AP Art History is designed to provide the same benefits to secondary school students as those provided by an introductory college course in art history. In the course, students examine major forms of artistic expression from the ancient world to the present and from a variety of cultures. They learn to look and analyze works of art within their historical context, and to articulate what they see or experience in a meaningful way. A meaningful way to experience works of art is learning to frame an understanding that relates how and why works of art communicate visual meaning.

An introductory college art history course generally covers the various art forms in the following proportions: 40%–50% painting and drawing, 25% architecture, 25% sculpture, and 5%–10% other media (printmaking, photography, ceramics, fiber arts, etc.). The AP Art History course content and AP Examination reflect these distributions.

College art history survey courses vary in approaches to interpreting art, including selection of chronological frameworks, themes, and the emphasis on analytical skills. The AP Development Committee regularly monitors the ways in which art history is taught at the college level and the choices they make in devising the course and the examination are compatible with college level curricular objectives.

The main objectives of AP curriculum in Art History are to develop in students:

  1. the ability to apply fundamental art and art historical terminology.
  2. an appreciation for the process of making and displaying art.
  3. an understanding of purpose and function of art.
  4. the ability to analyze works of art in context of historical evidence and interpretation, examining such issues as politics, religion, patronage, gender, and ethnicity.
  5. an understanding of cross-cultural and global nature of art.
  6. the ability to perform higher order thinking skills and articulate visual and art historical concepts in verbal and written forms.

The topics covered in the course include:

  1. Ancient Through Medieval (30%)
    • Greece and Rome (10%–15%)
    • Early Christian, Byzantine, Early Medieval (5%–10%)
    • Romanesque (3%–7%)
    • Gothic (7%–10%)
  2. Renaissance to Present (50%)
    • Fourteenth Through Sixteenth Centuries (12%–17%
    • Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (10%–15%)
    • Nineteenth Century (10%–15%)
    • Twentieth Century and Contemporary Art (10%–15%)
  3. Beyond European Artistic Traditions (20%)
    • Africa (including ancient Egypt); the Americas; Asia; the ancient Near East, Oceania, and global Islamic tradition


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