Spring 2011 Graduate Courses
(AHIS W3170) 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 G4072) Contemporary African Art
As philosopher Anthony Appiah asks: Is the "post" of "postcolonial" the same "post" found in "postmodern"? This course will investigate some of the major pressures shaping visual culture in Africa, 1950-2010. These include: emergence of new popular cultural forms (such as photography or comic books), development of parallel modernities and class divides, commodification of culture, experiments in Pan-Africanism , diasporic consciousness, the creation of "national" cultures, exhibitionism, and the emergence of international culture-brokers. The class will also consider the ideological import of battles over definitions of "Africa," "contemporary African art," and "contemporary African artist."
(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 W4089) Native American Art
This introduction to Native North American art surveys traditions of painting, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, photography and architecture and traces the careers of contemporary Indian modernists and postmodernists. It emphasizes artistic developments as a means of preserving culture and resisting domination in response to intertribal contact, European colonization and American expansion.
(AHIS W4354) Mapping Gothic France
The story of Gothic is traditionally recounted diachronically as architectural development. With our new interactive website, www.mappinggothicfrance.org, we challenge the user to entertain multiple stories and explore the synchronicity of architectural production, considering the space and time when France became France.
(AHIS G4480) Art and the Reformation
Artistic production in Germany and the Netherlands in the 16th century and the transformation of the social function of art as a consequence of the development of reformed theories of art and the introduction of humanist culture: Albrecht Dürer, Hans Baldung Grien, Hans Holbein the Younger, Albrecht Altdorfer, Quentin Massys, Lucas van Leyden, Jan Gossaert, Jan van Hemessen, and Pieter Aertsen.
(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 G6644) Structuralism, Poststructuralism, Modernism
The discourse on Modernism in the visual arts will be examined in relation to the theoretical positions of structuralism and post-structuralism, specifically the work of Roland Barthes and Jacques Derria.
Seminars and Colloquia
AHIS (G8020) Principles and Practice of Connoisseurship
Based largely on collections in New York, this course will examine the technical and technological principles underlying connoisseurship. It will begin with the history and theory of connoisseurship. The overall aim will be to outline the continuing relevance of attentiveness to the material aspects of the object as the basis for assigning authorship (even if anonymous), for critically distinguishing between originals and copies, authentic works and fakes, and the relationship between masterworks and studio products. Most classes will be held in museums or conservation studios. The major purview will be on paintings, drawings, prints, and possibly sculpture. The chief examples will come largely but but not entirely from Early Netherlandish Painting through Rubens and Rembrandt.
(AHIS G8102) Birds, Flowers, and Gardens in Chinese Painting and Decorative Arts
An examination of bird and flower painting, representations of gardens, and decorative arts with special emphasis on issues of symbolism, patronage, the relationship between words and images, the ritual uses of painting, and the relationship between pictorial style and visual experience.
(AHIS G8275) Ancient Rome at Columbia: Classical Scholarship and Archaeological Artifacts
F. de Angelis and M. Maiuro
'Ancient Rome at Columbia' is a research seminar focused on classical scholarship in America on the eve of the 20th century and on Columbia's archaeological collections. The seminar is meant as a preparatory step toward the exhibition Ancient Rome at Columbia [provisional title], to be held in the Rotunda of Low Library. The seminar is especially geared toward students of art history and archaeology, history (both ancient and contemporary), anthropology, and museum studies at the MA and PhD level as well as at the advanced undergraduate level.
(Please use the Ancient Rome at Columbia application form and not the standard form when applying for this class.)
(AHIS G8425) The High Renaissance Chapel
The seminar will look comparatively at the design and decoration of chapels in central Italy, ca. 1480-1520. Each student will be asked to work over the course of the semester on a single chapel from the period, reporting on that space during an initial field trip to Italy, then developing a research paper over the remainder of the term. Common readings and class discussions will look at the approaches scholars have taken to chapels in other places and periods, testing their relevance to the High Renaissance material. Due to space limitations during the fieldwork phase of the course, enrollment will be capped at 8. Course is only open to Ph.D. students in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University.
(AHIS G8495) Modern and Contemporary in China
In the last two decades, a contemporary visual art has arisen in Mainland China on an unprecedented scale and on a peculiar calendar, arising after the death of Mao, later encouraged by new economic policies, auction houses and market forces, biennials and fairs. In this Seminar, we explore this on-going episode and its implications within the emerging field of global art history and theory and the very idea of 'the contemporary'. We first look at the question of documents and methods available for its study in the context of new translations and intellectual debates. We then focus on the work of several key artists whose work refracts these questions and take up a number of specific current issues within the field: how the rise of contemporary ink painting draws on Asian visual tradition in new ways; how new museum expansions in Asia pose questions for the old nineteenth European 'museum without walls'; and how the uses of aesthetic or critical strategies of documentation, fiction, and realism depart from earlier forms. With the participation of a number of artists, critics and curators, and geared to related events in New York City, the Seminar is thus conceived as a laboratory for a critical investigation of the field, and is open to qualified students in all relevant disciplines and departments.
(AHIS G8560) Intermediality: Autobiography, Print Culture, and the Crisis of Representation in German Art and Aesthetics, 1780 to 1880
This graduate seminar combines the exploration of new theories of writing and representation—as they emerged at the end of the 18th (such as the arabesque, symbol/allegory, autobiography)—with an investigation of their subsequent reception in the visual arts during the 19th century. While some artists like Philipp Otto Runge succeeded in appropriating Romantic avant-garde writing techniques in the traditional medium of painting, the most productive area of the interaction between word and image (as well as theory and practice) was not high art, but the newly emerging illustrated book. The seminar will thus expand to consider the dramatic changes in print culture, reproductive techniques, and book production as a site of artistic innovation. This orientation also brings into focus the changing make-up of the audience and new practices of social engagement with art such as the tableau vivant.
(AHIS G8575) The Rococo and Its Methods
What was the Rococo? Or rather, how has the Rococo been defined? How and why was the Rococo revived, collected, and exhibited in the 19th and 20th centuries? How has it recently been studied by art historians, economic historians, labor historians, and literary critics? Long considered to be among the masterpieces of decorative arts history, rococo objects are now also understood to express some of modernity’s key values: private home life, consumer culture, women’s involvement in the arts, and global capitalism, as well as the emergence of Enlightenment resistance to royal authority.
This seminar examines a style and its historiography. Recent work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Collection, a panel at the spring 2011 CAA conference, and Art History Department guest events together make it possible to learn about the Rococo from some of the most eminent curators and academics in the field.
(AHIS G8582) Landscape and Enlightenment
V. Di Palma
Landscape plays a central role in eighteenth-century British aesthetics. Beginning with Locke's positing of the interaction between the human body and its environment as the basis of consciousness, hypotheses and arguments regarding the way in which this interaction was thought to take place proliferated over the course of the century. This graduate seminar examines the implications of this intertwined relationship between body, landscape, and consciousness for eighteenth-century ideas about nature, garden design, and the effects of different kinds of landscapes.
(AHIS G8652) Immaterial Bauhaus
We will interrogate those facets of the Bauhaus that challenged the limits of materiality: glass, light, color, photography, film, montage, theater, exhibition design. Now in the midst of a renaissance, the "immaterial" Bauhaus was long neglected for lack of documentation (e.g. theater and film) or ideological aversion (e.g. a certain strains of materialism). Through the close study of recently recovered or reconstructed historical materials—alongside primary texts, new Bauhaus scholarship, and media theory—we will reconstitute the immaterial Bauhaus crucial to interwar (and contemporary) aesthetic debates. The final weeks of the seminar will be dedicated to work-shopping student papers. (German competence preferred but not required.)
(AHIS G8704) Modes of Spectatorship, Participation, and Interactivity in Contemporary Art
This course will investigate what "participation" and "interactivity" in art might mean today. What have these terms come to signify? Why have they proliferated in recent years? What is their relationship to the prevalent modes of spectatorship in the period? Is there a coherent body of thought or artistic practices that they define? We will also explore the history of these terms within the visual arts, the social and intellectual conditions from which they originated, and the ethical implications and ideological stakes of an art of "participation" or "interactivity."
(AHIS G8805) Woman, Goddess, Power: India's Images of the Feminine
Students who have not taken formal classes in this material will be expected to acquire a basic level of familiarity with it by reading Vidya Dehejia's Indian Art (Phaidon Press). Explores the representation of the female figure in the artistic tradition of India, making use of literary extracts from the major texts of ancient India, as well as selected modern writings. While inter-disciplinary in approach, the emphasis is on the visual material. No attempt will be made to survey the material across the ages; rather the seminar will focus on specific periods and topics chosen because they present challenges to the viewer-reader. Emphasizing that there is no single over-arching way of presenting female imagery in India, nor indeed a single way of understanding or explaining it, each body of visual material will be placed within its specific socio-economic, historical, religious, and artistic milieu. In the first half of the semester, each class will consist of two sections. A class discussion in which all students will be expected to have read the material and participate, even though individual students may have been assigned the task of presenting prepared critiques, will be followed or preceded by a professorial presentation.
(AHIS G8991) Curatorial Colloquium
The Curatorial Colloquium is taken in the second semester of study and is required for the completion of the MA in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies. The course introduces students to the history, theory and practice of object collection and display as well as to exhibitions such as Documenta and the various international biennials. The course is designed to allow for guest presentations on particular issues by curators and museum professionals, 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 in the exhibition and display of modern and contemporary art. In addition to department faculty, curators from MoMA, the Whitney, the International Center for Photography, and other institutions regularly participate in the colloquium.
(AHIS G9572) Problems in 19th Century Art
This PhD seminar will develop a range of approaches to interrelated problems of melancholy, memory and modernity in nineteenth-century Europe. It will explore themes of spectrality and loss in visual art, including work by Géricault, Delacroix, Turner and Courbet, and in texts by Baudelaire, Nerval, Ruskin and others. Theoretical and critical studies will include readings in Kristeva, Agamben, Sartre, Ricoeur, Jameson, Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe. French reading proficiency recommended.
Museum Cultures and Experiences in Europe, 18th-20th Centuries
A seminar on the history and historiography of European modern and contemporary museums. Readings include recent work by art historians, museum curators, historians of nations and of nationalism, visual art specialists, and literary critics.