People who love art, feel its attraction and are eager to take up its intellectual challenges can study in our department and join in the research that we do here. Sometimes I hear that to study Art History "interests me, but is not practical." Those who feel this way are mistaken and miss the point of what is practical today and what isn't. Today our world communicates more and more through visual images and less through words. Even in daily life it is often preferable to send a picture than to describe a situation in writing. Often in public communication it is specifically a visual image and not an article that becomes the subject everyone is discussing. Here, as in every field there are different levels: everyone knows how to press the button on a camera, but not everyone can concentrate feelings and ideas into a unique image that we carry with us throughout our life. It is the artist who uses the visual image as a means of expression. And the person who can understand and interpret this special visual language on all its levels has a professional advantage over others in the current and future intellectual world. We are the department in which you will learn to analyze and understand this language in all its diverse expressions.
In order to become an expert in this field one must answer the following questions in depth: What is a picture? When and why and in which media did people begin to use visual images? How did these images serve different religions and ideologies? What place and role does the aesthetic experience have in all this? How did artists in different societies develop the ability to represent reality in images? Or, on the other hand, why did some societies think that an imitation of reality was not necessary or totally unacceptable or inferior intellectually and aesthetically, and therefore chose abstract representations? Did images always have political power, or is this a characteristic of the modern world? Is there only one correct interpretation of an image or does every view of it have its place? For a student to answer questions of this kind, and ask new questions independently, the department offers a program of study in Art History that is developed historically, starting from the prehistoric period to contemporary art, including Israeli art.
The Department of Art History of the Hebrew University offers a fascinating intellectual environment led by scholars and lecturers of the highest rank in the field of art historical research in Israel and in the world.
Already in your first years of study you will be able to begin to do research. There is nothing more rewarding than the joy of discovering the secrets of the visual language!
Dr. Lola Kantor-Kazovsky
Head of the Department