VCE Art introduces the role of art, in all forms of media, in contemporary and historical cultures and societies. Students build an understanding of how artists, through their practice and the artworks they produce, communicate their experiences, ideas, values, beliefs and viewpoints. In this study, students view artworks and investigate the working practices of artist from different cultures and periods of time.

VCE Art challenges students to articulate their understanding of the meanings of messages contained within artworks and to examine the effects of artworks upon the viewer. Students develop skills in research, analysis, art history and criticism to interpret and debate the ideas and issues that are raised in artworks and, in response, they form and support personal points of view. Through exploration and experimentation, students develop skills in creative, critical, reflective and analytical thinking to explore, develop and refine visual artworks in a range of art forms, and to develop an awareness of appropriate health and safety practices.

VCE Art equips students with practical and theoretical skills that enable them to follow pathways into tertiary art education or further training in a broad spectrum of art related careers. VCE Art also offers students opportunities for personal development and encourages them to make an ongoing contribution to the culture of their community through participation in lifelong art making.

Units of Study

Unit 1:

Artworks, Experience & Meaning

In this unit students focus on artworks as objects and examine how art elements, art principles, materials and techniques and artistic processes communicate meaning. They examine artists in different societies and cultures, and historical periods, and develop their own viewpoints about the meanings and messages of artworks. Students explore the practices of artists who have been inspired by ideas relating to personal and cultural identity. They study at least three artists and at least one artwork from each of the selected artists.

Students apply the Structural Framework and the Personal Framework to interpret the meanings and messages of artworks and to document the reflection of their own ideas and art making. They learn how to formulate and substantiate personal opinions about artworks. In their practical work, students explore areas of personal interest and the characteristics of materials, techniques and the art process. Students develop an understanding of the use of visual language to document their exploration and development of ideas, techniques and processes in a visual diary.

Unit 2:

Artworks & Contemporary Culture

In this unit students use the Cultural Framework and the Contemporary Framework to examine the different ways that artists interpret and present social and personal issues in their artistic practice. They apply the Cultural Framework and the Contemporary Framework as appropriate to the selection of artworks.

In students’ own artistic practice, they continue to use the art process and visual language to explore and experiment with materials and techniques and to develop personal and creative responses. They explore the way cultural contexts and contemporary ideas and approaches to art have influenced their artwork.

Students investigate how artworks can be created as forms of expression for specific cultural and contemporary contexts. Students may research contemporary artworks, public art, community and collaborative artworks, art produced for festivals, newspaper cartoons, art prizes, curated exhibitions, performance art, ephemeral and environmental art and street art. Artworks can celebrate specific events, ideas or beliefs or they can commemorate people, institutions, social movements and events. They can reinforce a social group’s sense of power and authority or they can challenge social attitudes and assumptions. Students begin to see the importance of the cultural context of artworks and analyse the varying social functions that art can serve.

Students use the Contemporary Framework to examine artworks from different periods of time and cultures. In current contemporary artistic practice, many artists have reinterpreted traditional art forms and familiar representation, re-examining the traditions of realism and abstraction in conceptual artworks that challenge ideas about art. Contemporary art and ideas may involve diverse and alternative approaches to making and presenting art. These practices may also include practices of appropriation, collaboration, participation and questioning of the notion of authorship of artworks.

While the focus of this unit is on the Cultural Framework and Contemporary Framework, students should continue to apply aspects of the Structural Framework and Personal Framework where relevant in the analysis of artworks. In the documentation of their own artwork, students select and use appropriate aspects of all the Analytical Frameworks.

Unit 3:

Artworks, Ideas & Values

In this unit students study selected artists who have produced works before 1990 and since 1990. Students use the Analytical Frameworks for analysing and interpreting the meaning of artworks. Applied together, these Analytical Frameworks enable students to appreciate how an artwork may contain different aspects and layers of meaning and to acknowledge the validity of diverse interpretations.

Students link their growing theoretical understanding of art in Area of Study 1 to their own practice in Area of Study 2. Students apply imagination and creativity to develop their ideas through the art process and visual language. Their art making is supported through investigation, exploration and application of a variety of materials, techniques and processes. Students develop confidence in using the language and content of the Analytical Frameworks in their reflection of the structural, personal, cultural and contemporary aspects of their own developing artworks.

In this unit, contemporary art is considered to be that which has been produced since 1990 and reflects the current way some artists create artworks with a new approach to media, techniques, purpose and presentation. Contemporary art and ideas may involve diverse and alternative approaches to making and presenting art. Diverse ideas and approaches are explored in relation to societal changes, including postmodernism, post colonialism, globalisation and environmental issues.

Unit 4:

Artworks, Ideas & Viewpoints

In this unit students study artworks and develop and expand upon personal points of view. They support their point of view and informed opinions about art ideas and issues with evidence. They build their learning and conceptual understanding around the discussion of broad themes, ideas and issues related to the role of art in society and consider how ideas and issues are communicated through artworks. They discuss how art may affect and change the way people think. Attributed commentaries and viewpoints may include information from visiting artists and speakers, lecturers, educators or guides in galleries, film, pod or vodcasts, online programs, printed and online material in newspapers, periodicals, journals, catalogues or texts by art critics, curators and historians. Sources should be reliable, recognised and relevant and reflect viewpoints that enrich the discussion about the artworks in relation to an art idea and related issues.

From this research students choose an art idea and issue to explore. Students select the artwork/s of at least one artist not previously studied in Unit 3, and use this artwork/s and selected related commentaries and viewpoints to discuss the chosen art idea and related issues.

In relation to their developing artwork, students continue to build upon the ideas and concepts begun in Unit 3 and further develop their artistic practice. They focus on the development of a body of work using the art process that demonstrates creativity and imagination, the evolution and resolution of ideas and the realisation of appropriate concepts, knowledge and skills. At the end of this unit, students present a body of work and at least one finished artwork accompanied by documentation of artistic practice. Students select appropriate aspects of the Analytical Frameworks as a structure for the reflection and documentation of their artworks.

Example pathways
  • Art Conservator,
  • Art Director
  • Art Teacher,
  • Art Therapist,
  • Artist,
  • Curator,
  • Graphic Artist,
  • Illustrator,
  • Photographer,
  • Textile Designer,
  • Web Designer

This is a guide only, please see the careers team for pathway planning advice.


There are no prerequisites for entry to Units 1, 2 and 3. Students must undertake Unit 3 prior to undertaking Unit 4.

Unit 3 and 4 Assessment
  • Percentage contributions to the study score in VCE Art are as follows:

    • Units 3 and 4 School-assessed Coursework: 20 per cent.
    • Units 3 and 4 School-assessed Task: 50 per cent
    • End-of-year examination: 30 per cent

This subject requires the completion of a folio as part of assessment.