Something occurred to me recently. My background is in the visual arts, and most of the work on my graduate degree and teaching assistance is in the area of art history. Personally, I’ve been moving away from art history (in the sense of approaching art as a historian) and moving towards art theory. The problem is, the theories used in most art analysis aren’t really all that sophisticated: there’s aesthetic critique which is useful in determining what is good and how something can be made more good, artistically speaking. There’s also historical discussion–putting work in a historical discourse. Outside of that, I’m concerned that either there isn’t much else, or whatever else there is, it’s not really commonly used.
There’s also a good deal of art criticism that addresses visual art, though not exclusively. For example, one can study Marxist themes in art, but that’s not different from discussing Marxist themes in literature or film.
However, comics can be considered as a visual art medium, and a lot of the techniques used to analyze comics on that level are useful for analyzing “high” visual art–semiotic, structural and psychological analysis are a good example of this. Perhaps that’ll be a goal of mine this fall semester in assisting in art history, considering how these analytical tools gleaned from comics analysis can be carried over to visual arts, and vice versa.