Day in the Life of an Art Historian

The purpose of this online interview project is to promote the rich diversity of art historical practice today, as well as building greater awareness understanding of art history in general. It was initiated in 2012 when AAH members were invited to participate in an informal e-interview and respond to 10 questions. Here are their responses. 

Tatiana Afonina, beginner art historian

"Art history is important, because it's our inheritance, and the World's inheritance. We can see, how people not only made work, but felt, saw, thought, and lived." read full interview

Maria Athanasekou, part-time art history teacher, Athens, Greece

"...although the job situation for us is difficult, I would still do the same art history studies even if I ended up doing something completely different for a living because, cliche as it may sound, art has filled my life with joy and insights that i would not have found if I were to have studied something else..." read full interview

Jonathan Casely, Head of History of Art, Sherborne Girls School, Dorset, UK

"...[art history] can be a really good way of showing children the importance of history in their own lives and times. It is instructive to study Guernica and then watch pictures from Syria on the news. The treatment of civilians by armed powers in both cases shows that history can repeat itself..." read full interview

Leah R. Clark, Henry G. Fairbanks Visiting Humanities Scholar-in-Residence, Saint Michael's College, Vermont, USA

"...while I believe art history is a specific discipline and should remain so, i think the most productive art historical work is that which moves beyond the history of styles or artists and engages with other disciplines, and incorporates theoretical, anthropological and or course, historical concerns, that go beyond the discipline..." read full interview

Frances Follin, Production Director of Cassone: The International Online Magazine of Art and Art Books, UK

"...Deciding to take the BA was the best decision I ever made as regards education. I was thinking at the time that I might do an MBA but I am very glad I went for the BA and PhD instead. It really changed my life – I got my book published, met lots of great people - and of course the chance to launch Cassone and potentially bring art history to very large numbers of people..." read full interview

Sharon Hecker, Academic Dean and Adjunct Professor, IES Abroad Milano/Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, Italy

" job is to convince people that in our virtual age of sensory overload and instant gratification, it is still worthwhile to spend more than one minute in front of a work of art...I give people a sense of a work's history and context from which it emerged, transporting them back to the time in which it was made, while relating how art from another period can still be relevant today..." read full interview

Rod MacIlvaine, Fellow, Veritas Center for Faith, Freedom and Justice, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, USA

" some ways, I believe we live in the golden age of art appreciation and study. Through the internet, students of art can become familiar with a breadth of paintings in the great museums of the world. Previously this kind of study would have required expensive books or trips to the library..." read full interview

Imogen Racz, Senior Lecturer and Contextual Studies Coordinator, Coventry School of Art and Design, Coventry University, UK

"Higher education – and education in general - is in crisis, and understandably universities look for areas to be cut. The problem with cuts is that the impact cannot always be immediately defined as dangerous or seriously important, as people step in and try to fill the gaps. But actually the education of art students, the loss of subject expertise, the loss of cultural understanding and a more widespread loss of the value of critically looking at the world are affected by the loss of art historians and what they can uniquely provide" read full interview

Randall Rhodes, Assistant Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Professor, Department of Visual Arts Frostburg State University Frostburg, Maryland, USA

"...Art history is dedicated to the aesthetic and historical/psychological/sociological critique of objects. However, such a study also provides the tools and contexts to articulate a keen awareness of how objects function within our own environment, satisfying our materialist as well as political and emotional needs. The disciplinary paradigm can be applied to contemporary fields of design not only from within the traditional fine art media, but also the realm of consumer-driven products for domestic consumption..." read full interview

Faith Robinson, History of Art undergraduate, University of Leeds, UK
"People who know nothing about the subject either assume that art history involves being an artist in some way, or learning names and dates of paintings as an historian. When I explain my work however, I always emphasize how much art history focuses on ideas...  " read full interview

Seza Sinanlar, PHd. Art History, Lecturer, Art Management Program, Department of Art and Design Faculty at Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey

"...Art history is a major part of the history of mankind. We can’t imagine or consider a human being without her perception of art, her power to create, her role in the world. Art is the field where we face the power of the imagination of mankind...." read full interview

Deborah Sugg Ryan, Senior Lecturer in Histories & Theories of Design, Department of Design, University College Falmouth, Cornwall, UK

"...Art history is important as a way of exploring acts and products of human creativity. For me, art history and design and architectural history, broadly conceived to encompass all forms of visual and material culture, is important as a way of making sense of the stuff that surrounds us. It can give us fascinating insights into the lives and practices of our people as both producers and consumers..." read full interview

Tracey Warr, Senior Lecturer, Art Theory, Fine Art Programme, School of Arts, Oxford Brookes University, UK

"...In the past I think there was a divide between historical art history and contemporary art practice and writing, but I see that changing. AAH for instance has done a lot recently to include contemporary art historians and to bring art historians like myself who are working from an arts practice focus, into dialogue with art historians working with earlier periods of art history..." read full interview

This is an ongoing project, so if you would like to be involved please get in touch and I’ll forward you the interview questions,