A Level History of Art

 

What is it about at sixth-form level?

Consider the image on the previous page. What do you see? Who are these men? What are they doing? What are these objects? What do they reveal to us about their personalities? What has the image to do with politics, religion, science and music? Why is there a cross in the top left hand corner? All of these questions and more are of interest to us as well as how it was made and what it tells us about friendship in the Renaissance. As we investigate further we will address issues concerning contemporary politics, religious division and even why the work is in the format of a marriage portrait.

Works of art are layered and structured things like poems and stories, built of out of symbols whose significance is not always obvious. By studying History of Art A level, you will learn how to decode them. You will look at their differing styles and the particular techniques, materials and processes that have gone into their construction. Alongside this traditional approach, you will also learn about new perspectives from which to evaluate works of art, such as considering the social context in which they existed and the gender and ethnicity of the people that created them. History of Art is a wide-ranging subject that raises many questions as it is a point of intersection between history, sociology, psychology and philosophy. It is where all the different pieces of the academic puzzle start to make sense.

Lower sixth and upper sixth

At the time of writing, only a brief outline of the new specification has been released by the examination board. Students will begin by studying formal aspects of art and architecture and how they contribute to meaning. They will study in detail two topics from the following three: (i) Nature in Art; (ii) Identities in Art; and (iii) War in Art.

They will then study two art historical periods from a choice of the following five: (i) Invention and Illusion (The Renaissance in Italy 1420-1520); (ii) Power & Persuasion (The Baroque in Catholic Europe 1597-1685); (iii) Rebellion & Revival (The Avant-Garde in Britain & France (1848-1899); (iv) Brave New World (Modernism in Europe 1900-1939) and (v) Pop Life (Contemporary Art & Architecture in Britain & the USA 1960-2015).

Why study it and what Why study it and what skills does it develop

A History of Art A level is excellent preparation for degree-level study in the subject. It is also of benefit to those wishing to pursue studies in or careers in the media, art and advertising. It develops skills of analysis and interpretation that are of great value to a very wide range of subjects. Art historians are much sought after for their analytical and evaluative skills.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

You should be interested in both art and history as well as philosophy and religion. You should be interested in ideas, as the course is about learning to understand the meaning of works of art in their historical and social context as well as issues such as style, gender, and patronage.

How is the course assessed?

AS level

At the time of going to press, the AS level specification has not yet been approved and released by the exam board. Once this is available, both the specification and an updated reading list will be provided to students.

A level

For the A level there are two examinations. In Paper 1 (Visual Analysis and Themes) you will analyse three images and then write answers on two of the three themes on the question paper. It lasts 3 hours and is worth 50% of the A level. For Paper 2 (Periods) you will write on two periods out of five providing two short answers and one longer answer for each period. This paper lasts 3 hours and is worth 50% of the A level.

Reading

The Story of Art
By E. H. Gombrich
Published by Phaidon Press, ISBN 978-0714832470

A World History of Art
By Honour, Fleming
Published by Laurence King, ISBN 978-1856695848

Art in Renaissance Italy
By Paolettii, Radke
Published by Laurence King, ISBN 978-1856697972

Annotated Art
By R. Cumming
Published by Dorling Kindersley, ISBN 978-0751301588

Painting in Renaissance Venice
By P. Humfrey
Published by Yale University, ISBN 978-0300067156

 

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: code yet to be confirmed, A level: Edexcel Pearson 9HT0

Matthew

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
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Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
Nottingham University (Philosophy)

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Grades achieved at MPW
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Progressed to
University of York (Law) 

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Grades achieved at MPW
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Progressed to
University College London (Economics) 

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Grades achieved at MPW
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Progressed to
King's College London (International Relations)

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