Before I can elaborate on how dominant the role of Art and its history is in Germany, I should point out that theeducational system varies from state to state. Even between different schools or teachers within one state or school there can be a big difference in teaching Art History. Therefore, I can only give you a rather subjective point of view on this topic.From first grade on, I always had Art classes. At first they were only focused on practical works of course, but the theoretical part started playing a
bigger role in high school. The first time I actively remember talking about Art History was when we went to a museum in a bigger city close by. We got a little quiz that we were supposed to fill out and whoever did best won lunch at an Italian restaurant with the Art teacher. It meant that we had to find certain painting, sculptures etc. by certain artists and then had to find out which époque they lived and worked in. It was a lot of fun and I think I was about thirteen years old when this took place.
In the following year we had to make a wooden miniature house using a certain style which had been especially common in Germany. Our teacher pointed out the most important features about the style and we learned about its development throughout time, e.g. how the materials they used change. So when we were younger, practical art and Art History were combined and the aforementioned examples were only some of the works we did. When we hit the last two years of high school, however, we had actual Art History lessons. Usually we had a 45 minute session every two weeks, looking at painting, sculptures, you name it by important artists of different époques and learned how and why they where influential. Again we also incorporated those ideas into our own practical works. We for example had to try to interpret some paintings new which was usually a pretty hard task and – at least for me – impossible to do.
I would say that starting university I had sufficient knowledge about Art History to cover general knowledge, but nothing beyond that point. These skills, however, have proven helpful many times. Not only in cross word puzzles, but also because one of my majors is History which often involves Art History as well. My home university also offers both a Bachelor’s as well as a Master’s degree in Art History, which covers all you have to know about Art History and to make a career out of it. Careers you can look into with an Art History degree in my country cover following fields: archives, museums, care and preservation of ancient monuments, teaching and researching, journalism, media, publishing companies, cultural management, art-dealing etc.
Finally I would say that depending on the school you go to Art and Art History are more or less important. Generally, it is easier to major in Art History than in Practical Arts, because Art History does not have any prerequisites someone has to fulfill before they can study it. Practical Art, however, usually includes a long selective process.