Arts courses, with a minimum 2.0 QPA overall for those courses.


What kinds of courses will I take?

FA 0040 Introduction to Architecture
This course introduces students to the art of architecture from the ancient world through the 20th century. Structural, functional, and aesthetic developments will be chronologically examined with a focus on major monuments.

FA 0304 Renaissance Art
This course examines the art and architecture created in Italy and in Northern Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. By focusing on significant works of art and architecture, as well as greater societal issues and historical events of the period, a greater understanding will be achieved regarding the major art centers, patrons and individual artists, as well as the great masterpieces of the era.

FA 0031 Modern Art
Rather than simply chronologically surveying all modern art, this course focuses greater attention on primary and interrelated movements—such as realism, impressionism, Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and Pop Art—that were, arguably, the most influential art styles of the 19th and 20th centuries. The complex relationship between art movements and the societal conditions that affected the creation and meaning of this art will be examined through readings, classroom discussion, and visual analysis.

FA 0621 Art of China
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the rich artistic and cultural traditions of Asia as a whole, but particularly India, China, and Japan. By necessity, this course takes a broad approach, yet singular monuments of great importance will receive intense study, such as the Great Stupa at Sanchi, the Taj Mahal, the Forbidden City, and the great Shinto shrine at Ise. Other major topics include Chinese bronze ritual objects, Hindu architecture, Chinese scroll painting, and Japanese prints.

FA 0440 Frank Lloyd Wright
An intensive study on arguably the most important architect of the 20th century, this course seeks to examine the personal and professional life of Wright. Key works and periods of his career will be focused upon, supplemented with analysis of his own writings, in order to come to an understanding of this man's significance to modern architecture. Of particular interest are the structures and projects Wright undertook in the Pittsburgh region, including the world-famous Kaufmann house, Fallingwater.

Pitt-Johnstown Art History Faculty

Dr. Valerie S. Grash
Associate Professor of Fine Arts

BA, Slippery Rock University; MA, PhD (1998), Pennsylvania State University

Office: 230B Biddle Hall    Email:    Phone: 814-269-7164   

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Last Reviewed: January 18, 2012