Personal Statement on Experience in the Field of Art History

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When Duchamp entered his 'Fountain' to the Society of Independent Artists in 1917, it was rejected as it was not deemed art. Dadaism responded in outcry, and ever since the progression of art has been in doubt as Duchamp inspired artists to explore the bounds of visual culture. Consequently, art has moved in unprecedented directions and created new questions: Why do we use visual means to express ideas? Who dictates taste? Or ultimately, what constitutes art? Considering answers to enquiries like these is a central incentive for studying the history of art. The scope of my enthusiasm for art has been limited to making for a long time, but in school I have found pleasure in both the classroom and studio and within these, it is noticeable that society is becoming increasingly visual. Technological advance allows for more graphic stimulation than ever; communicating ideas and critically engaging with visual sources are vital skills in this new culture. Navigating social contexts whilst writing clearly about such issues adds to the transferable proficiency that an art history degree will expand.

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At the RA's Summer Exhibition, I typically find the juxtaposition of an acclaimed artist's work with that of an amateur striking, demonstrating the importance of curation. Similarly at the National Gallery, understanding how art is catalogued is fruitful: the placement of Stubbs' 'Whistlejacket' can be seen through the many glass doorways before it, altering its meaning as a result. At the Royal Scottish Academy, I saw Bridget Riley's exhibition that explores her influences of impressionism which result in op-art. In an informative interview with Sir John Leighton, Riley explains how she puts formal qualities 'through their paces' with agentive pictorial elements to reach abstraction. These visits have familiarised me with the process of critically thinking about art, its organisation and capital. John Berger's 'Ways of Seeing' explores the notion that image holds more status than word: one pictorial essay explores how the female body has become a sexualised object in western society, showing a graphical influence in portraying issues. Grayson Perry multimodally conveys similar debates in 'Playing to the Gallery'. The most curious of these was the idea that art has been overruled by monetary value, as Perry quoted Greenberg's claim that it is 'tied to money by an umbilical cord of gold'. In 'Art History: A Very Short Introduction', Dana Arnold takes a wider view, focusing less on the value of art and more so on the major debates in the discipline. Within these, I noticed links to Berger's work in her dismissal of patriarchy.

To relate philosophical ideas to art, I read Camus' existentialist work, 'The Outsider'. It explores themes of indifference and meaningless in the human condition, mirroring Duchamp's ideas that reject logic in society, instead highlighting universal irrationality. Likewise, I have found Aristotle's notion of empiricism apparent in my own art. Practising drawing typifies his idea that knowledge is developed by repetition, which is clear in my individual work. This has also led me to obtain visual sensitivity by appreciating the creative process, contextually aiding the exploration of art history. Aside from my own artistic pursuit, pleasure sought from verbal methods has led me to establish my blog: The Black Sketchbook, a journal in which I voice my ideas surrounding art. As Head of House and a school prefect, I have learnt the value of commitment, communication and camaraderie. Despite not being a natural sportsman, I have attempted to apply this attitude on the games pitch in inter-house competitions. Realising that my aspirations lie in the academic world of art, a degree in art history would equip me with expertise and aptitude to achieve this aim. My current experience in the field has been compelling and I trust a degree will provide the challenge of better understanding this copious subject.

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Personal Statement on Experience in the Field of Art History. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Personal Statement on Experience in the Field of Art History.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
Personal Statement on Experience in the Field of Art History. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
Personal Statement on Experience in the Field of Art History [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2024 May 26]. Available from:

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