AP Art History

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About the Course

Explore the history of art across the globe from prehistory to the present. You’ll analyze works of art through observation, discussion, reading, and research.

Skills You'll Learn

  • Evaluating works of art from different eras and cultures

  • Seeing connections to artistic traditions, styles, or practices in a work of art

  • Developing a theory about the meaning of a work of art and explaining and supporting your interpretation

Equivalency and Prerequisites

College Course Equivalent

A two-semester college introductory art history course

Recommended Prerequisites


Exam Date

Mon, May 6, 2024

12 PM Local

AP Art History Exam

This is the regularly scheduled date for the AP Art History Exam.

About the Units

The course content outlined below is organized into commonly taught units of study that provide one possible sequence for the course. Your teacher may choose to organize the course content differently based on local priorities and preferences.

Course Content

Unit 1: Global Prehistory, 30,000–500 BCE

You’ll learn about the origins of human art across the globe during the stone ages.

Topics may include:

  • Human migration and a survey of prehistoric art techniques
  • Theories and methods of early art making
  • Collaboration with other disciplines, archaeology, and an introduction to historical interpretation

On The Exam

approximately 4% of multiple-choice score

Unit 2: Ancient Mediterranean, 3500 BCE–300 CE

You’ll study a broad range of artistic works from the civilizations of the ancient Near East and Egypt, as well as the Greek, Etruscan, and Roman cultures.

Topics may include:

  • The cultural context of ancient empires
  • The role of religion and royalty in early art
  • Exchange of ideas and the influence of outside cultures
  • The literary legacy and ongoing influence on artistic traditions

On The Exam

approximately 15% of multiple-choice score

Unit 3: Early Europe and Colonial Americas, 200–1750 CE

You’ll explore the evolution of art from the early middle ages through the mid-18th century in Europe and the Americas.

Topics may include:

  • Influences on Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Art
  • The Age of Exploration and colonialism
  • Naturalism and developments in visual form
  • Patronage and continued religious influence

On The Exam

approximately 21% of multiple-choice score

Unit 4: Later Europe and Americas, 1750–1980 CE

You’ll study the effect of rapid societal change on art from the modern period in Europe and the Americas.

Topics may include:

  • The effect of developments like industrialization and urbanization
  • Impacts of modern scientific and philosophical thinking
  • Modern styles and revival movements
  • The rise of corporate patronage, art galleries, and museums
  • New technologies, media, and art forms
  • Globalization and expressions of cultural exchange

On The Exam

approximately 21% of multiple-choice score

Unit 5: Indigenous Americas, 1000 BCE–1980 CE

You’ll understand the roots and evolution of indigenous American art from the ancient civilizations of Central and South America to Native North American societies.

Topics may include:

  • Ancient American architecture and artifacts
  • Functional and ceremonial roles of art
  • The interaction between natural environment, materials, and depictions
  • The influence of colonialism

On The Exam

approximately 6% of multiple-choice score

Unit 6: Africa, 1100–1980 CE

You’ll explore the diversity of African art and the role it played in the many and varied societies on the continent.

Topics may include:

  • The variety of media, materials, and techniques
  • The purpose of art from daily use to performance
  • Evolving global interpretations and influence of African art

On The Exam

approximately 6% of multiple-choice score

Unit 7: West and Central Asia, 500 BCE–1980 CE

You’ll learn about the techniques, materials, and evolution of art throughout West and Central Asia.

Topics may include:

  • The role of religious beliefs in art styles
  • The effect of trade and global influences
  • The style and production of decorative objects
  • Varying uses of figural imagery

On The Exam

approximately 4% of multiple-choice score

Unit 8: South, East, and Southeast Asia, 300 BCE–1980 CE

You’ll study the tradition of Asian art from prehistoric times to modern works.

Topics may include:

  • Advances in technology and the effect on media and techniques
  • Unique art forms and imagery associated with Asian religions
  • The role of court life and social stratification
  • The effect of trade and cultural interchanges

On The Exam

approximately 8% of multiple-choice score

Unit 9: The Pacific, 700-1980 CE

You’ll study the wide-ranging types of art from the vast network of islands in the Pacific Ocean stretching from Australia to Hawaii.

Topics may include:

  • Forms of and materials used in Pacific art
  • Ritual and cultural significance of artifacts
  • History of Pacific island civilization, trade, and migration patterns
  • The role of the ocean, and familial, religious, and historical depictions

On The Exam

approximately 4% of multiple-choice score

Unit 10: Global Contemporary, 1980 CE to Present

You’ll study the many forms of modern art from across the globe.

Topics may include:

  • Transcendence of traditional forms of art and technology
  • Diverse venues and audiences for art 
  • Subverting expectations and the “mash-up” as an act of creation
  • Global influences on art
  • New types of artists and new theories of criticism

On The Exam

approximately 11% of multiple-choice score

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Course Resources

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