Fall 2008 Graduate Courses
(AHI G4072) Contemporary African Art: Alternative Africas
This survey examines art being made today by African artists working in Europe, America and in Africa, and surveys the origins of African modernity in the 20th century. Theoretical and critical approaches and even basic definitions in this new field are still being challenged, and the course will consider these and the many Africas evoked by artists and critics.
(AHIS G4126) Rock-Cut Architecture of India
For a period of over a thousand years, a favored mode of architecture across India was to create monuments by excavating into the rock of the mountainside. This course examines the rock-cut mode of architecture, adopted by Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains, that remained popular right up to the tenth century when it yielded precedence to structures built by piling stone upon stone.
(AHIS W4155) Mesopotamian Art & Architecture
Introduction to the art and architecture of Mesopotamia beginning with the establishment of the first cities in the fourth millennium B.C.E. through the fall of Babylon to Alexander of Macedon in the fourth century B.C.E. Focus on the distinctive concepts and uses of art in the Assyro-Babylonian tradition.
(AHIS G4425) Italian Renaissance Sculpture
This is a course whose primary pedagogical goal is to improve the students' ability to see and understand works of Italian sculpture from the 15th to the 17th centuries with what one might call "curatorial eyes." That is to say, the emphasis will be on long, careful, and discriminating visual examination and analysis of works of art themselves. Accompanying this primary training will be extensive exposure to sculptural materials and techniques of manufacture; and students will also visit conservation laboratories where sculptures are undergoing treatment. Because so many class meetings will be off-campus, the course will meet only once a week.
(AHIS G4569) Eighteenth Century French Architecture
V. Di Palma
This course examines developments and controversies in 18th-century European architecture, urbanism, and landscape design. Topics to be investigated include: the Grand Tour and the vogue for ruins; the development of institutions like prisons, hospitals, and academies; concepts of nature and sensibility; the search for origins; the development of the domestic realm; popular spectacles, urban fetes, and the rise of the public sphere.
(AHIS G6117) Early Chinese Calligraphy
The history of calligraphy from earliest times through the Song dynasty, with special emphasis on the interaction of the state and the innovations of individual calligraphers.
(AHIS G6135) Japanese Narrative Handscrolls
This course explores the narrative handscroll (emaki), a major form of Japanese pictorial art, from its origins in the eighth century through the sixteenth century. Through an investigation of such masterworks as the "Illustrated Scrolls of the Tale of Genji," "Illustrated Legends of Mount Shigi," and "Life of Saint Ippen" (Ippen hijiri-e), the course will address questions of text-image relationships, patronage, and viewing practices in visual depictions of classical literature, hagiographic narratives, and popular tales. Although emphasis will be given to works for which texts and scholarly studies are available in English, reading ability in Japanese is recommended.
(AHIS G6274) Roman Art IV
N. Kampen & H. Klein
This lecture course is intended to confront art and architecture from the third through the sixth century among the peoples of the Roman Empire in its eastern and western forms. The two faculty, one specializing in secular and Jewish art, the other in Christian, provide a conversation about how traditional Roman art forms and ideas interact with new ones to create a distinct art versus one that is merely transitional or decadent. The lectures will be combined with talks from visitors and museum trips in order to keep the actual objects under scrutiny.
(AHIS G6644) Modernism, Post-Modernism & Structuralism
The discourse on Modernism in the visual arts examined in relation to the theoretical positions of structuralism and post-structuralism, specifically the work of Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida.
Seminars and Colloquia
(AHIS G8015) Dada and the Media
Dada is often credited with the valorous but failed attempt to reintegrate art into the praxis of life. Increasingly, scholars have recognized that technological media regulate the exchange between objects, images, and life inmodernity; and that Dada not only challanged but also incorporated a range of media practices and channels into their art, writing and events. This seminar will examine the Dada movement in relation to emergent media, with particular focus on recent art in historical scholarship, media theory, and historical sources.
(AHIS G8061) Masquerade: Rhetoric/Theory/Practice
This seminar will explore masquerade, one of the oldest of the world's visual arts, drawing on critical works in art history, literary criticism, philosophy, theatre, and anthropology. We will study how Western theories about "the mask" have shaped the literature on African masquerading but our ultimate goal is to open up new questions about African practice inspired by arguments on cross-dressing, minstrelsy, the "uncanny," and the "carnivalesque."
(AHIS G8416) Andrea Palladio: Architecture, Theory & Legacy
The seminar is organized in such a way to analyze Palladio under four different aspects: his buildings, his theoretical production, his drawings and his legacy.
The first part will investigate the architectural features of a selection of meaningful construction in order to cover all the typologies: the city hall of Vicenza, private palaces including Thiene, da Porto, Chiericati and Valmarana. Country villas including villa Godi, Pisani at Bagnolo, Badoer at Fratta Polesine, Emo at Fanzolo, Barbaro at Maser, Poiana at Poiana, Cornaro at Piombino d'Ese, Malcontenta. Churches such as the Redentore and S. Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. The monastery of the Carità in Venice, The Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza and the Bridge at Bassano.
The second part of the seminar will focus on the theory and literature and will use the Rare Book Collection at Avery Library. Working on the original first edition of the "Four Books on Architecture", "Guide of Rome" and the "Julius Cesar's Polybius", it will be possible to grasp his architectural thought and, in general, the sense of Renaissance theory of Architecture.
(AHIS G8417) Paragone: Art Theory and Studio Practice in the Italian Renaissance
This seminar focuses on the conventions of comparison as the dialectical root of art criticism and stylistic development in Italian Renaissance art. Case studies of specific instances of artistic rivalry or competition will alternate with close readings of the primary texts, including Ghiberti's Commentarii, Manetti's Life of Brunelleschi, Leonardo's treatise on the paragone, and its deployment in the famous "disegno/colore" discussions found, for example, in Dolce's Aretino and, of course, Vasari's Vite.
(AHIS G8608) The Iconic Turn
Affirmations that images are endowed with a life of their own have become a commonplace in recent art historical literature. Older approaches to the life of images based on phenomenology, have been supplemented by fresh initiatives drawn from philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and science studies. This course will examine the claims made for the "presence" of objects—their power over their reception—made by a variety of recent authors in both art history and visual studies. Is it possible to wed this sensitivity to the agency of objects with interpretations that stress their ideological and political social function?
(AHIS G8653) The Bauhaus in America
M. de Michelis
This seminar focuses on architects, designers, and theorist associated with the Bauhuas School who relocated to the United States after 1933 and radically transformed many domains of architectural practice in this county. Focus will be on Gropius, Moholy-Nagy, and Mies van der Rohe.
(AHIS G8710) Modern Art and its Legacies in Latin America
This seminar will consider the impact of abstract art on practices of painting, sculpture and architecture in Latin America in the mid-twentieth century. Particular attention will be placed on the various ways in which artists in Latin America appropriated elements of the form of abstraction known as Concrete art, only to break with them on their way to developing new art movements. We will begin with an overview of the recent literature on abstract art. Then we will investigate the ways in which the Constructivist and Neo-Plasticist avant-gardes explored the possibilities of abstract art in the second and third decades of the century. This will set the stage for the second part of the course, which will study the history of nonrepresentational art, first in the Rio de la Plata region in the 1940s, and then in Brazil and Venezuela in the 1950s and 1960s. Emphasis will be placed on the ways in which these developments overlapped with each other, as well as on the impact they might have had on European and North American art. The third part of the course will examine the contributions of Latin American abstract artists on the development of kinetic and optical art in Europe in the mid-twentieth century, as well as the effect of these modes of art practice on late modern and contemporary art.
AHIS G6009) Proseminar
D. Rosand & J. Crary
Required course for first-year PhD Students in the Art History Department
(AHIS G8990) M.A. Colloquium
Required course for all first-year Modern Art M.A. students. The M.A. Colloquium, taken in the first term by all M.A. in Modern Art students, is designed to explore issues of historical and critical method by focusing them through the lens of a particular area of concern within the modernist field. These "lenses" will change from year to year, but an example would be the rise of photography within modernism, with all that it implies for the relationship between high art and mass culture and all that it signals with regard to new media. Another such example might be notions of "primitivism," which would lead to sessions ranging from postcolonial studies to contemporary art's use of ethnographic models; or again, contemporary architecture studies and theories of urbanism. The structure of the colloquium combines reading and analysis of major texts conducted by the major theorists and critics working in the given subject area.
(AHIS G8991) Curatorial Seminar
Required course for first-year Modern Art/Curatorial Track M.A. students. Beginning this fall the Curatorial seminar, formerly the Whitney Seminar, will be conducted in a modular format with guest speakers giving lectures for a limited number of weeks on various topics. A very limited number of spots are reserved for advanced M.A. students by seminar application only.