Department of Art History

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The Department of Art History’s main program is entitled “The Languages of Art and Culture: Aspects of Interaction”. The lectures and seminars included in this program are based on interdisciplinary and comparative research methods, which expand and enrich the scholarly horizons of professional humanities scholars regardless of their particular field of expertise. Traditionally, our department’s special area of interest is the history of cultural contacts between Russia and Europe.

Traditional art history is a fairly narrow discipline. In Russia, it has historically been the case that art historians study history, but much more rarely deal with the theory of painting, drawing, sculpture, and the decorative and applied arts, and with architecture only in exceptional circumstances. Theater, cinema, literature and music remain, as a rule, outside the curriculum. The department’s task is to train specialists capable of understanding different artistic idioms and codes, and facilitating a dialogue amongst them. The learning process in the department is thus organized so that the various fields of art reveal their mutual translatability.

We also strive to ensure that the specialists educated in our department are familiar with contemporary international art scholarship and capable, over time, of entering the international professional milieu.

Among the new directions in the department’s current program are visual studies and the social history of art.

The master’s program is built around three cores:

  • Interaction of Artistic Codes. Students learn about key problems in the spatial arts, literature, theater, music, etc., as well as acquire the skills for analyzing them. Special attention is paid to various aspects of the relationship between the visual and the verbal as the core issue of European culture from antiquity to the present day, as well as the latest diverse visual practices in their interaction with traditional forms of art.
  • Russian and Foreign Art: Issues of Interaction. This group of courses presents a typological and historical-comparative analysis of phenomena in Russian and foreign (especially Western European) culture. The processes of culture interaction are investigated both from a broad temporal perspective and via specific examples of creative contacts and individual works. The study of this group of subjects enables students to form an adequate idea of Russian art’s place in the international context.
  • Social History and the Sociology of Art. This block of courses is based on the work of Russian (1920s) and international (1970–present) art scholars. It helps students develop the ability to analyze art in its social and ideological aspects, and investigate art institutions and the figure of the artist as social and historical phenomena.


Contact us: 

6/1A Gagarinskaya st. (Shpalernaya ul., 1),
St. Petersburg, 191187, Russia
Phone +7 (812) 386-7635
Fax +7 (812) 386-7639