Artists including Jeremy Deller, Cornelia Parker and Anish Kapoor have expressed their delight and relief at the news that Pearson is to develop a new A-level in art history for teaching from September 2017.
The decision comes after AQA, the last exam board in England to offer an art history A-level, recently announced that it is to cease offering the qualification from the beginning of the next academic year.
In response, a campaign to save the A level was launched by the Association of Art Historians, with support from The Courtauld Institute of Art, the University of York, the National Gallery, Tate, and the Royal Academy of Arts.
Responding to Pearson’s decision, Jeremy Deller said: “A good day for art and culture. Art history is the study of power, politics, identity and humanity, it makes perfect sense to keep the exam.”
Cornelia Parker said: “As a working-class girl, receiving free school dinners, I studied art history. It has hugely enriched my life and career and hopefully those of countless students I passed the knowledge on to, during the 15 years I spent teaching at art school.
“Now more than ever, as we face Brexit, we have to fully understand what our cultural capital is and how we can best use it. We should be widening our cultural knowledge not shrinking it.”
Anish Kapoor expressed “huge relief” at the news, adding: “Art and art history are the study of what inspires and guides the poetic in us how could we imagine an education with out them.”
Others in the visual arts have also welcomed the news. Tate director Nicholas Serota said: “Art history is a discipline that opens doors to history, geography, social and economic issues and aesthetics.
“I am delighted that it will continue to be offered as an A-level for the benefit of young people in the future. We are grateful to the Department of Education and the Culture Minister for their work in making it happen.”
National Gallery director Dr Gabriele Finaldi has also welcomed the decision: “The arts are one of the great strengths of the UK and I am pleased that A-level provision in art history will not be interrupted for students starting sixth form in 2017.
“The National Gallery is keen to work with schools that already offer or are thinking of introducing the history of art in their teaching.”
Event at Tate Britain. Photo: courtesy Tate