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Fall 2012



ART H 602                                     Research Methods of Art History

Prof. Agee (section 002)            Jackson Pollock: his art, his sources, his legacy, his friends.

 The seminar will survey the methods and history of art historical research and writing and apply these techniques to the study of Modern Art in America.  Students will be required to focus on a specific work for intense study and research over the entire semester, concluding with the preparation of a thesis paper and short lecture to be presented to the class.  Weekly class discussions will be based on the examination of various research techniques and the evaluation of resources in connection with each student’s specific topic.

 This term we will focus on Jackson Pollock (1912- 1956) since this is his centennial. He was one of the most important artists of the 20th century and his legacy is still with us. There are only a few Pollocks on view so those who can't focus on a single Pollock, will choose a painting by either Lee Krasner or others in Pollock's circle. We study that work in depth, then place it in the context of his/her entire career, and its relation to Pollock, then to the context of the times, the history of modern art and Pollock's legacy. We will visit museums and take at least one trip to the Pollock-Krasner House in Spring NY, as part of the methodology of research.


ART H 602                                     Research Methods of Art History

Prof. de Beaumont:(sect. 03):            Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)

As the Rembrandt Research Project (RRP) that preoccupied eminent specialists for decades draws to a somewhat inconclusive close, and a new Rembrandt database is being launched jointly by the Mauritshuis and the Netherlands Institute for Art History (Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, or RKD), with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the time seems particularly ripe to pause and consider the critical fortunes and connoisseurship issues surrounding Rembrandt canvases hanging in New York public collections.  The celebrated Polish Rider at The Frick Collection is a key example of a once venerated masterwork for a time reassigned to the hand of a lesser known pupil or follower, but more recently restored to a firmer—if not quite impregnable—standing within the corpus of accepted paintings.

The course will proceed from a detailed historical analysis of the RRP, including extensive assigned readings from its principal contributors and the monumental (albeit incomplete) five-volume corpus that they produced before announcing the discontinuation of their work, to a case-by-case examination of the multiple tools and methodologies required in effective Rembrandt scholarship.  By extension, the course will touch upon core research challenges confronting all art historians, as well as the role of less tangible but no less important elements of authentication such as intuitive assessments rooted in seasoned familiarity with the work of one inimitable hand. 

As a term project intended to be ongoing throughout most of the semester, each student will be assigned a particular picture at The Frick Collection or the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with the goal of producing a research paper and corresponding catalogue entry, as well as an oral image presentation to the class.  Students will be encouraged, wherever possible, to consider Rembrandt’s achievements as a draftsmen and etcher.  It is hoped that at least one class museum visit (ideally in consultation with one or more curators) may be scheduled outside of our usual class hours.

ART H 619                                     Greek Art & Architecture  

Prof. Dey

The history of western art begins with the Greeks. The intellectual, creative and artistic flowering that peaked among the Greek city-states of the fifth and fourth centuries BC underpins a cultural legacy that continues, via ancient Rome and the Renaissance, to this day. Greek notions of beauty, proportion, harmony and indeed ‘art’ in general lie at the root of modern discourse about the same subjects. The architectural, sculptural and representational conventions developed in ancient Greece continue to pervade the daily experience of modern Americans, from the Statue of Liberty to the NY Stock Exchange. We will focus on the art and material culture of the Greek-speaking Mediterranean world from ca. 1000 BC until the Roman conquest of Greece in the second century BC. Subjects to be covered include architecture and the development of the classical orders; sculpture; vase and panel-painting; jewelry and metal-work; as well as broader topics such as the evolution of the Greek polis and urbanism, the development of the naturalistic canon, and the political and social contexts in which the objects of our study were produced.


ART H 622                                    Modern Art II

Prof. Weintraub:

This course examines the forces that shaped Western visual culture from 1900 to mid-century.  We will be focusing on the major art movements of the period with the goal of examining the formulation of key aesthetic strategies, situating them within contemporaneous philosophical and theoretical developments, and considering their art historical and theoretical precedents and legacies.  Course readings will emphasize primary texts, but will also include a selection of secondary sources that have shaped our critical understanding of the period in question.


ART H 631                                    The Architectural Avant-Garde, Divergent Modernisms, 1910’s-1940’s           

Prof. Jozefacka:

The course surveys twentieth century architectural avant-garde practices, from their emergence in Western and Central Europe in the 1910s, to their subsequent dissemination across Europe and beyond. Taking a global approach, the course places emphasis on regional, national and international idioms of the Modern Movement. Focusing primarily on architecture, but including other related disciplines such as urban design, this class introduces the main theories, design tendencies, and construction methods pursued by architects who embraced an anti-historicist stance and participated in the modernization of architectural practice.  By examining both well-documented and lesser-known movements, institutions, and organizations, as well as events and publications associated with this broad yet closely-knit international network of practitioners, the class addresses the permutations of the architectural avant-garde as shaped by both regional competition from local historicist movements and internal disputes within the movement.

The class is structured around lectures. Students will be responsible for reading and writing assignments based on primary and secondary literature.  There will be a midterm and final exam.  


ART H 633                         Getting their Due:  Women Artists from the Renaissance and Baroque Age


The origins of art history’s focus on the personalities and work of exceptional individuals can be traced back to the publication of Vasari Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects (1st edition, 1550, expanded 1568).  The second edition devoted only one chapter to a woman artist (the Bolognese sculptor Properzia de’ Rossi, c. 1490-1530).  Today the discourse has expanded to recognize the multiple contributions of female artists to the history of Early Modern Europe.  These women overcame prejudice, superstition and antiquated religious and societal beliefs forcing them to adhere to traditional stereotypes.  Praised in antiquity by such authorities as Pliny (Natural History), the patriarchal society of the Early Christian era forced women out of their workshops.  Medieval artists turned to Church, either by choice or by force, to seek an education and practical training in the conventual’s scriptoria.  Their efforts often remained unappreciated as women formed the core of anonymous bands of tapestry and needle-workers whose efforts could be seen in the most public and palatial places. Beginning with the Renaissance, however, their situation improved as a number of enlightened fathers served as instructors for their very capable daughters.  Women were no longer restricted to painting still lives and miniatures and turned instead to the creation of large-scale history, religious and mythological paintings.  The Enlightenment saw Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807) and Mary Moser become founding members of the British Royal Academy and across the Channel women were admitted in increasing numbers to its sister institution in Paris.  Today there is a museum devoted to women artists in Washington DC located in a former Masonic Temple that had ironically excluded female membership. 

This course will include, but is not restricted to, Sofonisba Anguissola, Luisa Roldan, Elisabetta Sirani, Lavinia Fontana, Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Leyster, Katherine van Heemskerk, Anne Vallayer Coster, Vigée-Lebrun, Adelaide and Adélaide Labille-Guiard. We will also discuss contemporary writings about women as well as their patrons.


Requirements:  Short final exam and research paper


ART H 734                             Theory and Criticism

Prof. Jaudon  (section 01):            Mapping Discourses: Theories of Abstraction

This seminar concentrates on the historical development of contemporary theoretical issues in art, with particular attention to the role and context of 20th century abstraction. The course will be structured as a series of roundtable discussions that aim to focus on a wide-ranging selection of seminal texts across disciplines ranging from modernism/postmodernism, structuralism/post-structuralism, aesthetics, philosophy, phenomenology, feminism, psychoanalysis, semiotics, cultural studies, among others along with a variety of critical methodologies.

The goal of the class is to provide students with an introduction to the primary theoretical texts and critical approaches to art that have played a significant role in forming both the art and the criticism of today. Students will choose topics and readings relating to the disciplines outlined above. They will present brief papers and lead seminar discussions on their topics of choice. A final paper (minimum10 pages) allows for detailed examinations of critical concerns with a focus on abstraction. All readings will be available on E-Reserve from the Hunter Library.


ART H 734                             Theory and Criticism

Prof Weintraub (section 02):   Originality, Repetition & the Avant-Garde

This course considers what is at stake in the terms and rhetoric of ‘originality’ and ‘repetition’ in art.  We will situate these terms in an art historical, cultural and theoretical context, and examine their significance as determining concepts in the themes and goals of modernism and postmodernism. In so doing, we consider the links between creativity and originality as they come to define the avant-garde, and explore the shifting stances toward repetition in art and theory of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.


Prof. Gaines (section 03)          Theory and Criticism

Theory and Criticism will focus on a range of important works of criticism, critical theory and political philosophy that frame and contextualize ideas of modernity, representation, the subject, the object, and identification, along with other concerns. 


Prof. Pissarro (section 04)              The History of Aesthetics and Art Theory from Romanticism to Contemporary Art

“First of all you must cut off your tongue because this decision will take away from you the right to express yourself with anything other than your brush.” This was 73-year old Matisse’s advice to young artists .  Yet, Matisse himself was one of the foremost theoreticians of early modernism: he used his tongue (or his pen ) as much as his brush in order to express himself.  This seminar will examine the sources of this paradox by examining the uses (and abuses) of theory from Romanticism down to contemporary art.

For the last 200 years art has become more than  a formal aesthetic exercise: it has become a language expressing a new kind of truth.  What are the foundation and the history of modern art’s formidable (and outrageous) claim?  From the Schlegel brothers to Baudelaire, and from Nietzsche to Baudrillard, this class will examine the main texts that embody this unprecedented claim.  In parallel, the impact of this speculative theory on Modern Art will be a center of focus : from Friedrich and Delacroix to Gauguin, and from Matisse, Malevich, and Mondrian to Newman and Judd, this class will end with a study of legacy of this 200-year old tradition of a speculative theory on contemporary art.

ART H 750.00                                    Photography in the 20th Century

Professor Pelizzari

One of the most contested issues in twentieth-century photography revolves around its claim as art. The course explores how major photographers, curators, and critics have worked towards this definition, investigating photography as an experimental form that has merged with avant-garde movements and artistic trends. In contrast, photography has also been discussed as a visual language in flux, depending on the context of its reception in magazines, commercial advertisements, exhibitions, and the most recent impact of web-based communication. Each lecture focuses on the aesthetic strategies and critical debates around major photographers and their agencies, reading a wide range of texts and interrogating what kind of visual language is photography. The scope of the course is to become literate about the most important authors of 20th-century photography; to develop a knowledge of the major holdings of photographs in NYC; and to think critically about the shifting values of these works throughout this century, as photographs became vehicle of artistic discourse as well as of documentary chronicle, ideology, and commercial exchange. 

Requirements: mid-term paper and final written paper (15 pp. long, with abstract and bibliography) focusing on an original object in a collection in NYC.


Print Matters: Photography in Magazines, 1880s-1950s 

(Graduate Center, Thursdays: 4:15-6:15)

Recent scholarship in photography has focused on the context of magazine publications, investigating the works of individual photographers in relationship to a complex web of editorial strategies dealing with politics, glamour, and commerce. Introduced in newspapers and illustrated weeklies in the 1880s, photography became a potent vehicle for communication in the 1920s, with the technical improvements of photogravure and rotogravure and the creation of spectacular layouts of images and text. These photographs contributed to a media craze that responded to the tempo of modern life and that fostered transnational histories across Germany, Russia, France, Italy, Spain, and the United States. The course explores how photographers negotiated with editors and media tycoons who directed the destiny of production and reception of their images on a global scale.

Requirements: A research project that includes an abstract, a bibliography, and a final paper discussing a picture-essay or a particular theme from an original magazine cover found in New York City libraries [a list of collections will be distributed in class]. 


ART H 780.02                                    Special Topics Seminar in Modern Art  

Prof.  Montgomery :                        Information Art circa 1970

Systems, arte de los medios, information art, conceptualism, and dematerialization were all terms used around 1970 to describe art that, rather than presenting representations, generated ideas. Many working in these modes sought to understand our bodies’ relationships to the new media and technologies that were transforming daily life by paradoxically making it feel at once more specific and more global. Considering conceptualism as a means to negotiate the bodily, this course will focus on a group of artists working between New York, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro during the late 1960s and early 70s. Readings will include recent scholarship on affect and conceptualism, and globalism and conceptualism, primary texts on media theory by Marshall McLuhan, Oscar Masotta, and others, and artists’ writings. The class will result in an exhibition opening spring 2013. Seminar participants are required to generate research on objects in the show, write wall texts, and produce publications and programming. No auditors permitted.


ART H 780.08                                    The Artist's Institute: Haim Steinbach

Prof.  Huberman:

The Artist's Institute is a research institute and a curatorial platform for contemporary art (see Each semester, the Institute uses a single artist as its point of departure and examines the broader field of contemporary art and ideas through the lens of that artist's work. Stepping outside the academic context and sharing its research with the general public, the Institute maintains a storefront space on the Lower East Side and hosts exhibitions and events. As "research fellows," students explore the themes and ideas through ongoing readings, discussions, visiting artists, and through active involvement in the Institute's public programming. For the Fall 2012 season, The Artist's Institute will be dedicated to the NY-based artist Haim Steinbach. (Professor permission required for registration).

Haim Steinbach has been an influential practitioner of art that incorporates everyday objects. His precise selection and presentation of a range of materials from ordinary experience enhances their interplay and resonance and calls forth a renewed consideration of the object in contemporary life. Among the questions the artist raises: What is the relationship between objects and subjects? What role do time, memory, and loss play in our experience of cultural artifacts? What is the potential of contingency and chance for producing new associations between things? How do objects produce desire? What can art bring to bear on the mass proliferation of objects in media culture? The seminar will take up these questions and others as we think alongside Steinbach over the course of the semester.  The Institute will juxtapose the artist’s objects with a rotating series of loosely associated events by other relevant artists, writers, performers, filmmakers, or thinkers from all over the world.


ART H 780.14                                    Curatorial Methods

Prof.  Huberman:

This seminar proposes an in-depth examination of the curatorial process and introduces contemporary perspectives and approaches to exhibition-making, with a focus on epistemology and the nature of “knowledge” in art. The class is supported by historical references to landmark exhibitions, visits to museum and gallery exhibitions, and presentations by visiting curators and artists. Students consider to what extent an exhibition---with its themes, politics, juxtapositions, experiments, and pedagogies---can be a site for knowledge production, and the nature of the exhibition experience. A special focus for the Fall 2012 semester will be artist-curated exhibitions.


ARTH 780.34                        Special Topics in Modern Art :

Prof. Braun                            Art and Culture of Postwar Europe 1945- 1968 

This seminar will investigate European art in the aftermath of WWII and will focus on issues of historical memory, reconstruction, Cold War politics, late-modern commodity capitalism, and the so-called “end of painting.” In traditional narratives of late modernism, American Abstract Expressionism and, subsequently, American neo-Dada, have been posited as the engines of innovation and institutional critique. Rather than view postwar-European art as a mere mirror of American developments or as an expression of American Cold War dominance, we will complicate the critical discourse of both then and now.  Developments in European art, including Informel, Art Brut, Fronte Nuovo delle arti; Spatialism, Arte Nucleare, Cobra, Neo-realism (in film, painting and object making), the Situationists, Capitalist realism, Arte Povera, and the School of London, will be situated in a precise historical framework, challenging the traditional view of complete historical rupture from the pre-war period. Specific themes of European concern will be explored -- including postwar identities of the “defeated” and the “victorious,” cultural amnesia, economic recovery (including the art market) and the conscious repositioning of avant-gardism. A reading-intensive course, it will ask students to define and explore postwar crises of aesthetics, including the interrogation of “humanism;” the malaise, rather than the death, of painting; and the perceived limitations of representing war and genocide. Students are encouraged to look at painting in the context of postwar photography and film as well.  Grades will be based on weekly reports on the readings and a research paper.


Art H 7801G                         Special Topics Seminar in Asian Art

Prof.   Luczanits            Exhibiting Tibetan Art

This course will take place at the Rubin Museum of Art, where students will participate in two of the museum’s exhibition projects with a special focus on strategies of display and communication. “Masterworks— Jewels of the Collection” is a semi-permanent installation that showcases the breadth and cultural and historical interrelations of Tibetan art through the museum’s collection and the discussion of style. We will review its implementation critically and use its third rotation to study practical issues of exhibition making, from the selection of the objects to displaying them in the gallery. This rotation opens at the end of the course. Complementing this project, a second exhibition with the working title “Two Sides of Tibetan Art” explores the role of art in a pre-modern society, its function and usage in a religious context and the importance of a more comprehensive approach to the study of an art object. The resulting exhibition will open in March 2013.


Art H 7801H                                     Special Topics in Islamic Art :

Prof. Avcioglu            Artistic interactions between the Ottoman Empire and Its Neighbors 

The course is designed to explore the transformation of Ottoman art and architecture from the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 to the establishment of the Turkish republic in 1923, by focusing on the dialogical artistic interactions between the Ottomans and the other cultures surrounding them both in the East and West. The seminars will introduce students to a select group of works of art and architecture elucidating the pivotal transitional moments in Ottoman culture. The time-span covered is deliberately extensive in order to show that the characteristics of cross-cultural interactions are more visible across a long period. The course will also address concepts by which cross-cultural works of art and architecture can be analyzed and understood. Examples of art and architecture will be studied in their historical contexts, with special attention paid to changing ideas about the 'self' and the 'other' and how these changes emphasis different aspects of interaction between cultures and how they reflect artistic conventions. The course will involve examining and discussing original works of art from the New York Museum collections.


Art H 7801I                                     Special Topics in Modern Art :  Bathtime: The Bather in 19Century Painting and Sculpture

Prof. Dorsch       

This course will examine the history of the bather, a sub-genre of that most “natural” of subjects, the nude, throughout the history of European art.  It will begin with a glimpse at a few of the myriad of rosy-fleshed Susannahs and scantily-clad Dianas who, from the Renaissance on, cloaked their nudity in legitimizing veils of biblical history or mythology.  For the duration of the semester, the course will focus on the discourse concerning the pool, bathers, and the act of bathing that developed in France and surrounding countries in the nineteenth- and early-twentieth centuries.  During this time, the image of the bather served as the medium through which artists explored a wealth of societal preoccupations and anxieties – issues concerning gender, class, urbanism, and modernity, among others.  From the Realistic nudes of Courbet, Manet, and Daumier, to the sun-dappled naiads of the Impressionists, to Cézanne’s and Seurat’s modern-day bathers pieced together from a flurry of brushstrokes – the image of the bather will serve over the course of the semester as a springboard from which to launch a discussion of modernism in the making.

Emphasis will be placed on the firsthand study of art depicting bathers in local collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Print Study Room at the New York Public Library.