Master in Arts and Culture: Contemporary Art History


Program Description

The Master's programme Contemporary Art History focuses on the visual, process-based, and digital art since the 1960s. This specialization trains you as an art historian who is equipped to tackle this complex but fascinating field. After completing this programme, you will have a solid knowledge of today’s visual, process-based, and digital art. You will also be equipped with skills to do research, present, and write about today's art, enabling you to pursue a career in the cultural sector (museums, festivals, art galleries, archives), as art critic, or freelance cultural entrepreneur.

Today’s art includes installation art and site-specific projects, digital or new media art (interactive installations, locative media works, software art, networked art, electronic art and video art), performative and activist projects and artistic research.

What unites these art forms is that they directly address the complexity of today’s society, within which information technologies and globalization play an ever-increasing role, leading to networked forms of artistic practice that transgress national and cultural borders. At the same time, artists are very aware of the heritage they build upon, deconstruct, commenting on, or appropriating art history, leading to various attempts to describe contemporary art with terms such as post-modern, post-conceptual, post-medium, and more recently even post-internet and post-digital – and post-contemporary.

Mandatory classes
You will kick off your first semester by self-critically questioning your role as an art historian with a specific interest in contemporary art by following a class on ‘Methods and Theories of Art History’ in the first period. Parallel to this, you will follow a research seminar dedicated to a specific topic within contemporary art, in order to immediately get started in developing your knowledge of the field and to improve your research and writing skills. While this class continues in the second period, the second period will also allow you to delve into the depth of digital and process-based art while following a class specifically dedicated to new media art.

While the major part of the second semester will be dedicated to supporting you in writing your MA thesis, in period four you will follow a class on art criticism to further develop your skills in writing and in critically assessing contemporary art. You’ll also follow our Arts & Culture Lecture Series class (Trending Topics), inviting you to reflect on recent issues in our field by listening to renowned international guest speakers and discussing their writing with fellow students from different specializations. Last but not least, you’ll go on a field trip to a foreign country, to prove and further develop your analytical skills onsite.

Furthermore, you can select a class from a range of electives, such as the classes ‘Reading Concepts of Intermediality’, ‘Crossmedial Exhibitions’, or ‘Media Aesthetics’ offered in the framework of the CAMS programme. You can also choose from the specializations ‘Kunst, Markt, en Connaisseurschap’ (in Dutch) or ‘Design Cultures’ or a class on ‘Collecting and Display, as well as further electives from Philosophy or Literary Studies.

Last updated Feb 2020

About the School

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to 23,00 ... Read More

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to 23,000 students from all over the world. Students and staff of 130 nationalities create a dynamic international academic community. The University distinguishes itself in research and education through four interdisciplinary themes: Human Health and Life Sciences, Science for Sustainability, Connected World and Governance for Society. Read less