LEXINGTON, KY –
For years, art history has been residing in the field of forgotten dreams, where bachelor’s degrees like English, philosophy, and the ever-popular fine arts go, only to fly off of resumes from the breath of the powerful horse laugh emitted from potential employers. Yes, the history of art has long been seen as a monotonous study of date memorization and staring at pretty pictures all day in the dark, seemingly so that the students don’t have to stare at each other’s often less fortunate looking faces.
In the past few years, however, the stigma of this seemingly unnecessary major has begun to be replaced by legitimate usefulness in today’s society, leading me to believe that perhaps art history, in fact, is not completely worthless.
My first sign of this revelation came with the booming TV show Downton Abbey. Nearly every morning, the Earl of Grantham (the patriarch of the Crawley family) sits at the head of his modest breakfast table under a towering portrait of a man and his mighty steed. Millions of 12-17 year old viewers were torturously trying to figure out the identity of this mysterious man (or woman) and who came to the rescue?
None other than the art historians of the world! They buckled up their corduroys, dug into their torn leather attachés, and broke out the big book of Dutch art— valiantly pointing to a painting entitled King Charles I by Anthony Van Dyke. Yes, this was in fact the painting that has been acting as a halo of sorts to Robert Crawley for three blissful seasons.
One may believe the heroism of the art historians ends there; however, there is more good news to report. There has been a rapid rise in questions regarding this “painted history” on the popular show Jeopardy. Yes, from my count there have been roughly 11 questions over the past five episodes that any art historian who is worth his (or her) salt would know.
Clearly this is a demonstration that if one wishes to be competitive on daily trivial…I mean, trivia…games, then one simply must study the history of art. I’ll take “where do I sign up” for $2000, Alex (not to be confused with my soon-to-be yearly salary).
BY GINA WADE