Is "art history" the name of a discipline, or an area of interest, that is practiced throughout the world? Or is it a Western interest, currently spreading along with capitalism?

From the Keynote presentation: a map of art history departments worldwide, showign a slight majority of departments are in Europe. There are less than half as many German-speaking departments as English-speaking departments.

The same data, with the numbers shown in proportional font sizes. Australia and New Zealand nearly disappear.

Another way to measure the spread of art history is to count refereed (peer-reviewed) journals. Here I have divided Europe east of Germany and west of the Czech Republic, to reflect a sharp falling-off of peeer-reviewed journals. This measurement is partly dependent on regional customs, because in some parts of the world the disicplinarity of art history is not linked to the idea of peer reviewing.

Art History as a Global Discipline

From the book Is Art History Global?

This essay is reprinted in the book Is Art History Global? vol. 3 of The Art Seminar  (New York: Routledge, 2006). For more on that book, see the Academic Books page for the Art Seminar series. The essay is posted here because it began as an independent essay, and continues to grow as a Keynote (Powerpoint) presentation: for the current version, see the Lectures page.

The question of art history's worldwide dissemination changes rapidly: this essay is a starting point, weighing some argument for and against the notion that the practices collectively known as art history have become global. The Keynote lecture (unpublished) contains analyses of the most recent literature. See also the book, Chinese Landscape Painting as Western Art History.

The same data as in the two mapes at the upper left. Western Europe produces slightly more art history than North America.

By using Ulrich's, a large database of refereed journals, it is posisble to measure the amount of art history per capita in different countries. This list is full of minor inaccuracies: I have yet to present this material in any country and have the results confirmed; on the other hand it is seldom off by very much.

Here, for example, Portugal is missing its refereed journal; Ireland may be over-counted. This is one of my favorite graphics to show in lectures, because each time something on it is found to be in error. (In the Courtauld, someone questioned the count for Slovakia; in Singapore, someone questioned several Asian countries...) But each time, the plausible corrections were close to the figures here, so I think it might be safe to say this is correct to an order of magnitude. Incidentally: the Netherlands "wins" with the most art history per capita. When I gave this material in Leiden, some people in the audience applauded: but it could be asked whether the Netherlands, or any country, needs quite so much art history. In China the same data indicates the relatively small proportion of the Chinese public that is involved with art: the size of the art scene there, as John Clark has observed, is related to the overall population.