The Fine and Decorative Art and Design curriculum is based on a simple belief: the fundamental currency of the art world is objects. The Master’s program examines the diverse cultural histories of objects, makers, and markets of each period, focusing on providing a strong foundation in the history of art, iconography, materials, and techniques in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Students learn how to engage directly with the marketplace and gain essential skills in connoisseurship, valuation, and curation, which are necessary to study and evaluate objects. Whether in sales, valuation, art history, or cultural institution management at museums, galleries, or auction houses — graduates of the Master’s degree program in Fine and Decorative Art and Design are prepared for a range of careers and leave with an expanded professional network.
MA in Fine and Decorative Art and Design students analyze a range of objects dating from the 17th century to the 21st century. Students examine objects from a stylistic point of view, but not neglecting the wider historical, social, economic and cultural factors which have influenced the production of these art works. The program aims to develop critical understanding of the terms “fine art,” “decorative art,” and “design” and of the synergies and divergences between art objects across a range of media and periods. Students will spend much of the course looking at objects in a variety of settings, including online and conditions permitting in-person at museums, art fairs, auction houses, and collections. Students are encouraged to formulate opinions on the aesthetic, cultural, social and commercial value, of what they see. The knowledge and experience gained equips them for employment in many different areas of the international art world and alumni can be found working in auction houses, museums, commercial galleries, financial institutions, private and public foundations in many different countries.
The Master’s degree is awarded for 30 taught credits across semesters one and two, as well as the completion of a 6-credit thesis or capstone project over the course of the third semester.
In the first semester, Navigating the Art World brings students from all MAs together for faculty lectures and expert panel discussions to investigate the inextricable connections between art and business in today’s economy. In addition to a full course load, students participate in two in-person or virtual field study trips in semesters one and two. Students may elect to undertake an internship to gain practical skills or take one elective to broaden their expertise.
The MA in Fine and Decorative Art and Design culminates in a capstone project which can take the form of a traditional, long-form academic thesis, or a more flexible Master’s Project. Students may also elect to extend their studies an additional semester and either transfer to the Institute’s campus in London or return to New York and pursue core courses in either Art Business or Contemporary Art.