Spring 2009 Graduate Courses
(AHIS G4085) Andean Art & Architecture
Survey of the art of the Andes from earliest times until the Spanish conquest. Emphasis on the nature of Andean tradition and the relationship between art and society.
(AHIS G4120) Asian Art & Art Institutions
(AHIS W4357) Gothic Architecture
How have "Gothic" edifices been represented in words and images? Examines monuments and considers the historiography and theories that they have generated.
(AHIS G4385) Renaissance Architecture, History & Theory
A survey of Renaissance Architecture in Italy through its buildings and its theory, from Brunelleschi to Palladio and the influence to other European country.
(AHIS G4422) Painting in Early Renaissance Florence
This course surveys developments in Florentine painting form the late 14th to the late 15th centuries. It will place special emphasis on monumental fresco painting on the relationships among panting, sculpture, and architecture; and on the shaping of individual styles in a period of intense competition.
(AHIS G4523) Foucault & the Arts
We will explore the work of Michel Foucault in its relations with visual art, its criticism and its history. We examine the development of his historical work, his critical aims, and his methods in and through their relations with the visual arts and art institutions: first, through his own criticism or analysis of Raymond Roussel, Manet, Velasquez, and Magritte, and views on the museum; then through his invention of new sorts of archival work, fictions and other documentary forms, and finally through his reflections on the question of artistic work as a 'technique of subjectivisation' or as 'critical act of enlightenment'. We then consider attempts to extend these aspects of his work today in new ways or in relation to new problems.
(AHIS W4626) Tourism and the North American Landscape
This course will look at the relationship between 19th century landscapes (paintings, photographs, illustrations, and other forms of visual culture) and tourism in North America. Several class sessions will be devoted to case studies of different tourist destinations including the Catskills, Niagara Falls, Mayan ruins, the Antebellum South, Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. We will read representations of these American landscapes against nineteenth-century travel literature, guidebooks and other visual documents to obtain a richer understanding of the historical context in which such imagery circulated.
(AHIS G4703) Japanese Architecture from the mid-19th Century to the Present
This class will examine the history of Japanese architecture and urban planning from the mid-19th century to the present.
(AHIS W4855) African American Artists in the 20th & 21st Centuries
This course is a survey of visual production by North Americans of African descent from 1900 to the present. It will look at the various ways in which these artists have sought to develop an African American presence in the visual arts over the last century. We will discuss such issues as: what role does stylistic concern play; how are ideas of romanticism, modernism, and formalism incorporated into the work; in what ways do issues of postmodernism, feminism, and cultural nationalism impact on the methods used to portray the cultural and political body that is African America?
(AHIS G6450) Titian
Lectures on the art of Titian and its resonance, the position of the artist and his achievement within a Venetian context and beyond. Topics will include: issues of style and technique, the development of oil painting and a pittura di macchia; the altarpiece; religious narrative; mythological narrative; portraiture; the graphic arts and printing in Venice; Titian's circle of friends (Aretino and Sansovino); patterns of patronage; politics and religion; Titian's legacy.
(AHIS G6670) Interwar Photography & Film
At the center of the avant-garde imagination—and the interwar period in Europe more broadly—were photography and film. Long relegated to the margins of art history and rarely studied together, photography and film were variously the guiding light and mass dissemination of avant-garde images and techniques. This lecture course delves into interbellum photography, film, and writing as it surveys a range of avant-garde movements and national cinemas; seminal artists and theorists; and topics such as montage, abstraction, advertising, sites of reception, and the arrière-garde. Film screenings will take place most Tuesday evenings.
Seminars and Colloquia
(AHIS G8040) History of Architectural and Design Exhibitions at the MoMA
From it's first seminal exhibition on the International Style curated by Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson in 1932 to the "Light Construction" and "Un-private House" exhibitions organized by Terence Riley in the 1990s, the Architecture & Design Department at MOMA has played an important role in defining architecture both for practicioners and a wider public. This course will examine the history of the department, of it's role in designing and conceiving exhibitions at every scale from photography displays to the houses built in the garden by Breuer and Ain, and of it's reception and influence.
(AHIS G8075) The Object & the Museum: African Art in the West
The vast majority of all the African art objects in the world today are held by collections outside the continent. Studies of classical African art normally—and appropriately—focus on the original historical context of the works in Africa, bypassing this anomaly. This seminar for advanced graduate students will examine the problematics of the situation—the factors that drained Africa of its old art objects, and current issues and practices in collecting. Students will confront the physical object, removed from its village, redefined and recontextualized in Manhattan as an element of western décor or material culture. Readings and class discussions will cover the ethics of collecting, the market, and the display of religious or sensitive objects; conflicts over identity, representation, and whose message will be heard in the museum; questions of forgery, quality and museum authority—among many other issues of contention including definitions of African art itself. Taking advantage of New York City's abundance of collections, the course will offer students direct contact with major works of African art.
(AHIS G8116) Landscape and Representation in China
The landscape of China is marked by sites that have acquired lasting cultural significance through the interactions of myth, ritual, literature, and the visual arts. Representations of these sites, which include sacred mountains, scenic areas, and tourist destinations, promoted habits of viewing that directed visitors to seek out unusual vistas, strange rock formations, or ancient monuments. Memories of historical events or famous people associated with the sites added to their mystique. Among the most notable sites that will be covered in the seminar are Mt. Tai, a mountain sacred in both Confucian and Daoist thought; Mt. Huang, an area of spectacular, rugged peaks that became a popular tourist site in the 17th century; and Tiger Hill, a frequent destination of literati visitors from the Suzhou area.
The seminar will require a broadly interdisciplinary approach, and students will be encouraged to draw on methodologies from art history, anthropology, the history of religion, and other fields. Readings in the history and theory of landscape in the West also will be included in the seminar in order to broaden the range of questions that can be asked about the experience of landscape in China.
(AHIS G8119) Asian Art & Art Institutions
(AHIS G8158) Topics in Ancient Near Eastern Art: Art of the Second Millennium
This seminar will investigate art and concepts of art and aesthetics in the second millennium BC. The seminar will be focused on the cultures of the Ancient Near East and is intended to provide in depth tutoring and a format for discussion for advanced graduate students who are being prepared for the PhD degree in ancient Near Eastern art and archaeology. The texts consulted will include primary ancient texts in the Akkadian language, as well as secondary literature on the art and archaeology of second millennium Mesopotamia and the larger ancient Near Eastern and Eastern Mediterranean areas. The seminar will also make use of objects that will be on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the spring of 2009, in the exhibition scheduled to open at the same time. The seminar will therefore also be able to investigate questions of historiography and exhibition practices of Near Eastern Antiquity.
(AHIS G8215) Stories and Histories in Stone: Archaic Greek Sculpture
The seminar will focus on the stylistic and formal analysis of Archaic sculpture, mainly the Kouros and Kore types, as well as on the puzzling visual ambiguity of the images, which enabled their semantic polyvalence as reflected in their manifold functions.
(AHIS G8323) Ink Paintings of Medieval Japan
Explores the origins and development of the ink painting tradition in Japan from the 14th-16th centuries, paying special attention to Chinese precedents, the format of the poem-picture scroll, and the Japanese Zen monastic milieu in which the genre flourished.
(AHIS G8325) Japanese Cultural Identity and the Problem of "Tradition" in the Arts
This seminar will examine debates over the meanings of "Japanese Tradition" and its significance for contemporary cultural practices from the mid-19th century to the present.
(AHIS G8333) Matter of Faith: The Cult of Relics in the Middle Ages
This graduate seminar explores the Christian cult of relics from Late Antiquity through the late Middle Ages. Given their importance as manifestations of the presence of Christ and his saints on earth, relics were treasured by the Christian faithful, who kept them in precious containers known as reliquaries. If these vessels preserved their sacred contents, the forms and materials used in their construction gave physical expression to the divine nature of the matter they enshrined. It is the goal of this course to investigate the strategies and approaches taken to the preservation and veneration of sacred relics and their artistic presentation in Byzantium and the Medieval West.
(AHIS G8621) Black British Art & Theory
This course considers the development of visual culture in this European outpost of the African Diaspora. Of interest is the way the discipline of cultural studies, which evolved in postwar Birmingham, intersected with the rise of black consciousness throughout Britain in the 1980s. How did the interactions of intellectuals and artists at this moment in the late 20th century lead to the creation of strong postcolonial theory and practice? Readings include works by Bhabha, Carby, Gilroy, Hall, Maharaj, and Mercer. We will look at visual production by Bhimji, Boyce, D-Max, Fani-Kayode, Julien, Kempadoo, Piper, and Pollard among others. We will also discuss selected exhibitions and publications that supported this movement.
(AHIS G8627) Ornament & Architecture
V. Di Palma
(AHIS G8686) Methods Seminar: Picasso
Four major exhibitions are taking place in Spring 2009 devoted to Picasso et les maitres. This seminar will explore art-historical treatments of Picasso and cubism, as well as the vexing issue of pastische. Reading will include Gérard Gennette, Jean-Joseph Goux, and René Girard, among others.
(AHIS G8697) Modernism without Organs: John Cage and the Visual Arts
John Cage—known as one of the West's most avant-garde composers, who delivered his music over to chance and made compositions without any sounds—is routinely invoked as an important "influence" on contemporary art. His artistic connections include Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, and Andy Warhol; Allan Kaprow, Alison Knowles, Dick Higgins, George Brecht, Robert Whitman, Robert Morris, La Monte Young and the general areas of happenings, fluxus, and early minimalism; the cinematic endeavors of Stan VanDerBeek; the dance of Merce Cunningham, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer, and more. Nevertheless, the understanding of Cage's role within the arts has been more often marginalized or repressed than investigated or explored. In this course, we will seek to flesh out the Cagean "paradigm" in its historical and theoretical specificity and to pursue a genealogical investigation into the operation, impact, and implication of ideas such as silence, space, chance, indeterminacy, and multiplicity as they were adopted, adapted, and/or resisted within the post-War development of the visual arts.
(AHIS G8701) Problems in Style
The central problem for study and discussion will be the "late style" of artists, testing the notion of "old-age style." Preliminary topics for discussion will include: concepts of "style" and models of its assumed development; the "life" of styles and the life of the artist. The focus will be on particular cases, individual artists in several traditions, west and east, ancient and modern.
(AHIS G8868) Addressing Sensation in Architecture
M. De Michelis