Is an Artistic Education Essential?

Illustration by Himarni Brownsword

You probably wouldn’t win much money betting on whether this article was written by a Courtauld student. But this question, is an artistic education, or an art historical education essential, fascinates me.

I grew up in an environment where knowledge was always valued, curiosity always encouraged. Growing up, however, there was a stigma I felt, towards those who did not enter the world of ‘STEM’- the strong, glistening, money-making degrees of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths. Instead, I chose a degree in history of art- a soft, non-abrasive, I-look-at-pretty-pictures option.

I have learnt over time that what I perceived was every word of a lie. The skills I have learnt as an art historian have made me look deeper into everything around me, and this in itself is an essential skill. Roy Prentice argues for the power of art as a facilitator for looking at the ‘intrinsic value’ of things, and this for me encapsulates the argument I present.

Art history is no politics degree- mathematica