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Art - Critical & Contextual Studies

 

History of art is an exciting A Level course which offers students the opportunity to study the development of art and architecture in its many changing forms. The emphasis of the course is on evaluating and interpreting works of art in their social and historical context. No prior knowledge of the subject or practical art experience is required.

Course Structure

The AQA specification provides students with a firm grounding in the fundamentals of the subject at AS and a focus on two specific periods at A2. In the AS course students will examine how to ‘read’ works of art, sculpture and architecture in the first of the two papers. The second AS paper deals with major themes in the history of art such as patronage and historical context.

At A2 the two papers focus on two discreet periods – the seventeenth century and the eighteenth century, covering the Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical style in Italy, Britain and France.

AS

UNIT 1 – 40%

This unit prepares students for a 1 hour paper featuring one painting, one sculpture and one building which students have to describe with specialist vocabulary and analyse and interpret accordingly.

UNIT 2 – 60%

The unit 2 exam requires students to select and write essays answering three theme-based questions in 90 minutes. Each question asks for two works of art and/or architecture to be discussed. Questions do not specify examples and students must select appropriate choices from twenty-two case-studies that we will cover during the course of the year. The themes are: Materials, Techniques and Processes, Form and Function, Form and Style, Patronage, Historical and Social Context, Gender, Nationality and Ethnicity, Subjects and Genres and Social and Cultural Status.

A2

UNIT 3 – 50%

This is the first of two historically focused units, each examined by a 90-minute exam in which two essay questions must be answered using examples studied in class. Unit 3 examines the art and architecture of the seventeenth century, encompassing the Baroque style and such artists as Caravaggio, Rubens, Bernini and Velazquez. At this level student will be expected to understand the social, economic and cultural contexts of the period and how they contribute to understanding and interpretation of individual works of painting, sculpture and architecture.

UNIT 4 – 50%

The second historical topic is the eighteenth century. This period involves the Rococo and Neoclassical styles and such artists as Watteau, Hogarth and Jacques-Louis David. Again student will be expected to understand the social, economic and cultural contexts of the period and how they contribute to understanding and interpretation of individual works of painting, sculpture and architecture.

Trips and Extra Curricular Events

An integral part of this course is viewing works of art at first hand and regular visits to the London galleries are organised. Students are also expected to undertake as many independent visits as possible.

Post A Level Opportunities

Students achieve excellent results and many have gone on to continue their study of History of Art at degree level, most recently at universities such as UCL, Leeds, Bristol and Nottingham. The approach used whilst studying this subject, through independent research from a variety of sources to formal essay writing, prepares students for continuing study at a higher level both in Art History and many other subject areas.

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