Art of late antiquity and the Middle Ages

From the periods studied at the Department of Art History, late antiquity and the Middle Ages are the most remote eras for contemporary students. The works of art created at this time seem not only distant from current aesthetics, but also from the aesthetics of the early modern times. Moreover, focusing on medieval art means actively working with at least four contemporary languages and with at least one dead language. So why study this time period?

The remote point of view allows us to see things in a much broader context and to understand them differently than we understand our world. But this "different" view of the Middle Ages can also help us look "differently" at today's world and to understand it better. Furthermore, the visual strength of the Middle Ages lies in its expressive ability. The aim of medieval works is to communicate or to enable communication – both in a very striking and different way than was done in the following centuries. Finally and above all, studying the Middle Ages means immersing yourself in the past and touching long-lost objects. Students of the Department of Art History fly, go by train or walk in order to meet medieval objects from the Caucasus to Turkey and from France to Greece.

At the Department of Art History, we specifically focus on Central European art and art of the whole Mediterranean territory (and in this, we are unique in the Czech Republic). So we look at works of art that are created thanks to the encounters of the West, Byzantium and the Islamic caliphates. We study the movement of peoples - today we would say "migration" - and how intensely it develops European culture. We devote ourselves not only to painting, architecture, and sculpture but also to goldsmithing, ivories or manuscripts… The study of the Middle Ages is not easy, but it can become a thrilling adventure.

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