Arts & Culture: Contemporary Art History

Study the art of the present
Programme of
Arts and Culture/
Kunst- en Cultuurwetenschappen
Title

Contemporary Art History

Contemporary Art History is an specialization focusing on visual, process-based, and digital art since the 1960s. Far from being restricted to the classical art forms of painting, sculpture, and graphics, today’s art includes installation art and site-specific projects, digital or new media art (interactive installations, locative media works, software art, networked art, electronic art and video art), performative and activist projects and artistic research.

What unites these art forms is that they directly address the complexity of today’s society, within which information technologies and globalization play an ever-increasing role, leading to networked forms of artistic practice that transgress national and cultural borders. At the same time,  artists are very aware of the heritage they build upon, deconstructing, commenting on, or appropriating art history, leading to various attempts to describe contemporary art with terms such as post-modern, post-conceptual, post-medium, and more recently even post-internet and post-digital – and post-contemporary...

Contemporary Art History trains you as an art historian who is equipped to deal with the challenges of tackling this complex but fascinating field. After having followed this program, you will have a solid knowledge of today’s visual, process-based, and digital art, and be equipped with the means to research, present, and write about the latter, enabling you to pursue a career in the cultural sector (museums, festivals, art galleries, archives), as art critic, or freelance cultural entrepreneur. 

Overview Arts & Culture: Contemporary Art History

taal

English

duur

1 year

collegegeld

aanmeldenvoor

1 June for Dutch and EU-students, 1 April for non-EU students

startdatum

1 September

vorm

Full-time

interessegebied

Art, Culture and History

Study programme

Mandatory classes
You will kick off your first semester by self-critically questioning your role as an art historian with a specific interest in contemporary art by following a class on ‘Methods and Theories of Art History’ in the first period. Parallel to this, you will follow a research seminar dedicated to a specific topic within contemporary art, in order to immediately get started in developing your knowledge of the field and to improve your research and writing skills. While this class continues in the second period, the second period will also allow you to delve into the depth of digital and process-based art while following a class specifically dedicated to new media art.

While the major part of the second semester will be dedicated to supporting you in writing your MA thesis, in period four you will follow a class on art criticism to further develop your skills in writing and in critically assessing contemporary art. You’ll also follow our Arts & Culture Lecture Series class, inviting you to reflect on recent issues in our field by listening to renowned international guest speakers and discussing their writing with fellow students from different specializations.

Electives
Next to this mandatory package, you have plenty of space to follow electives, such as the classes ‘Reading Concepts of Intermediality’, ‘Crossmedial Exhibitions’, or ‘The Art of Comparison’ offered in the framework of the CAMS programme. You can also choose classes from the specializations ‘Kunst, Markt, en Connaisseurschap’ (in Dutch) or ‘Design Cultures’ or a class on ‘Collecting and Display, as well as further electives from Philosophy or Literary Studies.

Why study at VU?

Study the art of the present
In selecting this specialization you devote your attention to what is at stake now – to artworks that take on the challenges of the globalized information society. You do so from a firm basis in an established discipline that has much to offer, but also to continuously adapt in seeking to keep up with the art of the present.

Unique in the Netherlands and ideally located in Amsterdam
Contemporary Art History is unique in the Netherlands in allowing students to research digital and process-based art in the broader context of contemporary art history. The Netherlands, and Amsterdam especially, has been a pioneer in supporting contemporary artistic practice, and new media art in particular. You can profit from the extensive archives and digital collections on site, such as the collection of the Netherlands Institute for Media Art (at LIMA) or the video art collections of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and De Appel Arts Center. You can attend festivals such as Sonic Acts, FIBER, or IMPAKT and the various public programs offered all year round by Dutch contemporary art institutions to  experience performative and digital practices first-hand, and frequent exhibitions of new media art all around the Netherlands. The same is true for contemporary art in general, with Amsterdam as a central hub for art and culture.

Profit from top-quality researchers as your teachers
The staff members teaching within the MA program are top-quality researchers with a strong national and international profile, particularly in the field of contemporary art. They draw on a firm background in art history, but have broadened their involvement in neighboring fields such as media theory, performance studies, and critical theory.

Further define the focus of your study through the choice of electives 
By choosing electives from other specializations within and beyond the MA Arts & Culture, you can tailor your study program to your specific interests and profit from the expert knowledge of staff members in the areas of film, games, television, curatorial studies, (early) modern art history, the art market, design, media theory, literature, history, and philosophy.

Become a member of a vibrant student community and profit from the offers of our Graduate School and Research Institutes
Not only via the mandatory Arts & Culture lecture series class and your choice of electives,  but also through various events and seminars offered by the Graduate School and by our Interfaculty Research Institutes (CLUE+ and Network Institute), you will study in close contact with students and staff across the faculty. As Contemporary Art History is taught in English, you will be part of an international classroom environment, in contact with students from all over the world.

Your future career


Prepare for a career in the cultural sector, art festivals, exhibitions and galleries, art journalism, or the creative industries. Contemporary Art History equips you with skills and critical insight to be able to comment on, judge, present, and write about art in the information age in an independent and critical manner. The program thereby prepares you for a position in which substantial knowledge and research skills in the field of contemporary and digital art are required, such as organizing exhibitions, events, or festivals, writing about art for newspapers, magazines or online-media, working in public programming or educational departments of museums, the city council, festival organizations, in public or private archives, or pursue research on a freelance basis or within academia.

Study programme

Mandatory classes
You will kick off your first semester by self-critically questioning your role as an art historian with a specific interest in contemporary art by following a class on ‘Methods and Theories of Art History’ in the first period. Parallel to this, you will follow a research seminar dedicated to a specific topic within contemporary art, in order to immediately get started in developing your knowledge of the field and to improve your research and writing skills. While this class continues in the second period, the second period will also allow you to delve into the depth of digital and process-based art while following a class specifically dedicated to new media art.

While the major part of the second semester will be dedicated to supporting you in writing your MA thesis, in period four you will follow a class on art criticism to further develop your skills in writing and in critically assessing contemporary art. You’ll also follow our Arts & Culture Lecture Series class, inviting you to reflect on recent issues in our field by listening to renowned international guest speakers and discussing their writing with fellow students from different specializations.

Electives
Next to this mandatory package, you have plenty of space to follow electives, such as the classes ‘Reading Concepts of Intermediality’, ‘Crossmedial Exhibitions’, or ‘The Art of Comparison’ offered in the framework of the CAMS programme. You can also choose classes from the specializations ‘Kunst, Markt, en Connaisseurschap’ (in Dutch) or ‘Design Cultures’ or a class on ‘Collecting and Display, as well as further electives from Philosophy or Literary Studies.

Why study at VU?

Study the art of the present
In selecting this specialization you devote your attention to what is at stake now – to artworks that take on the challenges of the globalized information society. You do so from a firm basis in an established discipline that has much to offer, but also to continuously adapt in seeking to keep up with the art of the present.

Unique in the Netherlands and ideally located in Amsterdam
Contemporary Art History is unique in the Netherlands in allowing students to research digital and process-based art in the broader context of contemporary art history. The Netherlands, and Amsterdam especially, has been a pioneer in supporting contemporary artistic practice, and new media art in particular. You can profit from the extensive archives and digital collections on site, such as the collection of the Netherlands Institute for Media Art (at LIMA) or the video art collections of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and De Appel Arts Center. You can attend festivals such as Sonic Acts, FIBER, or IMPAKT and the various public programs offered all year round by Dutch contemporary art institutions to  experience performative and digital practices first-hand, and frequent exhibitions of new media art all around the Netherlands. The same is true for contemporary art in general, with Amsterdam as a central hub for art and culture.

Profit from top-quality researchers as your teachers
The staff members teaching within the MA program are top-quality researchers with a strong national and international profile, particularly in the field of contemporary art. They draw on a firm background in art history, but have broadened their involvement in neighboring fields such as media theory, performance studies, and critical theory.

Further define the focus of your study through the choice of electives 
By choosing electives from other specializations within and beyond the MA Arts & Culture, you can tailor your study program to your specific interests and profit from the expert knowledge of staff members in the areas of film, games, television, curatorial studies, (early) modern art history, the art market, design, media theory, literature, history, and philosophy.

Become a member of a vibrant student community and profit from the offers of our Graduate School and Research Institutes
Not only via the mandatory Arts & Culture lecture series class and your choice of electives,  but also through various events and seminars offered by the Graduate School and by our Interfaculty Research Institutes (CLUE+ and Network Institute), you will study in close contact with students and staff across the faculty. As Contemporary Art History is taught in English, you will be part of an international classroom environment, in contact with students from all over the world.

Your future career


Prepare for a career in the cultural sector, art festivals, exhibitions and galleries, art journalism, or the creative industries. Contemporary Art History equips you with skills and critical insight to be able to comment on, judge, present, and write about art in the information age in an independent and critical manner. The program thereby prepares you for a position in which substantial knowledge and research skills in the field of contemporary and digital art are required, such as organizing exhibitions, events, or festivals, writing about art for newspapers, magazines or online-media, working in public programming or educational departments of museums, the city council, festival organizations, in public or private archives, or pursue research on a freelance basis or within academia.

Dutch students

Admission to the Master's Arts &Culture, specialization Contemporary Art History is possible with a Bachelor's degree in art history or equivalent (such as the VU’s own MKDA programme). If you have an academic Bachelor in the Humanities (history, media studies, philosophy, cultural studies), a solid background is required in art history/theory to be admitted to the programme. After you have submitted your application to the Admission Board, it will be decided if you are eligible directly, or if you may qualify for a Pre-Masters programme. Candidates with an HBO Bachelor always have to follow a Pre-Masters programme.

Dutch students and international candidates with a Dutch degree can apply via Studielink before the 1 June for the master programme Kunst – en Cultuurwetenschappen/Arts & Culture. 
All lectures and student presentations are in English, all written assignments as well. Therefore all prospective students must be proficient in English. The VU courses Academic English: Grammar and Academic English: Writing (or similar courses at another university) are strongly recommended in your bachelor programme.

After you have applied for the master in Studielink, you will receive two emails with your login details for VUnet (VU studentportal). Please complete your application in VUnet. Don’t forget to fill in your specialization on VUnet : Contemporary Art History.

Next to this, you'll need to provide all the documents containing the information we need to decide whether you are admissible. The following required documents should be send to: toelating.fgw@vu.nl

  • application form (Dutch)
  • transcript of records (scan of original)
  • motivation letter
  • curriculum vitae

Your application will be reviewed by the Admission Board of Faculty of Humanities. You will be informed whether you have been admitted via Studielink.




If you have successfully completed an applied BA (HBO) in art, art education, or a comparable field, and have followed classes in art history/theory of min. 30 credits, you can apply for the Contemporary Art History premaster.

The premaster starts in September and takes one year. Beware that the premaster will be partly in Dutch and is not accessible for students who don't speak Dutch.

Please find here further information on how to apply for the premaster .

 

Stel je vraag over deze master aan prof. dr. Katja Kwastek (e-mail: k.kwastek@vu.nl).

Mastervoorlichting
Kijk hier wanneer de volgende voorlichtingsactiviteit plaatsvindt.

Admission to the Master's Arts &Culture, specialization Contemporary Art History is possible with a Bachelor's degree in art history or equivalent (such as the VU’s own MKDA programme). If you have an academic Bachelor in the Humanities (history, media studies, philosophy, cultural studies), a solid background is required in art history/theory to be admitted to the programme. After you have submitted your application to the Admission Board, it will be decided if you are eligible directly, or if you may qualify for a Pre-Masters programme. Candidates with an HBO Bachelor always have to follow a Pre-Masters programme.

Dutch students and international candidates with a Dutch degree can apply via Studielink before the 1 June for the master programme Kunst – en Cultuurwetenschappen/Arts & Culture. 
All lectures and student presentations are in English, all written assignments as well. Therefore all prospective students must be proficient in English. The VU courses Academic English: Grammar and Academic English: Writing (or similar courses at another university) are strongly recommended in your bachelor programme.

After you have applied for the master in Studielink, you will receive two emails with your login details for VUnet (VU studentportal). Please complete your application in VUnet. Don’t forget to fill in your specialization on VUnet : Contemporary Art History.

Next to this, you'll need to provide all the documents containing the information we need to decide whether you are admissible. The following required documents should be send to: toelating.fgw@vu.nl

  • application form (Dutch)
  • transcript of records (scan of original)
  • motivation letter
  • curriculum vitae

Your application will be reviewed by the Admission Board of Faculty of Humanities. You will be informed whether you have been admitted via Studielink.




If you have successfully completed an applied BA (HBO) in art, art education, or a comparable field, and have followed classes in art history/theory of min. 30 credits, you can apply for the Contemporary Art History premaster.

The premaster starts in September and takes one year. Beware that the premaster will be partly in Dutch and is not accessible for students who don't speak Dutch.

Please find here further information on how to apply for the premaster .

 

Stel je vraag over deze master aan prof. dr. Katja Kwastek (e-mail: k.kwastek@vu.nl).

Mastervoorlichting
Kijk hier wanneer de volgende voorlichtingsactiviteit plaatsvindt.

International

Admission is based on a strict selection procedure. The Faculty’s Admission Board will decide upon your admission after having evaluated your complete online application. If you have read the admission criteria below and feel you are eligible for admission, please take the following steps to submit your application. Note that the initial application procedure is fully online and that scans of your relevant documents are required.
 
Step 1: Meet admission criteria
In order to gain admission to one of our Master’s programmes, you will need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university including at least three full years of academic study amounting to a minimum of 180 ECTS or equivalent.

Specific admission requirements for the Master’s programme Arts & Culture, specialization in Contemporary Art History

Admission to the Master's Arts & Culture, specialization Contemporary Art History is possible with an academic Bachelor's degree in art history or equivalent. If you have an academic Bachelor in the Humanities (history, media studies, philosophy, cultural studies), a solid background with a minimum of 60 credits is required in art history/theory to be admitted to the program. In the latter case you have to submit an application to the admission board for assessment.
For international students the level of studied academic theory needs to be based on the course description, literature list and sample of academic writing, due to a lack of distinction between applied and academic universities abroad.

You must always present official test results proving your proficiency in English. Only students who have completed a  full high school/International Baccalaureate in English or bachelor’s degree in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, or Australia may be exempted. You can already apply online without having the test results. In case you haven’t taken a test yet we advise you to plan a test date as soon as possible. Below you will find the minimum English test scores for the English taught programmes at the Faculty of Humanities:
  • TOEFL score (score 600 paper based with a minimum of 55 in each of the subtests plus 4.0 in TWE, score 250 computer based or score 100 internet based with a minimum of 20-23 in each of the subtests).
  • IELTS score of 7.0 overall band score (with none of the separate section scores dropping below a minimum score of 6.5).  
  • Cambridge English : Cambridge Proficiency Exam A, B, C, or Cambridge Advanced Exam A, B, C.

Please refer to the language requirement page for the general requirements regarding the English language test.    

Step 2: Prepare documents and apply online

Please prepare the following documents. You can find an explanation of each document on the application page. All documents should be provided in English.
• Copy of your valid passport or ID (ID only for EU residents)
• Curriculum Vitae
• Motivation Letter
• Transcript of records
• Thesis (or another sample of academic writing)
• A description of the relevant courses you have taken during your previous higher education
• A list of all the main literature used during your previous higher education 

After having prepared the required documents, please follow the online application procedure. After you have completed the application, our international student advisors will contact you via email.

Step 3: Await decision on admission
The admission board will review your application as soon as it is complete. Normally this takes about four weeks, but it might take longer in busy periods so be sure to apply as soon as possible. If you gain admission, you will receive a letter of conditional admission by email. You can start planning your move to Amsterdam!

Step 4: Finalize your registration and move to Amsterdam!
Make sure to finalize your registration as a student before the start of the programme. Here you will find an explanation what to do after admission. When all conditions are met you will be ready to start your programme at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam!

Further information about;
Accommodation
Visa
Tuition fees

Contact for International Degree Students
For detailed questions about the Master’s programmes or the application procedure contact your International Student Advisor at the International Office:

Irena Bunic  
Tel + 31 (0)20 59 85252
E admissionsfh@vu.nl

 

 

Programme
For more information on the programme, contact prof. dr. Katja Kwastek (e-mail:k.kwastek@vu.nl).

Application
For detailed questions about the Master’s programmes or the application procedure contact your International Student Advisor at the International Office:
Irena Bunic        
T: +31 (20) 59 85252
E:admissionsfh@vu.nl

Information days
Meet us in Amsterdam!

Admission is based on a strict selection procedure. The Faculty’s Admission Board will decide upon your admission after having evaluated your complete online application. If you have read the admission criteria below and feel you are eligible for admission, please take the following steps to submit your application. Note that the initial application procedure is fully online and that scans of your relevant documents are required.
 
Step 1: Meet admission criteria
In order to gain admission to one of our Master’s programmes, you will need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university including at least three full years of academic study amounting to a minimum of 180 ECTS or equivalent.

Specific admission requirements for the Master’s programme Arts & Culture, specialization in Contemporary Art History

Admission to the Master's Arts & Culture, specialization Contemporary Art History is possible with an academic Bachelor's degree in art history or equivalent. If you have an academic Bachelor in the Humanities (history, media studies, philosophy, cultural studies), a solid background with a minimum of 60 credits is required in art history/theory to be admitted to the program. In the latter case you have to submit an application to the admission board for assessment.
For international students the level of studied academic theory needs to be based on the course description, literature list and sample of academic writing, due to a lack of distinction between applied and academic universities abroad.

You must always present official test results proving your proficiency in English. Only students who have completed a  full high school/International Baccalaureate in English or bachelor’s degree in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, or Australia may be exempted. You can already apply online without having the test results. In case you haven’t taken a test yet we advise you to plan a test date as soon as possible. Below you will find the minimum English test scores for the English taught programmes at the Faculty of Humanities:
  • TOEFL score (score 600 paper based with a minimum of 55 in each of the subtests plus 4.0 in TWE, score 250 computer based or score 100 internet based with a minimum of 20-23 in each of the subtests).
  • IELTS score of 7.0 overall band score (with none of the separate section scores dropping below a minimum score of 6.5).  
  • Cambridge English : Cambridge Proficiency Exam A, B, C, or Cambridge Advanced Exam A, B, C.

Please refer to the language requirement page for the general requirements regarding the English language test.    

Step 2: Prepare documents and apply online

Please prepare the following documents. You can find an explanation of each document on the application page. All documents should be provided in English.
• Copy of your valid passport or ID (ID only for EU residents)
• Curriculum Vitae
• Motivation Letter
• Transcript of records
• Thesis (or another sample of academic writing)
• A description of the relevant courses you have taken during your previous higher education
• A list of all the main literature used during your previous higher education 

After having prepared the required documents, please follow the online application procedure. After you have completed the application, our international student advisors will contact you via email.

Step 3: Await decision on admission
The admission board will review your application as soon as it is complete. Normally this takes about four weeks, but it might take longer in busy periods so be sure to apply as soon as possible. If you gain admission, you will receive a letter of conditional admission by email. You can start planning your move to Amsterdam!

Step 4: Finalize your registration and move to Amsterdam!
Make sure to finalize your registration as a student before the start of the programme. Here you will find an explanation what to do after admission. When all conditions are met you will be ready to start your programme at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam!

Further information about;
Accommodation
Visa
Tuition fees

Contact for International Degree Students
For detailed questions about the Master’s programmes or the application procedure contact your International Student Advisor at the International Office:

Irena Bunic  
Tel + 31 (0)20 59 85252
E admissionsfh@vu.nl

 

 

Programme
For more information on the programme, contact prof. dr. Katja Kwastek (e-mail:k.kwastek@vu.nl).

Application
For detailed questions about the Master’s programmes or the application procedure contact your International Student Advisor at the International Office:
Irena Bunic        
T: +31 (20) 59 85252
E:admissionsfh@vu.nl

Information days
Meet us in Amsterdam!