Fall 2009 Graduate Courses
(AHIS G4084) MesoAmerican Art & Architecture
A survey of the major pre-Hispanic cities of Mexico and Guatemala, including San Lorenzo, Teotihuacan, Tikal, Monte Alban, Uxmal, and Chichen Itza. Aesthetic, historical, and archaeological problems are discussed.
(AHIS G4106) The Indian Temple
This course explores the emergence and development of the Indian temple, examines the relationship between form and function, and emphasizes the importance of considering temple sculpture and architecture together. It covers some two thousand years of activity, and while focusing on Hindu temples, also includes shrines built to the Jain and Buddhist faiths.
(AHIS G4235) Violence in Greek Art
Greek art is usually associated with beauty, symmetry, and formal perfection. However, both the historical context that led to the creation of artistic expressions in various media and the majority of topics Greek artists chose to depict clearly demonstrate the violent origins of Greek art. Aim of this course is to break through the frame of what is considered the canonical image of Classical antiquity and shed light on the darker aspects of Greek art. The course will try to demonstrate how art in Classical Greece was used as an effective means in both dealing and channeling violence. Nevertheless, violence in art also represented a sophisticated way to create and demolish the image of dangerous otherness: the aggressive barbarian (Persian), the uncontrolled nature outside the constraints of the polis (Centaurs), the all too powerful female (Amazons).
(AHIS G4330) Paris in the Middle Ages
The urban fabric of Paris provides the connective tissue linking medieval achievements in architecture, sculpture, and painting with the history of the city from the Romans to the Renaissance.
(AHIS W4555) American Colonial Portraiture
This class surveys the field of American colonial portraitures, introducing the major figures in each region and analyzing their work in terms of its style and technique as well as the cultural expectations surrounding the making and viewing of the paintings. Attention will be paid to diverse material forma of portraiture, from miniatures to silhouettes, from oil paintings to engravings on individual sheets or bound into books. The class will pay particular attention to the ways in which portraiture facilitated and undermined the economic and political operations of the colonies.
(AHIS G4601) Origins of Modern Visual Culture
Major developments in the emergence of modern visual culture in Europe and North America, 1750-1900. Topics include the panorama, diorama, photography, painting, world's fairs, early cinema; issues in technology, urbanization and consumer society.
(AHIS G4640) German Art in a European Context
The class will examine the development of German painting and sculpture from the rise of Neoclassicism to the formation of Expressionism. It focuses on the tension, on the one hand, between a developing nationalist sensibility and the concomitant search for a national style, and, on the other hand, German art's intense engagement with the international art context. Given the particularities of German history, the question of periphery and center assumed a crucial role in the making of the German art world. Focusing on this problem will not only allow us to examine the love-hate relationship of Germans and their art, and the culture of France and England, but also to shed light on the role of the Austrian-Hungarian empire, East Prussia, and Poland in the creation of German (artistic) identity. Periphery and center will also be key concepts for thinking about another vital issue of the period: religion. In an age characterized by burgeoning confessionalism and the rise of an anti-Semitism now grounded in racist theories, religion served as an arbiter for inclusion and exclusion, and was thus inseparably intertwined with the debates about German national identity.
(AHIS W4870) Minimalism & Post-Minimalism
This course examines minimalism—one of the most significant aesthetic movements—during the sixties and seventies. More than visual art, the course considers minimal sculpture, music, dance, and "structural" film, their historical precedents, development, critical and political aspects. Artists include: Carl Andre, Tony Conrad, Dan Flavin, Eva Hesse, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Anthony McCall, Yvonne Rainer, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson.
(AHIS G6127) Painting & Calligraphy in the Northern Song Dynasty
An examination of painting during the Northern Song period (960-1127), with special emphasis on issues of patronage, the relationship between words and images, the ritual uses of painting, and the relationship between pictorial style and visual experience.
(AHIS G6150) Genesis of Buddhist Art
This course is devoted to the emergence of art related to Buddhism, commencing with Emperor Asoka's (3rd century BC) rock and pillar edicts erected from Kandahar in Afghanistan to Amaravati in South India. The course will focus on the vibrantly carved stupa complexes constructed and decorated between the 1st century BC and the 5th century BC, the many cave monastery complexes with their rich sculpted and painted decoration, and the images of the Buddha.
(AHIS G6650) Multiple Modernities
S. Vogel and faculty
A comparative approach to the vibrant contemporary arts outside the West which may not fit automatically into current concepts of modernity. The aim is to initiate the discourse for the study of modern art and architecture in the countries of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. Taught by Professors A. Alberro, V. Dehejia, R. Harrist, E. Hutchinson, K. Moxey, E. Pasztory, guest lecturers, and S. Vogel who is organizing the course.
(AHIS G6655) Art & Architecture & Art
M. De Michelis
The struggle between art and architecture seems to be one of the most unresolved issues of modern history of art. There are several different questions that need a new critical approach: Can we consider architecture as an artistic practice? How and why do the different artistic practices mutually influence each other? Can we still consider architecture as the synthesis of different artistic expression? How can we describe the changing attitudes in modern time (XIX and XX century)? Does the present globalization process transform the meanings and sense of that problem? How can we interpret the repeated experiments of collaboration between architects and artists? The lecture will address these issues through a series of introductory lectures, general discussions, and analysis of case-studies.
(AHIS G6685) What is Critical Theory
After the Second World War, there was a re-invention of critical theory in which the arts and art-history would play a key role. The idea of critique, going back to Kant and the Enlightenment, became a new question. Focusing on French theories within a larger international framework, this lecture course looks at a series of key topics and problems in this new critical theory, and then asks how it might be re-invented today within the context of the globalization of art and of theory.
Seminars and Colloquia
(AHIS G8170) Assyrian Art
This seminar will investigate Assyrian Art and Architectural forms and practices.
(AHIS G8356) Roman Art & Catholic Reform
This seminar examines the impact of the Council of Trent, new religious Orders, and new devotional practices on art and architecture made in Rome during the century between the opening of the Council of Trent in 1545 to the death of Pope Urban VIII Barberini in 1644.
(AHIS G8635) Degree Zero: Language and the Arts in Paris 1945-1968
This seminar will examine artistic production in Paris in relation to models of language, understood as both writing and speech. In the immediate aftermath of the war, artists were coping with the memory of language's propagandistic deployment. Accordingly, some artists staged the impossibility or futility of authentic communication, while others struggled to invent a new "universal" language. By the mid-50s, with the turn to an increasingly consumer-oriented society, language was regarded as largely commodified. This shift similarly prompted a range of responses in the art and theory of this time: from unfettered optimism to explicit critique. The seminar begins with the prospective radio broadcast of Antonin Artaud's screams in 1947-48 in order to trace the changing notions of language and communication in the arts and concludes with a discussion of the events May '68 and the attendant claim to a prise de parole (capture of speech).
(AHIS G8696) The Persistance of Futurisms
One hundred years ago, F.T. Marinetti published the Futurist manifesto in Paris's Le Figaro. Hailed as the first avant-garde, condemned for its fascist leanings, Futurism remains a bête noire in the history of modern art. With particular emphasis on Futurist writings and practices across media—not only painting and sculpture, but also photography, film, theater, and machines of all kinds—we will take advantage of recent publications and translations as well as a host of scholarly and artistic events that are being held in conjunction with the centennial anniversary (including Performa09, "Beyond Futurism" symposium at CU, etc). Readings will be drawn from Futurist manifestos, contemporary scholarship on Futurism (in English and French or Italian), and recent media theory (Virilio, Kittler, McLuhan, Hayles, et. al.), but students are encouraged to write on related topics from the late-nineteenth century to the present.
(AHIS G8765) Issues in Performance Art
Wedged between the rudiments of theater and the gestures of visual art, performance art came to prominence at the end of the twentieth century. Our concentration in this course will be on artists and practices after 1960. However, we will also consider the roots of this form in the first part of the twentieth century. Central to our investigations will be discussions surrounding performance as catalytic process, as temporal art, and issues of the body as form. African American performance will be the focus for this semester. We will also take advantage of Performa09, The Third Biennial of New Visual Art Performance which takes place November 1-22 and will be held at various venues around the city.
(AHIS G9107) Problems in Kano Painting
"Problems in Kano Painting" will begin with the work of Kano Motonobu and will seek to address the question of how this clan of painters managed to secure its position as official painters to Japan's rulers for nearly three centuries—a phenomenon unique in the history of art. We will also explore such topics as the ways in which it expanded its painting repertoire beyond its origins in monochrome ink painting, what is meant by an "academic" painting tradition in the Japanese context, its systems of training, promotion, and the economics of their enterprise, and the institutionalization of the Kano project through the writing of art historical treatises.
(AHIS G6009) Proseminar
Required course for first-year PhD Students in the Art History Department.
(AHIS G8990) Critical Colloquium
Required course for all first-year Modern Art M.A. students. The structure of the colloquium combines reading and analysis of texts by major theorists and critics. Each week discussions focus on key terms and analytical lenses in the history of art and art criticism. The course is designed to allow for guest presentations on particular issues by critics and writers, just as it draws on the expertise and participation of Columbia faculty. The aim is to develop students' critical thinking and for them to learn directly from leading practitioners writing about modern and contemporary art. In addition to department faculty, writers for Artforum, Grey Room, Parkett, Texte zur Kunst, and October, among other venues, regularly participate in the colloquium.