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Spring 2011 Art History Courses


Stapleford: ARTH 111           
Introduction to the History of Art

The evolution of art as seen in changing forms and subjects in several periods of Western civilization, including ancient Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages in Western Europe, Renaissance, Baroque, Modern, and American.  Two hour lecture followed by one-hour recitation class on another day.  Two short papers, two tests and a final exam.

Bates and Staff: ARTH 111           
Introduction to the History of Art

Changing forms and subjects of art in several periods of Western Civilization, including ancient Greece and Rome, Middle Ages in Western Europe, Renaissance, baroque, modern, American, also Islamic and African art.

Dey: ARTH 216           
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The Great Pyramid of Giza; the Hanging Gardens of Babylon; the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus; Pheidias’ gigantic statue of Zeus at Olympia; the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos; the Lighthouse at Alexandria; the Colossus of Rhodes. For a 60-year period in the third century BCE, all seven of these stunning monuments coexisted, so impressing the Greeks who controlled the territories where they were located that they came to be listed together as the ‘Seven Wonders of the World.’ Still today, when most of them are lost, they stand among the greatest monuments of classical civilization. Our study of these seven marvels will open up a window onto the technical and cultural achievements of several of the most influential civilizations of the ancient Mediterranean world: the Egyptians; the Babylonians; and the Greeks themselves. We will ask not only how these extraordinary works of art and architecture were created, but also, perhaps more importantly, why. In addition, we will use each monument as a point of departure to explore the broader social and artistic horizons of the cultures that produced them.

Hahn: ARTH 221           
Later Medieval Art

This course will cover themes in Gothic art. Included will be the birth of the Gothic, court art, devotional art, Gothic architecture as structure, stained glass, secular art, the city and the castle, and many others. Material from England, France, Germany and Italy will be covered.

Richter: ARTH 230              
High Renaissance and Later 16th century art

The focus will continue on the arts of Central Italy, particularly Florence and Rome, but the emergence of Venice as an international art’s center now becomes increasingly important. Emphasis will be placed on such artists as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo and Titian. 

Zanardi: ARTH 244
Neoclassicism & Romanticism

This course will focus on two important and simultaneous artistic movements from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Neoclassicism and Romanticism. We shall evaluate specific examples from painting, sculpture, architecture, printmaking, and decorative arts from a variety of countries. We will examine the works of numerous artists, including Jacques-Louis David, Antonio Canova, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Francisco de Goya, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Caspar David Friedrich, Eugène Delacroix, among many others, and consider them in their political, social, economic, spiritual, and aesthetic contexts.

Avery: ARTH 246
American Painting, 1760-1900

Major masters and movements from the Colonial period through the end of the nineteenth century are illuminated, including John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, and Mary Cassatt.

Vancik: ARTH 249           
Twentieth Century Art I

Part of a cycle of in-depth surveys on the history of modern art, this lecture course examines the development of avant-garde movements in Europe during the first half of the twentieth century. It covers the major protagonists and aims of Fauvism, German Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Metaphysical Art, Dada, Surrealism, the Bauhaus, and Classicism between the World Wars. Special attention is given to understanding the styles and iconographies of modernism, as well as to the languages of representation and their ideological content. The development of art history is set against the backdrop of modern European politics and society.

Sadow: ARTH 250               
20th Century Art II

This course will examine the history of American and European art from 1940 to about 1975, with an emphasis on the art in America.  Through the study of such popular movements as Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Earth Art and Minimalism, structured around a selected group of core artists, recurring themes and topics will be examined in conjunction with current issues and events.  By examining the work itself, reviews by noted historians and critics and the writings of the artists themselves, a chronological and sequential history of the art of this period will be constructed and analyzed.

Staff: ARTH 251
Contemporary Art in NYC

Jozefacka: ARTH 255
Modern Architecture

This course surveys 20th century developments in the field of architecture.  Focusing primarily on architecture, but including other related disciplines such as urban planning and fine and applied arts and design, this class will introduce the main theories, design tendencies, and construction methods pursued during this period.  We will discuss architecture’s relationship to nature and technology and consider it as a catalyst for social change. Buildings will be situated in their cultural, political, economic, and historical contexts, bringing to the fore the intentions of designers and patrons as well as reception of buildings and ideas amongst diverse audiences and circumstances. The primary geographical focus of this class is Europe and North America.  Architectural production in other regions, Asia and South America, will also be discussed, but to a lesser extent.   The class is structured around lectures, class discussion, museum and site visits, as well as reading and writing assignments.

Abbaspour: ARTH 260
Islamic Art

A survey course that covers the development of Islamic art from 650 through 1800, from Spain to India. The emphasis will be on the unity and variety of artistic expressions in visual culture of Muslim peoples. We shall consider the major architectural achievements, and to a lesser degree, paintingand objects produced in various media in their historical and cultural contexts. The requirements for the course include mid- term and final examinations and a Research paper (5-7 pages).

ARTH 263           
Chinese/Japanese art

Klich: ARTH 285           
Art and Architecture in Colonial Latin America

This course focuses on art and architecture created in Latin America from the sixteenth century to the early nineteenth century. The conquest of the Americas by Spain and Portugal initiated a vibrant era of cultural convergence between indigenous peoples and their conquerors. Colonialism in this period created the region’s rich social fabric and introduced issues of hybrid identity and dependency that remain pertinent today. We will explore the ways that native cultural traditions merged with new practices imported from Europe, Asia, and the Islamic world to transform the visual culture of the region. Along with close examination of artistic production such as painting for religious buildings, sculptural decoration, and portraiture, we will read contemporary accounts, recent studies, and theoretical texts to explore alternative models for the study of the period. 

Pelizzari: ARTH 368           
Research Methods:
Social-Documentary American Photography in the Thirties
The course is focused on the history of social documentary American photography in the Thirties and on its role in supporting Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ plan. Between 1935 and 1943, many photographers received commissions from the Farm Security Administration (FSA), a government driven organization that aimed to show the dire conditions of poverty, migration, racism, and despair in which this country lived. Among these photographers were Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Arthur Rothstein, Gordon Parks – all significant authors in the history of American photography, each of them bringing a distinct sensibility and empathy towards the dispossessed and the discarded. American photography in the Thirties is the main topic for this course that aims to teach students how to write a research paper – how to conduct research, working with archival and bibliographic materials, primary and secondary sources, and digital resources. Strategies for writing - the organization of information, the clear articulation of ideas, logical structure of argument, and developing an authoritative voice - will be stressed. At the beginning of the semester, each student will select a photograph from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, and this object will provide the basis for art historical analysis. We will learn how to gather historical information, develop formal analysis, and shape a theoretical discussion. Each week we will have discussions on the reading assignments and each student will also give a formal presentation on their research topic in order to share their work in progress with the class. The assignments of this course consist in the lively class participation in weekly readings; preparation of bibliographical sources and abstract for the object of your research paper; presentation in class and final paper. There will also be a take-home exam with questions related to the reading materials and important theories on photography as art and/or ideology.

Zanardi: ARTH 368           
Research Methods:
Rococo Splendor in the Court of Louis XV
This seminar examines Rococo art and architecture in eighteenth-century France during the lavish age of Louis XV (1715–74), a period in which luxury, philosophical enquiry, and a greater sense of secular freedom were championed. We shall address significant topics in direct relation to the different theoretical models and methodologies of art history. However, because this class will be conducted as a series of workshops, besides reading and discussions of different aspects of the rococo, we shall also focus much of the class on important topics to the discipline, such as how to analyze scholarly reading and how to write about objects.

Students will be expected to complete all reading assignments prior to class so that seminar sessions will include fruitful discussions. The readings and weekly discussions are also the basis for the exam. At the beginning of the semester students will choose an eighteenth-century work of art from one of the museum collections in New York or the surrounding area. This work shall provide the foundation for the student’s research paper developed over the course of the semester. Each student will also give a formal presentation to share their research with the class.

De Beaumont: ARTH 399.30                       

This seminar will focus on the loosely cohesive group of avant-garde artists (including Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro, Sisley, and Caillebotte) who exhibited their work at the eight Impressionist exhibitions held in Paris between 1874 and 1886.  Through an intensive examination of primary sources—as well as evolving critical thought about Impressionism and its individual players—students will be encouraged to reassess this exceptionally complex and pivotal moment in the history of art.
The principal requirement for the course is an oral seminar report (with images) on a topic to be suggested by the instructor, and to be developed into a term paper submitted in lieu of a final exam.  Other requirements include assigned readings and active participation in class discussions. Some reading knowledge of French would be an asset.

Jozefacka: ARTH 399.23 
Special Topics: Architecture in NYC
: New York City Modern Architecture in Urban Context
Between the early 19th and late 20th centuries New York City evolved into the quintessential modern metropolis with a diverse and dense architectural landscape. This seminar explores roughly two hundred years of the city’s architectural history through reading of seminal texts on the topic of its urban development and by examining its public, religious, domestic, commercial and industrial architectural structures.  New York’s buildings, engineering structures (bridges and tunnels), and public spaces (parks and streets) will be discussed in the context of social and political history as well as general architectural theory and practice.  Students participating in the class will develop skills to analyze and research architectural structures and their place within an urban fabric. This class is organized around on-site visits, in-class lectures, reading discussions, and students’ presentations.

Avery: ARTH 399.65           
The Hudson River School & the Culture of Landscape

The course will examine both new and longstanding issues of mid-nineteenth century American landscape painting and its Anglo- American context with reference to local collections including those of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New- York Historical Society. Students will present oral and written presentations on topics suggested by the instructor.



Richter: ARTH 602           
Research Methods: Raphael

Weintraub: ARTH 622
Modern Art II

This course focuses on art from 1900-1945 and considers the major artists and art movements of this period, situating them within their cultural, sociopolitical, and theoretical contexts, as well as their contemporaneous critical reception and interpretation.  Moving chronologically through first half of the century, this course traces the emergence and development of certain artistic strategies in art that will eventually come to both define and challenge the terms and aims of high modernist art and theory at mid century. 

Dey: ARTH 602           
Research Methods Art and Agency: Anthropological, Archaeological and Art-Historical Perspectives

In recent decades, social anthropologists and post-processual archaeologists have suggested that material culture does as much to shape and channel human interactions and cultural processes as it does to 'signify' or passively 'reflect' them. But while it may seem relatively unproblematic to say that e.g. infrastructure can radically affect the contours of everyday life, the cultural agency of 'art' per se presents a diverse and challenging range of methodological questions: does sculpture or architectural decoration (for example) change the lives of those who encounter it in the same way that roads, walls, domestic architecture or cooking utensils do? Gell's landmark attempt to confront the issue from an anthropological perspective has at last prompted historians of art and architecture to address the post-processual agenda in a systematic manner, the results of which we will explore in this seminar.

Dey: ARTH 620           
Roman Art

In this course we will explore the material culture of Roman civilization, from the beginnings of Rome in the eighth century BCE through the reign of Constantine (306-337 CE). Material remains provide a crucial and often highly evocative window onto the spectacular rise and subsequent evolution of the Roman Empire and its constituent cultures. Hence, we will seek to place the objects of our study into their wider historical context, and to consider the evolution of Roman architecture and art (chiefly sculpture, mosaics, and painting, as well as ‘minor arts’ such as jewelry, household items and coins/medallions) not only for their aesthetic and stylistic qualities, but also as reflections of broader and more systemic changes in Roman society over the long term. The issues which our study of Roman art and architecture will allow us to confront include: state-formation and empire building; ‘Romanization’; ethnicity and identity in a multicultural empire; and the role of religion (including the rise of Christianity) in Roman society.

Siegel: ARTH 626           
Modern Art IV: Art Since 1945

ARTH 636           
Chinese and Japanese Art

Bishop: ARTH 734            
Theory and Criticism

The subtitle of this course has at least two possible meanings. One is that we will read critical writings, or what has been known fashionably for the last ten years as "theory."  Often, but not always, these readings directly address artistic practices or specific art objects. The other possible meaning of "the artist in theory" is that the artist is a figment of our cultural imagination__ an idea that we have made up.  Who is an artist? What is an artist?  What does an artist do, what does he or she  think about?  And what purpose does the figure of the artist serve in culture and society? Artists will be encouraged to feel comfortable with theoretical writings, and to make decisions about what they might take away for their own art.  Art historians will learn to make connections between intellectual concepts and modes of artistic production, and hopefully form a relationship to the art of their own time. For each meeting there will be several reading assignments on reserve, ranging in length and number, revolving around a single term common to both art and theory (such as "originality").  Everyone in the class will be responsible for leading class discussions on one class meeting, as well as providing a set of images for that class. There will be several short writing assignments, as well as a longer paper due at the end of the semester.

Weintraub: ARTH 734           
Theory and Criticism
Originality and Repetition
This course considers the significance and relevance of ideas of originality and repetition in art and art theory in the 20th and 21st centuries.  As such, this course explores what is at stake in the terms and rhetoric of originality and repetition in art, situates them in an art historical, cultural and theoretical context, and examines the centrality of these terms to the concepts and goals of modernism and postmodernism. In so doing, we consider the conceptual links between creativity and originality, and the changing views toward repetition in art through the work of Wassily Kandinsky, Marcel Duchamp, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Agnes Martin, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons and Daniel Buren, among others.

Huberman: ARTH 780.02           
Artist’s Institute Seminar

De Beaumont: ARTH 780.03                       
Eighteenth-Century French Architecture

This course will focus on the evolution of public and private spaces in eighteenth-century French architecture, with particular emphasis on developments in Paris.  The hôtels particuliers of the Régence period, the Place Louis XV and other great civic projects initiated around mid-century, and the visionary, largely unrealized schemes of Boullée and Ledoux are among the special topics that will be considered both stylistically and in relation to their complex political, social, and ideological implications.  Innovations in architectural education will be examined.  Interrelationships with the decorative arts, book illustration, fête décors and garden design will be explored.  Intensive study of primary sources, including major theoretical texts, will be involved, and some reading knowledge of French will be a definite asset.

Course requirements will include a mid-term and a final examination, as well as an oral presentation/term paper on a subject to be chosen by the student in consultation with the professor.

Weintraub: ARTH 780.05           
Special Topics in Modern Art

Huberman: ARTH 780.14           
Curatorial Methods

Bates: ARTH 780.16                       
Graduate Seminar in Islamic: Art and Architecture in Constantinople/Istanbul, 1450-1600

Learning Objectives: The subtitle of this seminar might read, “The formation of an imperial art.” The focus will be on the transformation of the Ottoman sultanate into an empire following the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 and the creation of art and architectural forms that defined its enhanced status. The artistic traditions from which the Ottoman Empire derived its inspiration were from the East as well as West: pre-Islamic and Islamic Turkic, Greco-Roman, Islamic/Asian, Byzantine/Christian, and contemporary European. The amalgamation of such diverse sources took place during the period approximately between 1450 and 1600. We shall consider mainly architecture but will refer to Ottoman historical paintings, textiles, and objects that were used in court ceremonies, parades and military campaigns.

Course Requirements: Readings listed on the syllabus; each week one or two students will be responsible to verbally present a review of the readings and hand in a written copy that summarize strong and weak points in the published material, originality, or lack of it, organization, whether or not it leads to further exploration of the discussed subject matter, and so on. The reading material provides you with the basic bibliography related to the topic of the seminar, and writing a review means to think critically about the reading.

Term Paper: A short essay (9-15 pages) based on research and critical thinking in a subject of special interest to you in the context of this seminar. A list of suggested topics for the seminar paper will be handed in. Each student will make a 30 minute presentation of her/his paper, followed by a ten minute discussion. Papers will be due on the last meeting of the term.

Pelizzari: ARTH 780.95           
Special Topics in Photography: Italian Photography (1970-Present): Inhabiting the Periphery

The theme of Periphery is at the core of a future exhibition of contemporary Italian photography that will be showcased in the Hunter galleries in 2012. The goal of this seminar is to delve into the critical issues involved with this project, exploring the aesthetic concerns of contemporary Italian photographers who focused on a non-monumental Italy, and intertwining their works with other expressions from Italy’s visual culture in film, architecture, installation art, and literature.

In 1979, historians Carlo Ginzburg and Enrico Castelnuovo published an essay titled “Center and Periphery” in which they posited on a new paradigm for Italian art, which dealt with a polycentric history of local and partly marginal contexts. Similarly, photographers started during these years to focus on the vernacular and the discarded, opposing their alternative and fragmentary geographies to more traditional views of Italy’s historic monuments. These aesthetics informed also the cinematography of Pasolini and Antonioni, the literature of Italo Calvino, the architectural projects of Aldo Rossi, and Conceptual Art movements like Arte Povera. Given these considerations and broader context, how did photography contribute to this important debate?

As one of the most important photographers of this group, Luigi Ghirri, explained in 1984, “the ultimate image that people retain of Italy is that of Capri, but in order to arrive there one has to drive along the highway for miles and miles, and that route presents a different kind of landscape. This “minor” Italy is in fact the “major” part of the country…” Following such a perception, Ghirri influenced a whole generation of photographers who focused on trajectories and non-descript zones such as gas stations and local train stations, industrial sites and parking lots. Selecting traces of this landscape, they were able to inhabit a new country. The course unravels precisely this paradox in Italian culture: that the peripheral and the discarded can be inhabited through fragmentary photographic frames, and that these perceptions can present a more authentic image of the country - a marginal and yet central Italian landscape.

Stapelford: ART H 780.64            
Seminar: Botticelli

The paintings of Sandro Botticelli span the last third of the fifteenth century in Florence. Politically and socially this period is both a "Golden Age" and a disaster during which Florentines lived through the constant threat of invasion and economic collapse. Botticelli's style of painting, alone among his peers, was remarkably changeable, shifting from pure naturalism to an almost abstract linearism. Little is known of the man himself, but his paintings reveal him to be a man deeply committed to political causes, an idealist, a humanist, and a lover of literature. After his death, his reputation declined until he became little more than a footnote to the legends of the heroic age of Italian Renaissance painting. The Christian romantics of the nineteenth century revived interest in him and he has gradually become one of the most written-about of Florentine painters.

The course will examine the various threads which make up the fabric of Botticelli's art and reputation: the effects of social conditions on his art, politics and political allegory, the relationship of style and content, and the interaction of painting and literary iconography. It will also consider the nature of art historical knowledge, how we know what we know. Since an overview of the larger canvas of Florentine painting in the later Quattrocento is necessary, itis recommended that the relevant sections of Frederick Hartt's Italian Renaissance Art be read before the course begins. Students will be required to write a term paper and present short oral critiques of significant literature, works, paintings, pictorial.

Klich: ARTH 780.73                        
Special Topics in Latin American Art

Bleiberg: ARTH 780.88           
Topics in Ancient Egyptian Art and Architecture
This graduate course explores problems in understanding ancient Egyptian art and architecture from pre-history through the end of Egypt’s classical civilization. The course proceeds chronologically beginning approximately 3500 B.C.E. with questions about the origins of Egyptian art. The problems addressed in class concern typical art historical issues such as royal versus middle class patronage, the nature of Egyptian style, and the emergence of Egyptian iconography in various periods. The course concludes with discussions of the current antiquities market, Egyptian collections in museums, and current issues of cultural patrimony. Students will prepare an oral presentation for the class and a research paper choosing from a list of approved topics.