Practice of Art
An introduction to two-dimensional and three-dimensional studio disciplines with related lectures and readings. Historical and contemporary references will be used throughout the course to enhance and increase the student’s understanding of the visual vocabulary of art. How the comprehension of differing visual practices directly relates to personal investigations and interpretations within the covered disciplines of drawing, sculpture, painting, photography and printmaking. This includes applying elements of composition, weight, line, value, perspective, form, spatial concerns, color theory and graphics. Work will be developed from exercises based on direct observation and memory, realism and abstraction. Formal and conceptual concerns will be an integral aspect of the development of studio work. Class time will be a balance of lectures, demonstrations, exercises, discussions and critiques. Weekly homework assignments will consist of studio work and reading assignments. Two two-hour class sessions per week. No prior studio experience is required.
Not open to students who have taken ARHA 111 or 215. Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Resident Artist Gloman.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
This course provides a survey of major artworks produced during the twentieth century in Europe and the Americas, as well as an introduction to their social and historical contexts, their theoretical justifications and critical receptions, and their varied functions. Toward these ends, we will discuss issues of agency and authenticity with regard to modernist and postmodernist artistic practice--from the utopianism of Constructivism to the subversions of Dada; from Abstract Expressionism to conceptual art; and from Fluxus performance to more recent trends. By combining an overview of the period with select in-depth case studies (including influential figures such as Kandinsky, Pollock, Beuys, Warhol, LeWitt, and Bourgeois) the course provides a forum for the development of visual (and verbal) acumen—how to look at, think about, and discuss the visual arts.
Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2013-14.2023-24: Not offered
An introductory course in the fundamentals of drawing. The class will be based in experience and observation, exploring various techniques and media in order to understand the basic formal vocabularies and conceptual issues in drawing; subject matter will include still life, landscape, interior, and figure. Weekly assignments, weekly critiques, final portfolio. Two three-hour sessions per week.
Limited to 20 students. Fall and spring semesters. Resident Artist Gloman and Visiting Lecturer Culhane.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
Art and Architecture of Europe from 300 to 1500 C.E.
(Offered as ARHA 132 and EUST 132.) By learning how specifically to encounter the transcendent symbolism of the catacombs of Rome, the devotional intensity of monastic book illumination, the grandeur and vision of the first basilica of St. Peter, the Byzantine church of Hagia Sophia, and selected monasteries and cathedrals of France, we will trace the artistic realization of the spiritual idea of Jewish and Christian history from the transformation of the Roman Empire in the fourth century C.E. to the apocalyptic year of 1500 C.E. Several prophetic masterpieces by Albrecht Dürer, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti completed on the very eve of the modern world will reveal a profound “forgotten awareness” crucial to our collective and private well-being but long obscured by the “renaissance” bias that called this period “medieval.” Two class meetings per week.
Omitted 2013-14. Professor Upton.2023-24: Not offered
Material Culture of American Homes
(Offered as HIST 242 [USP], ARCH 242, and AHRA 133) Using architecture, artifacts, visual evidence and documentary sources, the course examines social and cultural forces affecting the design and use of domestic architecture, home furnishings, and domestic technology in the eastern United States from 1600 to 1960. In addition to providing a survey of American domestic architecture, the course provides an introduction to the study of American material culture. Field trips to Historic Deerfield, Old Sturbridge Village, Hartford, Connecticut, and sites in Amherst form an integral part of the course. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2013-14. Professor K. Sweeney.2023-24: Not offered
Art and Architecture of Europe from 1400 to 1800
(Offered as ARHA 135 and EUST 135.) This course is an introduction to painting, sculpture, and architecture of the early modern period. The goal of the course is to identify artistic innovations that characterize European art from the Renaissance to the French Revolution, and to situate the works of art historically, by examining the intellectual, political, religious, and social currents that contributed to their creation. In addition to tracing stylistic change within the oeuvre of individual artists and understanding its meaning, we will investigate the varied character of art, its interpretation, and its context in different regions, including Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.
Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Courtright.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2023
American Art and Architecture, 1600 to Present
Through the study of form, content, and context (and the relationship among these categories) of selected works of painting, architecture, and sculpture made in colonial America and the United States from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, this course will probe changing American social and cultural values embodied in art. We will study individual artists as well as thematic issues, with particular attention to the production and reception of art in a developing nation, the transformation of European architectural styles into a new environment, the construction of race in ante- and post-bellum America, and the identification of an abstract style of art with the political ascendance of the United States after World War II. Introductory level.
Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Clark.2023-24: Not offered
Visual Arts and Orature in Africa
(Offered as BLST 313 [A] and ARHA 138.) In the traditionally non-literate societies of Africa, verbal and visual arts constitute two systems of communication. The performance of verbal art and the display of visual art are governed by social and cultural rules. We will examine the epistemological process of understanding cultural symbols, of visualizing narratives, or proverbs, and of verbalizing sculptures or designs. Focusing on the Yoruba people of West Africa, the course will attempt to interpret the language of their verbal and visual arts and their interrelations in terms of cultural cosmologies, artistic performances, and historical changes in perception and meaning. We will explore new perspectives in the critical analysis of African verbal and visual arts, and their interdependence as they support each other through mutual references and allusions.
Omitted 2013-14. Professor Abiodun.2023-24: Not offered
The Modern World
(Offered as ARHA 145 and EUST 145.) This course will explore the self-conscious invention of modernism in painting, sculpture and architecture, from the visual clarion calls of the French Revolution to the performance art and earthworks of "art now." As we move from Goya, David, Monet and Picasso to Kahlo, Kiefer and beyond, we will be attentive to changing responses toward a historical past or societal present, the stance toward popular and alien cultures, the radical redefinition of all artistic media, changing representations of nature and gender, as well as the larger problem of mythologies and meaning in the modern period. Study of original objects and a range of primary texts (artists’ letters, diaries, manifestos, contemporary criticism) will be enhanced with readings from recent historical and theoretical secondary sources.
Limited to 75 students. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Staller.2023-24: Not offered
Art From the Realm of Dreams
(Offered as ARHA 146, EUST 146, and WAGS 113.) We begin with a long-standing Spanish obsession with dreams, analyzing images and texts by Calderón, Quevedo and Goya. We next will consider a range of dream workers from a range of cultures, centuries, and disciplines--among them Apollinaire, Freud, Breton, Dalí, Carrington, and Kahlo--as well as others working around the globe in our own time.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Staller.2023-24: Not offered
Arts of China
(Offered as ARHA 147 and ASLC 143.) An introduction to the history of Chinese art from its beginnings in neolithic times until the end of the twentieth century. Topics will include the ritual bronze vessels of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the Chinese transformation of the Buddha image, imperial patronage of painting during the Song dynasty and the development of the literati tradition of painting and calligraphy. Particular weight will be given to understanding the cultural context of Chinese art.
Fall semester. Professor Morse.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2013, Spring 2018, Spring 2022, Fall 2023
Arts of Japan
(Offered as ARHA 148 and ASLC 123.) A survey of the history of Japanese art from neolithic times to the present. Topics will include Buddhist art and its ritual context, the aristocratic arts of the Heian court, monochromatic ink painting and the arts related to the Zen sect, the prints and paintings of the Floating World and contemporary artists and designers such as Ando Tadao and Miyake Issey. The class will focus on the ways Japan adopts and adapts foreign cultural traditions. There will be field trips to look at works in museums and private collections in the region.
Omitted 2013-14. Professor Morse.2023-24: Not offered
Survey of African Art
(Offered as ARHA 149 and BLST 123 [A].) An introduction to the ancient and traditional arts of Africa. Special attention will be given to the archaeological importance of the rock art paintings found in such disparate areas as the Sahara and South Africa, achievements in the architectural and sculptural art in clay of the early people in the area now called Zimbabwe and the aesthetic qualities of the terracotta and bronze sculptures of the Nok, Igbo-Ukwe, Ife and Benin cultures in West Africa, which date from the second century B.C.E. to the sixteenth century C.E. The study will also pursue a general socio-cultural survey of traditional arts of the major ethnic groups of Africa.
Spring semester. Professor Abiodun.2023-24: Not offered
This course is a history of western architecture from Classical Greece to Post-Modern America in the form of relatively detailed considerations of two dozen buildings. After introductory discussions of the nature of architecture and various structural materials and systems, each class will be devoted to a single building. This approach offers the scope to demonstrate that works of architecture can be historically important for different reasons: some conclude a line of stylistic or technical development, others initiate them; some are structurally daring while others are quite unadventurous; some were built to solve standard problems, others to solve new and unprecedented ones.
The lectures are intended as both introductions to particular buildings and examples of the varied ways architecture can be considered. What makes specific buildings great will be emphasized rather than how they fit into an apparently inevitable development.
Among the buildings to be studied are: the Parthenon, the Pantheon, Constantine’s church of Saint Peter, Hagia Sophia, Chartres cathedral, The Ospedale degli Innocenti in Florence, Sant’Andrea in Mantua, Bramante’s Saint Peter’s, Saint Eustache in Paris, the Villa Rotunda, Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza in Rome, the Petit Trianon at Versailles, the Crystal Palace, the Paris Opera, the Guaranty Building in Buffalo, Villa Savoye near Paris, Fallingwater, the Seagram Building in New York and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Lieberman.
2023-24: Not offered
Visual Culture of the Islamic World
(Offered as ARHS 152 and ASLC 142.) This introductory course explores the architecture, manuscripts, painting, textiles, decorative arts, material culture, and popular art of the Islamic world, from the late seventh century C.E., touching on the present. It follows a basic chronology, but is structured primarily through thematic issues central to the study of Islamic visual culture, including, but not limited to: orality and textuality, geometry and ornament, optics and perception, sacred and royal space, the image and aniconism, modernity and tradition, and artistic exchange with Europe, China, and beyond. The class will focus on the relationships between visual culture, history, and literature, analyzing specific sites or objects, for example the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, carved ivory boxes from Spain, luxury manuscripts from Cairo, gardens of Iran, and contemporary art from Pakistan, alongside primary and secondary texts. Films, audio recordings, and field-trips to local museum collections will supplement assigned readings and lectures. Participation in class discussion, a significant component of the course, is expected. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Five College Fellow Rice.Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2023
Convergent Histories (Art Since 1950)
This course is a survey of contemporary art since 1950. It examines the dissolution of high art as a concept and looks at how media, from ceramics and textiles to photography, video and media art, came to contest that notion even while aspiring to it. In light of the convergence of discipline-specific and other cultural histories with modernism, this course considers counter modernisms and the deconstruction and revision of Western art history. Students will also be introduced to the global contemporary art world and begin to explore how art operates aesthetically, politically, emotionally, and intellectually. Through the work of selected artists, critics, curators, historians, and theorists, students will investigate a range of processes, concepts and issues that are important in global culture today.
Limited to 50 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Falk.2023-24: Not offered
An introduction to intaglio and relief processes including drypoint, engraving, etching, aquatint, monoprints, woodcut and linocut. The development of imagery incorporating conceptual concerns in conjunction with specific techniques will be a crucial element in the progression of prints. Historical and contemporary references will be discussed to further enhance understanding of various techniques. Critiques will be held regularly with each assignment; critical analysis of prints utilizing correct printmaking terminology is expected. A final project of portfolio making and a portfolio exchange of an editioned print are required.
Requisite: ARHA 102 or 111, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester Senior Resident Artist Garand. Spring semester Visiting Professor Tolley.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
An introduction to the practice of sculpture in a contemporary and historical context. A series of directed projects will address various material and technical processes such as construction, modeling, casting and carving. Other projects will focus primarily on conceptual and critical strategies over material concerns. By the end of the course, students will have developed a strong understanding of basic principles of contemporary sculpture and have acquired basic skills and knowledge of materials and techniques. Further, students will be expected to have formed an awareness of conceptual and critical issues in current sculptural practice, establishing a foundation for continued training and self-directed work in sculpture and other artistic disciplines. Two three-hour class meetings per week.
Requisite: ARHA 102 or 111 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 14 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Keller.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
An introduction to the fundamentals of the pictorial organization of painting. Form, space, color and pattern, abstracted from nature, are explored through the discipline of drawing by means of paint manipulation. Slide lectures, demonstrations, individual and group critiques are regular components of the studio sessions. Two three-hour meetings per week.
Requisite: ARHA 102 or 111 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Sweeney.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
Digital Constructions: Intermediate Architectural Design Studio
(Offered as EUST 216, ARCH 216, and ARHA 216.) In this intermediate architectural design studio we will explore the intellectual and creative process of making and representing architectural space. The focus will be to explore the boundaries of architecture--physically and theoretically, historically and presently--through digital media. Our process will prompt us to dissect 20th-century European architectures and urban spaces and to explore their relationships to contemporary, global issues. The capstone of the course will be a significant design project (TBD) requiring rigorous studio practices, resulting in plans, sections, elevations and digital models. This course will introduce students to various digital diagramming, drawing, and modeling software, while challenging students to question the theoretical and practical implications of these interdisciplinary media processes. This course will combine lectures, reading, discussion, and extensive studio design.
Requisite: ARHA 111. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 10 students. Spring semester. Five College Professor Long.2023-24: Not offered
An introduction to black-and-white still photography. The basic elements of photographic technique will be taught as a means to explore both general pictorial structure and photography’s own unique visual language. Emphasis will be centered less on technical concerns and more on investigating how images can become vessels for both ideas and deeply human emotions. Weekly assignments, weekly critiques, readings, and slide lectures about the work of artist-photographers, one short paper, and a final portfolio involving an independent project of choice. Two three-hour meetings per week.
Limited to 12 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Kimball.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, January 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
A course appropriate for students with prior experience in basic principles of visual organization, who wish to investigate further aspects of pictorial construction using the figure as a primary measure for class work. The course will specifically involve an anatomical approach to the drawing of the human figure, involving slides, some reading, and out-of-class drawing assignments. Two two-hour meetings per week.
Requisite: ARHA 102 or 111, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Sweeney.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
Image, Movement, Sound
(Offered as ARHA 225 and FAMS 225.) This course is a hands-on, in-depth exploration of the formal elements of moving images and sound. We will begin with a study of the camera, and, through in-class projects and individual assignments, we will explore framing and composition; light, color and texture; camera movement and rhythm; editing and relationships between image and sound. We will approach set-up and documentary situations from a variety of formal and conceptual perspectives. We will consider all equipment not simply as technology, but as creative tools to be explored and manipulated. Our goal is to make the camera an extension of our eyes and minds, to learn to see and think about the world around us through moving images and sound. An individual final video project will give students the opportunity to bring the concepts explored throughout the term into a work with an expressive, cohesive cinematic language. In Scenario du Film Passion, Jean-Luc Godard expresses his desire to turn a camera movement into a prayer. It is this profound engagement with the world and intense, thoughtful consideration of the medium that we seek to achieve.
Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2013-14.
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012
The Film Portrait
This introductory production workshop focuses on the history and practice of film and video portraiture. The class will begin by considering the portrait’s origins in figurative art and still photography before identifying the ways in which the film portrait uses strategies unique to the moving image to convey character and meaning. We will then trace the development of the genre while also considering its intersections with narrative, documentary and experimental film.
The aim of the course is both analytic and creative. We will be looking at a variety of approaches and issues related to portraiture in an attempt to develop both common and contested definitions that can be applied to our own filmmaking practice. Each student will complete in-class exercises and individual video projects that seek to reveal the nature of people, places and objects through sound and image. The class will also cover the fundamentals of cinematography, lighting, audio recording and editing and discuss how these technological considerations influence the portrayal of a subject.
Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Levine.2023-24: Not offered
Sculpture from the Human Figure: Subject, Symbol, Object, Presence
The human image was at the core of what are understood as the first steps into modern sculpture. We will look at the beginnings of the modernist approaches to the human image in sculpture and continue through its use by a wide variety of contemporary artists. Students will build sculptures based on the head and the figure, working from life, as well as from memory and imagination. From initial studies in clay from observation, students will move on to a variety of self-directed projects using the human image as central subject matter. Casting techniques, a range of materials, and a multiplicity of approaches to both analyzing and building form will be covered in the course. Two three-hour class meetings per week.
Requisite: At least one of the following--ARHA 111, ARHA 102, or ARHA 214. Limited to 10 students. Fall semester. Professor Keller.Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016
Lost and Found: Appropriated, Recycled and Reclaimed Images
(Offered as ARHA 231 and FAMS 343) From the found-footage experiments of the avant-garde to the digital remixes of the networked age, artists have used pre-existing material to question the ideologies of dominant media, explore technological possibilities or play situationist pranks. With the advent of file-sharing platforms, streaming video and cheap DVDs, we live in an era dominated by what Hito Steyerl calls “the poor image” – low resolution, second- or third-generation images whose quality has been sacrificed for accessibility. The availability of this material has allowed artists to work with economy, speed and to borrow the aesthetics of cinema and television for their own purposes, but it also foregrounds many problematic questions of authorship and ownership.
This course is a hands-on investigation into the practice of recycling, recontextualizing and remixing moving images. We will screen found-footage work, collage films, and remakes in addition to discussing readings by filmmakers, artists, and theorists that will provide ideas and models for our own production. The class will also review the fundamentals of editing and cinematography as we re-edit found images and combine them with our own footage.
Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Levine.2023-24: Not offered
The Monastic Challenge
(Offered as ARHA 250 and EUST 250.) This course aims to be a visually and spatially attentive search for the "art" of the monastic and cathedral masterpieces of medieval France. First, by learning how to recognize, define, and respond to the artistic values embodied in several “romanesque” and “gothic” monuments including the Abbeys of Fontenay, Vézelay and Mont St. Michel and the Cathedrals of Laôn, Paris, Chartres, Amiens and Reims, we will try to engage directly (e.g., architecturally and spatially) the human aspiration these structures embody. Secondly, with the help of two literary masterpieces from the period, The Song of Roland and Tristan and Isolde, we will discover that the heart of the “monastic” challenge to our own era is not the common opposition of the medieval and modern worlds, but rather the recognition of the potential diminishment of "art" by an exclusively ratiocinated view of all reality. The tragic love affair of Eloise and Peter Abelard will dramatize a vital existential dilemma too easily forgotten that always (but especially in our time) threatens "art," human compassion and spirituality. Our goal is to reclaim the poetic potential of the word “cathedral.” Two class meetings per week.
Requisite: One course in Art and the History of Art or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Upton.2023-24: Not offered
Dutch and Flemish Painting (The Art of Beholding)
(Offered as ARHA 253 and EUST 253). This course means to ask the question: What would it be like to engage with the paintings of Jan van Eyck, Roger van der Weyden, Hieronymous Bosch, Pieter Bruegel, Jan Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn as a consciously embodied person and to reclaim in such a direct encounter the rejuvenating powers of erôs, insight and wisdom residing within ourselves and in the art of works of art with which we would behold. In addition to reaffirming the practice of artistic contemplation for its own sake, “Dutch and Flemish Painting” will offer explicit guidance in both the means and the attitude of being that underlie and enable such beholding. In learning how to 'behold', our goal will be to allow a series of exemplary masterpieces including Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Double Portrait and the Ghent Alterpiece, Roger’s Portrait of a Lady, the Prado Deposition, and the Beaune Last Judgment; Bosch’s Death of a Miser; Brueghal's Seasons; Vermeer’s Artist in his Studio and Portrait of a Girl with a Pearl Earring; Rembrandt’s Nightwatch and several intimate Self Portraits to open outward and implicate us in their human aspiration to wholeness. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Upton.2023-24: Not offered
Sixteenth-and-Seventeenth Century Northern European Painting
The course will begin with a brief introduction to important themes in Northern Renaissance art that have direct bearing on later 16th- and 17th-century developments. Relevant historical issues for the entire course will include the effects of the Reformation and Counter Reformation; changing attitudes toward sexuality, and toward the lower classes or peasants; social and economic movements in the Dutch Republic; and the open market for art and the consequent development of artistic specialties--landscape, portrait and still-life. Studying the works of Pieter Bruegel, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, Pieter Saenredam, Frans Hals, Jacob van Ruisdael, Jan Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn, students will examine the attractions and pitfalls of the contextual analysis of works of art. The course will also address the role of present day viewers’ subjective responses when evaluating historical evidence and whether unexamined objectivity is possible or even desirable. We will also consider whether there is continued value in the notion of a period style or of an artist’s single-minded or consistent stylistic development. Specialized readings will shed light on all of these topics. Looking closely at original works of art from this period will be a crucial component of the course with special emphasis on refining our visual acuity. Two class meetings per week.
One previous course in art history or in European history strongly recommend. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2013-14.2023-24: Not offered
Buddhist Art of Asia
(Offered as ARHA 261 and as ASLC 260.) Visual imagery plays a central role in the Buddhist faith. As the religion developed and spread throughout Asia it took many forms. This class will first examine the appearance of the earliest aniconic traditions in ancient India, the development of the Buddha image, and early monastic centers. It will then trace the dissemination and transformation of Buddhist art as the religion reached South-East Asia, Central Asia, and eventually East Asia. In each region indigenous cultural practices and artistic traditions influenced Buddhist art. Among the topics the class will address are the nature of the Buddha image, the political uses of Buddhist art, the development of illustrated hagiographies, and the importance of pilgrimage, both in the past and the present.
Omitted 2012-13. Professor Morse.2023-24: Not offered
From Edo to Tokyo: Japanese Art from 1600 to the Present
(Offered as ARHA 262 and ASLC 238 [J].) In 1590 the Tokugawa family founded its provincial headquarters in eastern Japan. By the eighteenth century, this castle town, named Edo (now known as Tokyo), had become the world’s largest city. This class will focus on the appearance of artistic traditions in the new urban center and compare them with concurrent developments in the old capital of Kyoto. Topics of discussion will include the revival of classical imagery during the seventeenth century, the rise of an urban bourgeois culture during the eighteenth century, the conflicts brought on by the opening of Japan to the West in the nineteenth century, the reconstruction of Tokyo and its artistic practices after the Second World War, and impact of Japanese architecture, design and popular culture over the past twenty years.
Spring semester. Professor Morse.2023-24: Not offered
Sacred Images and Sacred Space: The Visual Culture of Religion in Japan
(Offered as ARHA 266 and ASLC 261.) An interdisciplinary study of the visual culture of the Buddhist and Shinto religious traditions in Japan. The class will examine in depth a number of Japan's most important sacred places, including Ise Shrine, Tôdaiji, Daitokuji and Mount Fuji, and will also look at the way contemporary architects such as Andô Tadao and Takamatsu Shin have attempted to create new sacred places in Japan today. Particular emphasis will be placed on the ways by which the Japanese have given distinctive form to their religious beliefs through architecture, painting and sculpture, and the ways these objects have been used in religious ritual.
Omitted 2013-14. Professor Morse.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Fall 2023
The Arts of the Book in Iran and Islamic South Asia, 1250-1650
(Offered as ARHA 267 and ASLC 267.) This course considers the arts of the book at the royal courts of Greater Iran (including Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia) and Islamic South Asia from the thirteenth through seventeenth centuries. It will focus in particular on illustrated histories and poetic works in Persian, including Abu'l Qasim Firdausi's Shahnama (Book of Kings), Nizami Ganjavi's Khamsa (Quintet), and Abu'l Fazl's Akbarnama (Book of Akbar), among others. All aspects of manuscript production will be considered, from the arts of “miniature painting,” calligraphy, and illumination, to the preparation of paper, brushes, inks, and pigments. The class will explore in depth the nature of the royal manuscript workshop, the formation of visual idioms, the roles of originality and imitation in artistic practice, the aesthetics of the illustrated page, and the theorization of painting and calligraphy in technical treatises, poetry, and other primary texts. Emphasis will be placed on the great movement of artists, materials, and ideas across the Islamic world, all of which contributed to the rise of an elite, cosmopolitan culture of manuscript connoisseurs. Examination of objects in the Mead Art Museum and other local collections will supplement classroom discussion and assigned readings. No previous knowledge of the topic is presumed, and all reading will be available in English.
Requisite: One course in Art History or Studio Art. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2013-14. Five College Fellow Rice.
2023-24: Not offered
Image of Empire: Art and Architecture of Mughal India, 1526-1858
Founded in 1526 by a Muslim prince from Central Asia, the Mughal dynasty dominated the political landscape of South Asia (including present-day India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh) until the middle of the nineteenth century. The influence of the Mughal Empire also extended well beyond South Asia, making it one of the most important states in the premodern global arena. This course will examine the great range of art and architecture produced for the Mughal emperors and members of their court, placing special emphasis on how these materials (and their makers) helped create a powerful, multifaceted image of empire. We will explore lavishly illustrated manuscripts and monumental architecture, including the justly famous Taj Mahal, but also expand our purview to consider less studied objects such as carved jade vessels, inscribed gems, inlaid metalwork, and textiles. We will pay particular attention to Mughal encounters with the arts of India's Hindu kings, the Safavid Empire, the Jesuit missionaries, the royal courts of Europe, and the British East India Company. Films and field-trips to local museum collections will supplement assigned readings and lectures. Participation in class discussion, a significant component of the course, is expected. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Prof. Rice.2023-24: Not offered
African Art and the Diaspora
(Offered as ARHA 270 and BLST 293 [D].) The course of study will examine those African cultures and their arts that have survived and shaped the aesthetic, philosophic and religious patterns of African descendants in Brazil, Cuba, Haiti and urban centers in North America. We shall explore the modes of transmission of African artistry to the West and examine the significance of the preservation and transformation of artistic forms from the period of slavery to our own day. Through the use of films, slides and objects, we shall explore the depth and diversity of this vital artistic heritage of Afro-Americans.
Omitted 2013-14. Professor Abiodun.2023-24: Not offered
Modern Architecture, Design, and the Built Environment
(Offered as ARHA 271, ARCH 271 and EUST 271.) This course considers architecture and design of the 19th and 20th centuries in light of contemporary disciplinary themes like space, globalization, and sustainability. In doing so, it strives to highlight the social, political, intellectual, and technological forces that have influenced (and continue to motivate) modern design. Key figures to be addressed include: Gottfried Semper, William Morris, Peter Behrens, Adolf Loos, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Daniel Libeskind, Herzog and de Meuron, and Zaha Hadid. Two class meetings per week.
Requisite: EUST 216, EUST 364, a course in art history, studio art, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2013-14.2023-24: Not offered
Foundations and Integrations: Film and Media Studies
(Offered as ENGL 281, FAMS 220, and ARHA 272.) “Foundations and Integrations” will be an annual team-taught course between a Critical Studies scholar and moving-image artist. A requirement of the Film and Media Studies major, it will build on critical analysis of moving images and introductory production work to develop an integrated critical and creative practice. Focused in particular around themes and concepts, students will develop ideas in both written and visual form. The theme for spring 2013 will be “Film and Inner Life.”
Requisites: A foundations course in Critical Studies of Film and Media (such as “Coming to Terms: Cinema”) and an introductory film/video production workshop. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Hastie and Visiting Lecturer Johnson.2023-24: Not offered
Women and Art in Early Modern Europe
(Offered as ARHA 284, EUST 284, and WAGS 206.) This course will examine the ways in which prevailing ideas about women and gender-shaped visual imagery, and how these images influenced ideas concerning women from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. It will adopt a comparative perspective, both by identifying regional differences among European nations and tracing changes over time. In addition to considering patronage of art by women and works by women artists, we will look at the depiction of women heroes such as Judith; the portrayal of women rulers, including Elizabeth I and Marie de' Medici; and the imagery of rape. Topics emerging from these categories of art include biological theories about women; humanist defenses of women; the relationship between the exercise of political power and sexuality; differing attitudes toward women in Catholic and Protestant art; and feminine ideals of beauty.
Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Courtright.2023-24: Not offered
The Art of Beholding
What would it be like to “behold”? Without diminishing the value of objective observation, analysis, cultural and historical positioning of works of art, this seminar will offer a working hypothesis concerning the act of “beholding” as a deliberate and disciplined means of entering into the thrall of the art of individual works of art. Learning to behold by beholding: Each member of the seminar will have the opportunity to experience and assess the power of “beholding” by way of a semester-long encounter with one painting of their choosing, including time spent with this painting in situ. We will follow the progress of each encounter in conversation and presentation during our class meetings through a series of particular focused steps leading to the direct experience of “beholding,” both individually and as a group. Our goal will be to re-imagine the possibility that artistic contemplation realized in multiple forms (not only pictorial, architectural and sculptural, but social, political, economic, religious and spiritual) is the highest aspiration of our human being in which love will have become the animating source of compassionate action. One class meeting per week.
Limited to 10 students. Fall semester. Professor Upton.Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2022
Experimental Garage Science: The Art of Ubiquitous Material
In this course, students will employ a range of techniques and experimental practices to create work from ubiquitous materials. Ubiquitous materials include the byproducts of science and engineering, craft and industry; commercial items found at hardware, pet, grocery, household, and building materials suppliers; and natural elements such as water, light, air, and sand. Using the studio as laboratory, students will determine conditions that catalyze the physical transformation of everyday material into works of art. Students will assume the attitude of a pseudoscientist, defining the parameters for experimentation but not overly influencing the outcome. An essential component of the artistic work will be the enabling of material change and transformation. In addition to studio practice, research, discussion, and film screenings will be integral to the course.
Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Visiting Artist-in Residence Wirthmann.2023-24: Not offered
Collaborative Art: Practice and Theory of Working with a Community
This course will examine the approaches of various contemporary artists to creating collaborative work. Over the last two decades a growing number of artists have adopted a mode of working that is radically different from the usual modernist model. These artists are working as collaborators with people or groups outside the world of art--with children, senior citizens, sanitation workers, or residents of a particular neighborhood. The artists often create work with, not for a community, and share decision making with people not ordinarily given a place in the world of museums or other art world sites. The results are artworks that express a variety of social and aesthetic positions. In general, the work is intertwined with progressive educational philosophies and radical democratic theory.
Some of the issues examined will be: What is the special attraction for artists of working collaboratively? What are the roles of the artist, community, and audience? How does one attribute quality or success to collaborative projects? What is the relationship between process and product? This course will examine the work of artists working in various media, including Ewald’s methods for working with children in photography and with communities. Human rights photographer Fazal Sheikh will be in residence and working on a project in the Pioneer Valley for periods of time during the semester. Students will work with Fazal as well as completing companion projects with communities in the Amherst area. Weekly class discussions will provide students the opportunity to reflect upon their own experiences and observations as artists. They will also read about and discuss collaboration, social issues as it relates to the people they will be working with.
Requisite: One course in the practice of art. Limited to 10 students. Omitted 2013-14. Visiting Artist Ewald.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as ARHA 314 and FAMS 442.) How can cinema become a tool for reflection and inquiry? How do we express thought in cinema?
For filmmaker Dziga Vertov, the camera is a “Cine-Eye,” capturing, deciphering and reflecting on found reality to create its own cine-truths, apart from preceding art forms and beyond the stale conventions of traditional narrative and socially constructed realism. In his 1948 article “The birth of a new avant-garde: La caméra-stylo,” Alexandre Astruc envisions the camera as a pen to express abstract thought. Quite recently, in Terrence Malick’s fictionalized, autobiographical film, The Tree of Life, a brother’s death triggers a series of questions about the human condition that form the core of a wide-ranging, expansive film-poem with a narrative structure akin to a philosophical essay.
This advanced production seminar proposes a cinema of thought and investigation in which each filmmaker will engage the world with a reflexive eye. We will look closely at a group of films from genres that foreground inquiry and experimentation: the film essay, the political film, the diary, the notebook, the travelogue, the memoir and other hybrid forms. We will consider content, formal structure (mise-en scene, decoupage) and the content embedded within form, to understand how these films generate a cohesive cinematic/philosophical statement. Readings by filmmakers, theorists and critics will serve as a springboard and counterpoint for our own film projects.
In addition to short group and individual projects, each student will conceptualize, develop and produce a non-fiction film during the semester. Each week, students will present their work-in-progress for class and individual discussion and critique. Prior film production experience is required.
Recommended requisite: ARHA 102 or 111. Limited to 8 students. Omitted 2013-14.2023-24: Not offered
Experiments in Narrative
(Offered as ARHA 315 and FAMS 443.) What constitutes cinematic narrative, distinct from other forms of storytelling? How do we engage film form to tell a story? Can the camera be a narrator? How can we alter a traditional narrative structure, and, what are the implications of these transformations? How can we use color to construct the subjective space of a character, or use sound to manipulate the temporal order of the story, creating flashbacks, ellipses or flash-forwards?
In this advanced production workshop we will explore cinematic narrative first by closely studying how a group of classical, experimental, and contemporary filmmakers have engaged narrative through filmic form. We will then formulate our own new cinematic narratives. Cinema is no longer restricted to the theater or the gallery. Moving images surround us--online, on our phones and screens, in the streets, and in stores, taxis, and train stations. We will consider the formal parameters of these new cinematic spaces and their possibilities. Coursework consists of film viewing, analysis and discussion, and the production of several short narrative films.
Requisite: Prior film production experience; recommended requisite: ARHA 102 or 111. Limited to 8 students. Omitted 2013-14.
2023-24: Not offered
Advanced Studio Seminar
A studio course that will emphasize compositional development by working from memory, imagination, other works of art and life. The use of a wide variety of media will be encouraged including, but not limited to, drawing, painting, printmaking and collage. Students will be required to create an independent body of work that explores an individual direction in pictorial construction. In addition to this independent project, course work will consist of slide lectures, individual and group critiques, in-class studio experiments and field trips.
Requisite: ARHA 222, 326 or 327. Limited to 8 students. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Sweeney.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
A studio course that investigates more advanced techniques and concepts in sculpture leading to individual exploration and development. Projects cover figurative and abstract problems based on both traditional themes and contemporary developments in sculpture, including: clay modeling, carving, wood and steel fabrication, casting, and mixed-media construction. Weekly in-class discussion and critiques will be held. Two two-hour class meetings per week.
Requisite: ARHA 214 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Keller.Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2022, Spring 2023
This advanced course offers the opportunity for each student to design and work on an individual project for an extended period of time. The emphasis is placed on the student's ability to express themselves clearly with the medium as it relates to their own personal vision. It is designed for those who already possess a strong conceptual and technical foundation in photography. Concepts and theories are read, discussed, demonstrated and applied through a series of visual problems, and complemented by presentations of contemporary and historical photography. Student work will be discussed and evaluated in group and individual critiques. Students may work in analog or digital photography.
Requisite: ARHA 102 or 111 and ARHA 328 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Fall semester. Professor Kimball.2023-24: Not offered
This course offers students knowledgeable in the basic principles and skills of painting and drawing an opportunity to investigate personal directions in painting. Assignments will be collectively as well as individually directed. Discussions of the course work will assume the form of group as well as individual critiques. Two three-hour class meetings per week.
Requisite: ARHA 215 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Resident Artist Gloman.2023-24: Not offered
This course is an extension of intaglio and relief processes introduced in ARHA 213 with an introduction to lithography. Techniques involved will be drypoint, etching, engraving, aquatint, monoprints, monotypes, woodcut, linocut and stone lithography. Printmaking processes will include color printing, combining printmaking techniques and editioning. Combining concept with technique will be an integral element to the development of imagery. A final project of portfolio-making and a portfolio exchange of prints will be required. Individualized areas of investigation are encouraged and expected. In-class work will involve demonstration, discussion and critique.
Requisite: ARHA 213 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Resident Artist Garand.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2023
This course is a continuing investigation of the skills and questions introduced in ARHA 218. It will include an introduction to varied camera and film formats and both analog and digital photography methods. An emphasis will be placed on defining, locating and pursuing independent work; this will be accomplished through a series of weekly demonstrations, assignments and a final independent project. Student work will be discussed and evaluated in group and individual critiques. This is complemented by slide presentations and topical readings of contemporary and historical photography.
Requisite: ARHA 218 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Kimball.Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2022
Ideas, Influences and Vision: Building a Body of Work
An advanced level interdisciplinary studio course focused on the development of a personal and independent body of work, and the technical and conceptual problems associated with such a project. Students concentrating in any visual medium or across mediums are welcome and encouraged to enroll. Each student, in consultation with the professors, will design a semester-long project. This project will result in a final body of work or series that reflects the student’s ideas, influences and personal vision. In addition to production of this extended independent project, course work will consist of weekly group critiques, historical and topical readings, discussions, field trips and in-class studio experiments. This course is highly recommended for any ARHA major considering a senior honors project with a concentration in studio; however, it is open to any student having the necessary prerequisites.
Requisite: Two introductory level studio courses and one intermediate level studio course. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 10 students. Omitted 2013-14. Resident Artist Gloman and Professor Kimball.2023-24: Not offered
Renaissance Art in Italy
(Offered as ARHA 351 and EUST 351.) This course treats painting, sculpture, and architecture of the art historical periods known as the Early and High Renaissance, Mannerism, and the Counter Reformation. It will dwell upon works by artists such as Giotto, Donatello, Botticelli, Leonardo, Raphael, Bramante, Michelangelo, and Titian in the urban centers of Florence, Rome, and Venice, art produced for patrons ranging from Florentine merchants and monks to Roman princes and pontiffs. The art itself--portraits, tombs, altarpieces, cycles of imagined scenes from history, palaces, churches, civic monuments--ranges from gravely restrained and intentionally simple to monumental, fantastically complex or blindingly splendid, and the artists themselves range from skilled artisans to ever more sought-after geniuses. Emphasis will be upon the way the form and content of each type of art conveyed ideas concerning creativity, originality, and individuality, but also expressed ideals of devotion and civic virtue; how artists dealt with the revived legacy of antiquity to develop an original visual language; how art imparted the values of its patrons and society, but also sometimes conflicted with them; and how art and attitudes towards it changed over time. Rather than taking the form of a survey, this course, based on lectures but regularly incorporating discussion, will examine in depth selected works and will analyze contemporary attitudes toward art of this period through study of the art and the primary sources concerning it. Upper level.
Requisite: One other art history course or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Courtright.2023-24: Not offered
Proseminar: Images of Sickness and Healing
(Offered as ARHA 352, EUST 352 and WAGS 352.) In this research seminar, we will explore how sickness and healing were understood, taking examples over centuries. We will analyze attitudes toward bodies, sexuality, and deviance--toward physical and spiritual suffering--as we analyze dreams of cures and transcendence. We will interrogate works by artists such as Grünewald, Goya, Géricault, Munch, Ensor, Van Gogh, Schiele, Cornell and Picasso, as well as images by artists in our own time: Kiki Smith, the AIDS quilt, Nicolas Nixon, Hannah Wilke, and others. Texts by Edgar Allen Poe, Sander Gilman, Roy Porter, Susan Sontag, Thomas Laquer and Caroline Walker Bynum will inspire us as well. Significant research projects with presentations in class. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Staller.2023-24: Not offered
Myth, Ritual and Iconography in West Africa
(Offered as BLST 315 [A] and ARHA 353.) Through a contrastive analysis of the religious and artistic modes of expression in three West African societies--the Asanti of the Guinea Coast, and the Yoruba and Igbo peoples of Nigeria--the course will explore the nature and logic of symbols in an African cultural context. We shall address the problem of cultural symbols in terms of African conceptions of performance and the creative play of the imagination in ritual acts, masked festivals, music, dance, oral histories, and the visual arts as they provide the means through which cultural heritage and identity are transmitted and preserved, while, at the same time, being the means for innovative responses to changing social circumstances.
Spring semester. Professor Abiodun.
2023-24: Not offered
The (Black) Artist as Historian
(Offered as BLST 333 [US], ARHA 355 and THDA 333.) Beginning with theorists Mark Godfrey and Hal Foster, this course will investigate what has been called a historical or archival turn in contemporary art production. Through the lens of black visual art, we will explore the varied ways that black artists have probed the meaning and production of history throughout the twentieth century, but also how these explorations have changed over time and in relationship to particular subject material (e.g., the history of slavery or more local and personal history). We will challenge the periodization that labels the "artist as historian" a recent phenomenon, but we will also pay close attention to experiences voiced by black Americans, whether artists or scholars, that contextualize their concerns with history, the archive, and the politics of representation more generally. We will investigate cultural production from the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights, and Black Power Movements, the era of "identity politics," as well as contemporary art in dialogue with digital media and the internet.
Fall semester. Visiting Professor Knight.Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Spring 2023
Baroque Art in Italy, France, Spain, and the Spanish Netherlands
(Offered as ARHA 356 and EUST 356.) After the canonization of the notion of artistic genius in the Italian Renaissance and the subsequent imaginative license of artists known as Mannerists, phenomena sponsored throughout Europe by the largesse of merchants, courtiers, aristocrats, princes, and Churchmen alike, a crisis occurred in European society--and art--in the second half of the sixteenth century. Overturned dogmas of faith, accompanied by scientific discoveries and brutal political changes, brought about the reconsideration of fundamental values that had undergirded many facets of life and society in Europe at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the starting point of this course. Unexpectedly, these upheavals led to a renewed proliferation of innovative art. In this century of remarkably varied artistic production, paradoxes abounded. Some artists sought the illusion of reality by imitating unimproved, even base nature through close observation of the human body, of landscape, and of ordinary, humble objects of daily use, as others continued to quest for perfection in a return to the lofty principles implicit in ancient artistic canons of ideality. More than ever before, artists explored the expression of passion through dramatic narratives and sharply revealing portraiture, but, famously, artists also imbued art meant to inspire religious devotion with unbounded eroticism or with the gory details of painful suffering and hideous death. They depicted dominating political leaders as flawed mortals--even satirized them through the new art of caricature--at the same time that they developed a potent and persuasive vocabulary for the expression of the rulers’ absolutist political power. This class, based on lectures but regularly incorporating discussion, will examine in depth selected works of painting, sculpture, and architecture produced by artists in the countries which remained Catholic after the religious discords of this period-e.g., Caravaggio, Bernini, Poussin, Velázquez, and Rubens in Italy, France, Spain, and the Spanish Netherlands--as well as engaging the cultural, social, and intellectual framework for their accomplishments. Upper level.
Requisite: One other course in art history or consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Courtright.2023-24: Not offered
The John Cage Nexus: Music, Image, Text
(Offered as ARHA 372 and MUSI 304) This seminar explores the practice and influence of John Cage. Although primarily regarded as a composer of music, Cage was also a writer, publishing essays and poetry, and a printmaker of both etchings and monotypes. He moved among creative media, yet understanding Cage’s practice in this regard has been a difficult—even an anxious—endeavor. Published debates on hearing, reading, and seeing that fuel this media anxiety will underscore discussions throughout the semester as we consider Cage alongside creative influences such as Erik Satie, Marcel Duchamp, and James Joyce, and collaborators such as Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, and David Tudor. Furthermore, we will delve into the practice of contemporary artists whose work exhibits an indebtedness to Cage. This course may include a field trip to The John Cage Trust at Bard College. One class meeting per week. (NB: this course may be counted towards the music major, but it does not fulfill the seminar requirement for the major.)
Requisite: one course in art history, studio art, creative writing, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2013-14.2023-24: Not offered
Museums and Society
This course considers how art museums reveal the social and cultural ideologies of those who build, pay for, work in, and visit them. We will study the ways in which art history is (and has been) constructed by museum acquisitions, exhibitions, and installation and the ways in which museums are constructed by art history by looking at the world-wide boom in museum architecture, and by examining curatorial practice and exhibition strategies as they affect American and Asian art. We will analyze the relationship between the cultural contexts of viewer and object, the nature of the translation of languages or aesthetic discourse, and the diverse ways in which art is understood as the materialization of modes of experience and communication. The seminar will incorporate visits to art museums and opportunities for independent research. Two meetings per week.
Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professors Clark and Morse.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2023
The Tea Ceremony and Japanese Culture
(Offered as ARHA 383 and ASLC 319.) An examination of the history of chanoyu, the tea ceremony, from its origins in the fifteenth century to the practice of tea today. The class will explore the various elements that comprise the tea environment-the garden setting, the architecture of the tea room, the forms of tea utensils, and the elements of the kaiseki meal. Through a study of the careers of influential tea masters and texts that examine the historical, religious, and cultural background to tea culture, the class will also trace how the tea ceremony has become a metaphor for Japanese culture and Japanese aesthetics both in Japan and in the West. There will be field trips to visit tea ware collections, potters and tea masters. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Morse.2023-24: Not offered
Witches, Vampires and Other Monsters
(Offered as ARHA 385, EUST 385, and WAGS 310.) This course will explore the construction of the monstrous, over cultures, centuries and disciplines. With the greatest possible historical and cultural specificity, we will investigate the varied forms of monstrous creatures, their putative powers, and the explanations given for their existence-as we attempt to articulate the kindred qualities they share. Among the artists to be considered are Valdés Leal, Velázquez, Goya, Munch, Ensor, Redon, Nolde, Picasso, Dalí, Kiki Smith, and Cindy Sherman. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Staller.Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
Films That Try: Essay Film Production
(Offered as ARHA 401 and FAMS 444) Essay filmmaking is a dynamic form with many commonly cited attributes—the presence of an authorial voice, an emphasis on broad, open-ended themes, an eclectic approach to genre, and the tendency to ruminate, digress or draw unexpected connections. Yet, true to its nature, the precise definition of the essay film is in constant flux. It can be both personal and political, individual and collective, noble and mischievous, the favored methodology of established film auteurs, Third Cinema activists, and contemporary vidartists.
If we entertain the notion that the processes of cinema closely resemble the mechanics of human thought, then the essay film may be the medium’s purest expression. To watch or make such a film, we must give ourselves over to a compulsive, restless energy that delights in chasing a subject down any number of rabbit holes and blind alleys, often stopping to admire the scenery on the way. As with thought, there is no end product, no clear boundaries, no goal but the activity itself.
The term "essay" finds its origins in the French "essayer," meaning “to attempt” or "to try.” In this advanced production workshop, we will read, screen and discuss examples of the essayistic mode in literature and cinema while making several such attempts of our own. Students will each complete a series of writing assignments and two video projects informed by class materials and group discussion.
Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Levine.
2023-24: Not offered
This advanced production course explores the outer limits of cinematic form and expression. We will consider the material possibilities and limitations of both digital and analog imagery, shooting on High Definition video, Super 8, and making cameraless films by scratching, painting and drawing directly onto celluloid. In addition, we will discuss other non-narrative strategies including radical structures, text/image combinations, performance, and experiments with sound, music or silence. While remaining aware of camera and editing choices, we will invite chance into our process and risk failure, as every experiment inevitably must.
Through group shoots, screenings and assigned readings, we will explore the work of artist-filmmakers and conclude with a discussion of exhibition and distribution strategies for artists’ film and video. Students will each complete two individual projects (one midterm and one final) that they will present and discuss in class.
Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Levine.2023-24: Not offered
We will investigate a series of historical events (such as the Vietnam War, the Cuban missile crisis, Stonewall, the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King) as well as the Civil Rights Movement, the rise of identity politics (Feminism, Black Power, the Brown Berets) and the counterculture. We will study the myriad art forms and their attendant ideologies invented during the decade (such as Pop, Op, Color Field, Minimalism, Land Art, Conceptual Art, Performance Art, Fluxus), as well as some crucial critics, dealers and art journals, in an effort to understand the ways in which artists rejected or appropriated, then transformed, certain themes and conceptual models of their time.
Requisite: One course in modern art or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Staller.2023-24: Not offered
Matisse and Picasso
We will study two of the greatest artists of all time--their complex relationships to their current worlds, toward traditions and each other. We will interrogate their attitudes toward nature, the sacred, history and gender, as well as the ways in which they recast myths, fears and dreams from the countries and regions of their birth and later experience. We will analyze the ways in which they responded to particular geographies and qualities of light, as we interrogate ways in which their works addressed–-and sometimes aggressively did not address-–cataclysmic events in the social sphere: anarchist insurrections, the Guerra Civil, two world wars. We will consider their drawings, paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, and writing, from the entire trajectory of their careers, reveling in original objects whenever possible. In addition to weekly reading assignments, there will be one substantial research paper, based at least in part on primary sources, and an oral presentation. There will be at least one required field trip, on a Friday.
Requisite: One course in modern art or permission of the instructor. While not required, reading knowledge of French and/or Spanish would be helpful. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Staller.
2023-24: Not offered
Fall and spring semesters. The Department.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
Senior Departmental Honors
Preparation of a thesis or completion of a studio project which may be submitted to the Department for consideration for Honors. The student shall with the consent of the Department elect to carry one semester of the conference course as a double course weighted in accordance with the demands of his or her particular project.
Open to seniors with consent of the Department. Spring semester. The Department.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023
The Social Life of the Japanese Print
Japanese woodblock prints, or ukiyo-e (‘pictures of the floating world’), are perhaps the best known form of Japanese art. From the late seventeenth century until the present day, ukiyo-e have played greatly varied and significant roles in Japanese society, including illustrations for folktales, portraits of famed courtesans and kabuki actors, souvenirs of historical sites, explicit erotica, secret calendars, board games and fan designs, reportage of contemporary events, and even as precious art objects to be collected and cherished. This course will examine the medium of the Japanese woodblock print both as a representation of a flourishing urban society and also as the means by which that flourishing was made possible; the prolific artists, publishers, carvers, colorists, government censors, and the citizenry of the capital all contributed to a massive and thriving industry and trade in ukiyo-e. It will conclude with an examination of the influence of ukiyo-e on European and American artists. In addition, the course will focus on firsthand examination of the objects themselves, drawing from the Mead’s collection of over 4,000 Japanese prints, allowing students to develop skills of connoisseurship and a deep understanding of the technological evolution of print-making over the course of nearly four hundred years. In addition to more traditional assignments, students will learn to craft practical texts germane to working in a museum, including condition reports, accession proposals, label texts, and catalogue entries.
Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Post-doctoral Fellow Bailey.2023-24: Not offered
Public Art and Collective Memory in the United States
(Offered as AMST 360 and ARHA 360.) What is public art and what role does it play in public life and collective memory in the United States? In this course we will study art that is commissioned, paid for, and owned by the state as well as private works scaled to public encounter. A focus of our study will be the evolution of public art in Washington, D.C. (19th-21st centuries), but we will range from New York harbor to the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Great Salt Lake, and we will discuss the fate of works that, like Richard Serra's Tilted Arc, exist today only in photographic record and documented debate. Asking whether and how public art mediates between private and public life will guide us to consider when and how it defines national or local values and why so many public art projects have aroused controversy. The course is organized around class discussion and student presentations, and it includes short papers and a paper/presentation of an independent research project. Two meetings per week.
Requisite: One course in American Studies, History, or the History of Art. Limited to 20 students. Permission required for first-year students. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Clark.2023-24: Not offered