First Year Programs - Art and Art History Skip Navigation

Art and Art History (ARTS)

Chair: P. Kaimal

The Department of Art and Art History offers courses of study in the history, theory, and practice of the visual arts for the general liberal arts student as well as majors in either art history or studio art or minors in Architectural Studies or Museum Studies.  Such study empowers students to appreciate creativity within our visually saturated world as well as to appreciate the ways in which works of art from the past inform human values and understanding around the globe.  Majors in the department have gone on to successful careers both within and outside of the arts, some examples of which may be found at Success after Colgate.

Art History

The department offers more than 20 courses that trace the visual arts from antiquity to the present day. Class lectures and discussions are supplemented by visits to museums in the area and in New York City, as well as Colgate’s Clifford Gallery, Picker Art Gallery, and Longyear Museum. In this way, students increase their understanding of the visual arts as expressions of fundamental cultural values.

Studio Art

Courses in the practice of art provide instruction in drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, video art, printmaking, and digital art. These courses are designed to explore creative visual modes of expression and to help the student gain familiarity with contemporary issues in the visual arts. Studio practice is augmented by a weekly lecture series, gallery exhibitions, film and video screenings, and guest artists.

Students interested in pursuing study with studio or art history are encouraged to begin work in the department as soon as possible. FSEM 160/ARTS 100 is a prerequisite for all further studio work and should be taken in the first year and preferably in the first semester. In Art History, students are encouraged to enroll in a 100- or 200-level course in the first year and preferably in their first semester.

Students interested in receiving more information about the study of Visual Arts should contact the chair, Professor Kaimal (

Architectural Studies

Courses in Architectural Studies concentrate on the study of historical architecture in a wide range intellectual, social, and political contexts. Participation in the Architectural Studies minor concentration is supportive of both those students seeking to go on to Architecture School and students seeking to increase their understanding of the ways that human values and culture help shape our built environment. First year students interested in Architectural Studies are strongly encouraged to take FSEM 160/ARTS 100 and ARTS 105, Introduction to Architecture, in their first year.

Museum Studies

The Department of Art & Art History now offers an interdisciplinary minor in Museum Studies. Courses are drawn from listings across campus, and may address a range of topics, including actual museums (their histories, architecture, operations, politics, ethics, etc.), collective memory, institutional critique, heritage, cultural property, or public history. Courses may also count toward the program if a substantial part of their pedagogy is object-based.

The minor program consists of 5 courses and a practicum or internship, which can be fulfilled at the Picker Art Gallery or Longyear Museum of Anthropology during the academic year or over the summer, or at any other suitable museum during the summer. Museum Studies faculty will help students in the program identify practicum/internship opportunities and sources of funding if necessary.

For more information about the program, please contact a member of the Museum Studies Advisory Committee: Elizabeth Marlowe (Art History) (, Jordy Kerber (Anthropology) (, Xan Karn (History) (, or Anja Chavez (University Museums) (

Advanced Placement

Colgate course credit is awarded to students receiving a score of 4 or 5 in AP Art History and AP Studio Art. Students receiving a score of 4 or 5 in AP Art History receive credit for ARTS 102. Students receiving a score of 4 or 5 on both the AP studio art 2-D and 3-D design exams may receive credit for ARTS 100, subject to approval of the department based on a portfolio review. Portfolios must demonstrate competence in a variety of media and conceptual approaches. Please contact the department for more information regarding a portfolio review.


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ARTS 100, Introduction to Studio Art
Introduces creative thinking and problem solving, the challenges of visual representation and expression, and critical method. Students will become familiar with contemporary and historical artistic practices and theoretical frameworks, as they engage in a series of studio based investigations exploring a variety of mediums and materials. ARTS 100 lays important groundwork for students interested in continuing in studio art or concentrating in Art and Art History. In the spirit of the liberal arts, the visual thinking and creative processes central to the course are relevant to a range of other disciplines as well. Attendance at our regularly scheduled ARTS Lecture Series is required. Material cost is $50–$100. This course is a prerequisite for all 200 level studio courses.

ARTS 101, Caves to Cathedrals
Focuses on key artworks from ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Islamic world, and the European Middle Ages. It examines how visual languages developed to communicate ideological messages about various people’s relationships with their gods, their rulers, their subjects, their enemies, and each other. Also serves an introduction to the discipline of art history, training students for more advanced art history courses by teaching basic vocabulary and techniques of close looking and analytical thinking about visual material.

ARTS 110, Global Contemporary Art
Examines contemporary art's shifting relationship to changes taking place in the world at large: the pressures and challenges, as well as the possibilities that come with globalization and decolonization. It addresses other spaces that emerge through processes of cultural encounter and movement, and the importance of addressing art, culture, and aesthetics on local, regional, and supra-national scales.

ARTS 238, Transatl Avant-Gard:1880-1920
This is a critical and historical survey of the visual arts from 1880 to 1920, examining how modern art transformed in reaction and response to radical technological, social, and political change. Particular attention will be paid to the roles played by industrialization, political and sexual revolution, rapid urban growth, and an expanding consumer culture in defining a wide range of visual culture. The course examines problems of representation, abstraction, and modernism as they are exemplified in painting, drawing, and sculpture, alongside the newer media of photography, assemblage, film, and collage.

ARTS 280, Visual Culture of Fascism
Through a close analysis of cultural production and ideological statements, this course will examine the relationship between the politics of fascism and its visual practices, analyzing the role of art in the formation of the regimes' self-identity and in the formation of the fascist subjects. Students will consider the related but diverse manifestations of fascist culture in Japan, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy in order to compare and contrast the heterogeneous modes of fascist visual culture in the interwar period. As well as examine responses to fascism in countries such as Great Britain, the United States, and Mexico, in order to understand the ways in which liberal regimes reacted to the visual propaganda of totalitarianism. Materials will include painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, graphic design, film, and forms of public spectacle and pageantry.