This course examines the painting and sculpture of Italy from about 1300 to 1550. Probing why the Italian Renaissance was so pivotal in the development of western art, the course examines changes in art styles and techniques, artists’ responses to medieval and classical art, and the impact of historical developments in religion, politics, society, and patronage. Students will become familiar with the work of major artists and with the variations that existed among different regions of Italy.
This course examines the art produced in Flanders, France, and Germany between about 1300 and 1550, focusing primarily on painting, sculpture, and printmaking. It begins with early 14th-century illuminated manuscripts and the subsequent development of the International Style. It then considers Flemish 15th-century painting in some detail, concluding with a study of Flemish and German art of the 16th century.
This course surveys painting, sculpture, photography, and architecture in the United States from European settlement to 1945. The underlying theme is how art in the United States has helped project various new ideologies and values associated with this young and unique nation. Issues to be considered in relation to art include Protestant values, democracy, wilderness, racial conflict, capitalism, popular culture, and America’s gradual rise to power.
This course will examine the art of the 17th century in Italy, Flanders, Spain, the Netherlands and France. The emphasis will be on painting, although sculpture will be studied as well. Particular attention will be given to the impact of the Counter Reformation, the features of Baroque naturalism, the use of allegory, and attitudes towards the antique by artists of this period.
This course examines the radical transformation in European art from the age of kings to the age of revolutions, c.1770-1840. Painting, sculpture, and printmaking will be discussed in relation to various historical developments, including the decline of aristocratic culture and Christianity; the rise of science, industry, and democracy; and the emergence of modern notions of nature, individuality, and primitivism. The movements of Neoclassicism and romanticism are treated in depth.
This course examines the early formation of modern European visual culture, from Realism to the threshold of the 20th century. The underlying historical theme will be the rise of bourgeois society and culture. Painting, sculpture, printmaking, and photography will be discussed in the context of related ideological issues such as industrial capitalism, mass media, urban leisure, tourism, new gender roles, and European imperialism. The movements of Realism, Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism are treated in depth.
In art, as in other fields of knowledge, the late 19th century and the early 20th century was a time when pre-existing assumptions were challenged in a radical way. To certain artists in Europe, for instance, illusionistic realism or the conventions of perspective no longer seemed adequate tools for representing the world and our experience of it. Amongst the factors provoking this crisis of vision was an increasing awareness of other cultures and their differing modes of visual representation, and many non-Western artists shared with their Western counterparts this new sense of the relativity of cultural knowledge, although they tended to respond to it in different ways. Vision in Crisis will examine this moment of great artistic change, focusing primarily on European examples, with Chinese art being taken as the main non-Western case for study. Artists whose work may be discussed in depth include Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse.
Although certain 20th century artists can be taken as celebrating the modern, many artists offered instead a critical engagement with the newly-emerging forms of experience they were encountering, or sought various forms of escape from them. While the response of European artists to the modern condition is most well known, artists from other parts of the world were equally engaged with the task of creating an art adequate to the new environment in which they found themselves. Both will be considered in this course, which will focus primarily on European art of the first half of the 20th century. Chinese art will provide the main non-Western case for study. Abstract art, Futurism, Expressionism, Dada and Surrealism may all be considered.
Paris has been described as the capital of the 19th century, and indeed one can talk of a European cultural hegemony that lasted until the outbreak of the Second World War. The postwar period, however, saw a migration of cultural authority across the Atlantic to the United States, and with the ending of the Cold War American cultural dominance seemed to become even more deeply entrenched. If the close of the colonial era did not then eliminate the asymmetry of power between Western and non-Western cultures, it did at least alter the conditions for artistic production in the latter. Furthermore, with an increasing pace of globalization at the end of the century, the opportunities for non-Western artists to reach new audiences have expanded enormously. This course will begin with a consideration of Pollock and Abstract Expressionism, and later developments in American art will be a major focus of the course, which will also be concerned to document the contribution of non-Western artists. A thematic approach will be adopted, with tendencies such as Pop Art, Minimal and Post-Minimal art, Environmental and Installation Art, Performance Art, Conceptual and Neo-Conceptual Art being amongst those which may be considered. A wide variety of artworks dating from 1945 to the present day will be discussed.
Tracing the development of modernity in Western architecture, this course examines a series of movements and cities from the mid-18th century to the present. Major examples include Neoclassicism in Washington, D.C., Haussmann’s renovation of Paris, colonialism in Hong Kong and Shanghai, skyscrapers in Chicago and New York, and the international spread of Modernism and the diverse movements that have followed it. Emphasis is placed on construction technology, architectural theory, and the way buildings express institutional ideologies. Tutorials include visits to local buildings.
This course will consider the representation of women in Western art and the various roles they have played in its production. Examples will range from the Ancient world to Contemporary Art, with special attention to issues of portraiture and self-portraiture, as well as the ways in which the portrayal of the female artist has changed over time.
This course surveys Japanese visual arts from prehistory to the twentieth century. Lectures are chronologically arranged under thematic headings of: religion and politics, cross-cultural influences and urban arts. We will be looking at a diverse range of materials including painting, sculptures, prints, textiles and ceramics. The aim is to establish a solid critical foundation of Japanese art history.
This class will examine the role of gender in the production, consumption, and interpretation of Chinese art. Classes are chronologically organized into three broad time periods covering different themes each week. Topics will include the coding of landscapes and bird-and-flower paintings as gendered spaces, and the construction of male and female socio-political identities in portraits and figure paintings. The course is not intended to provide an overview of Chinese art, but a base that can challenge traditional perceptions of what constitutes masculinity and femininity. The broad historical frame will address how socio-cultural factors influencing gender roles in the arts, culture, and society changed over time. It will, more importantly, look at how these issues intersect with questions of ethnicity, social hierarchy, economic and cultural capital, and nationalism.
This course will provide an overview of the developments in the visual arts in China from the 19th century to the present day, and will relate them to broader changes in Chinese politics and society. It will look at the ways in which the physical materiality of objects, as well as the social roles of its makers and audiences, changed over this period. A broad range of visual objects will be covered in this course including paintings in different formats and mediums, architecture, graphics and photography. Our fundamental concern will be to examine art’s role in the rapidly changing world of modern China.
This course is a study of the developments in architecture in South and Southeast Asia. It will offer a selective overview of the styles, theories, and structures of architecture from antiquity to the twenty-first century. This course utilizes a thematic approach aimed at understanding the relationships between private property, public authority, and power as articulated in architecture.
The course explores the formations of Chinese figure painting or the painting of people in the Song and Yuan dynasty. It begins by investigating the types of portrayals of Tang-dynasty aristocrats and other social worthies to establish the forms of normative portraiture. The course moves on to consider changes in figure painting and its subject matter. The class also investigates a related development in the painting of animals as substitutes for representations of people. Topics discussed include the portrayal of the non-Chinese who lived in frontier areas from the Tang to the Yuan, the Song dynasty’s re-appraisal of the common person and his or her depiction, and the motivations for the use of animals to represent people. The course concludes by evaluating the impact of Mongol rule on figure painting.
This course will begin with the 16th century and the arrival of the Jesuits and continue to the present. It will examine artists’ responses to the outside world and investigate how cultural exchanges were formed, merged, and clashed. Topics covered will include Western science and local culture in the Ming dynasty, Manchu identity and Qing expansionism, export trade art, Western impact on prints, intra-Asian paintings, and visions of the “East” in the global art world.
This course aims to give students an introduction to the principles and practices of working in an art museum. It will be conducted by curatorial staff of the University Museum and Art Gallery. Students majoring in Fine Arts are given first preference, but other students fulfilling the prerequisite may apply. Students wishing to apply for admission to FINE4005 (Fine Arts internship (capstone)) are strongly urged to take this course first, ideally in their third year.
This course introduces artistic practices and material culture in Africa. Overviewing the diversity of African practices, styles, and mediums, it ranges from the earliest sculptural traditions to modern developments in the 20th century, analyzing art, architecture, and material culture in relation to religious beliefs, social identity, political organization, and the radical changes brought by colonialism and modernity.
This course examines the bourgeoning development of contemporary Chinese art in relation to its shifting socio-political and cultural realities since the end of the Cultural Revolution. Structured around a series of thematic studies on major exhibitions and artworks made and displayed at different stages, this course addresses issues relating to art criticism, institutional censorship, public engagement and art market, investigating unprecedented transnational flows and cross-cultural exchanges within the increasingly interconnected, yet unevenly developed contemporary art world. This course draws particular attention to the practices of Chinese women artists, including Shen Yuan, Lin Tianmiao, Yin Xiuzhen, Lu Qing, Xing Danwen, Kan Xuan, Cao Fei and others, interrogating and challenging the unacknowledged, unquestioned marginalised status of women in the mainstream discourses of Chinese avant-garde art.
This course examines the history and significance of land and its depiction in China from the fifth to the twentieth century. We will examine the cultural circumstances that promoted landscape to one of the most important subjects in Chinese art. Emphasis is placed on historical and interpretive issues that are important to the analysis of artwork and meaning.
This course surveys Islamic art and architecture from the beginnings of Islam in the 7th century through the early modern period. It covers Umayyad Jerusalem and Damascus, Abbasid Baghdad, Fatimid Cairo, the period of the Crusades, the impact of the Mongols, and the Mamluk and Ottoman Empires. Throughout the course, we explore interactions between Islamic art and neighboring peoples and cultures.
Architecture is one of the most visible means for our interaction with the physical environment. It is a discipline that combines art, function, and public display. This course explores the history of East Asian architecture from early times to the present with an emphasis on religious, cultural, economic, and political contexts. Key structures including urban planning are taken as case studies for in depth discussion. Emphasis is placed on learning how to read the functional considerations and the symbolic meanings of works of architecture.
Ancient Egyptian civilisation endured for more than 3,000 years and the many monuments, objects, and hieroglyphs that have survived are testimony to the splendour of ancient Egyptian culture, the beauty of its art, astounding accomplishments in its architecture, and the richness of its religious traditions. This course provides a general introduction to ancient Egyptian art and architectural forms (e.g. pyramids, tombs, temple complexes, wall paintings, sculpture, hieroglyphs), beginning with the period of unification (3100 BC), through the Old, Middle, and New Kingdom dynasties, and continuing to the beginning of the Ptolemaic period in 332 BC. Key political, military, cosmological, and socio-cultural developments in Egypt’s history will be examined in relation to artistic and architectural practices.
The course examines the development of Western architecture from Classical Antiquity to the eighteenth century. We will begin by studying the buildings of the Greek and Roman civilizations, and those of the Middle Ages, before shifting our focus to Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo architecture in Early Modern Europe, and its offshoots around the world. While the course is, in part, a survey of buildings and architectural styles, we will emphasise the relation of architecture to its social, historical and intellectual contexts, and will also focus on particular buildings, architects and architectural theorists in greater depth.
The garden and its representations have long played a key role in the visual culture of Europe and the Americas. This course will trace the development of the garden and other cultivated landscapes in the West from the Renaissance to the nineteenth-century, from aristocratic estates to public parks. Special emphasis will be placed on the interpretation of different forms of literary, visual, and documentary evidence for the theory and practice of Early Modern garden design. Students will examine and analyze representations of gardens, including drawings, paintings and poetry. We will also explore the garden as a locus of cultural and botanical exchange, a site where objects and ideas from Asia and the New World were transplanted and naturalized.
This course will survey the ways in which strategies of collecting and display developed in the West from c. 1500 to the mid-nineteenth century. Drawing on examples from Italy, France, Britain, Germany and the early years of the American republic, it will explore the history of a broad range of modes of collecting, as well as issues such as antiquarianism, connoisseurship, and the rise of the public art museum. The museum will be examined in its social context, and in relation to other culturally important institutions, including the art market, the academy, the court, and the nation-state.
This course addresses the stylistic evolution of the sculptural object in the early 20th century. With an eye on the elements of social and political change, we will consider the rise of the avant-garde, the impact of new artistic methods and materials introduced by Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism and others. Although the course is organized historically, it is also designed to crisscross through a number of intersecting themes around the production and consumption of sculpture up to 1945.
This early modern period (ca. 1450 – ca. 1700) was a great period of European urbanism. Cities developed rapidly in response to political and religious change, economic development and trade, and advances in military technology. Ruling elites invested heavily in ambitious buildings and urban spaces. Architects and planners devised new styles, building types, and urban forms. Political thinkers reconsidered and redefined the idea of the city as a human community. The expansion of Europe through exploration and colonization brought Western forms of urbanism to the Americas and Asia, and brought Europeans into contact with the urbanistic achievements of other cultures. Many of Europe’s major urban centres acquired their defining features during this period. We will look at Florence, Venice, Rome, London, Paris, Versailles and the cities of the Low Countries, as well as European exports like Mexico City and, closer to home, Macau. As well as studying a range of major metropolitan and colonial cities, we will examine the impact of broad social phenomena, such as the court society and the public sphere, and the development of building types and urban forms and of new forms of visual representation.
No matter what our cultural background, clothes are the objects and fashion the art form closest to our selves. Historians of art, including those specializing in the study of textiles and dress, have developed a variety of ways of talking about clothing that illuminate the rich cultural matrix from which it emerges. An understanding of the history of fashion, and the way that dress has been represented in various contexts, can also provide an important tool for analyzing other works of art, including portraits and the visual culture of exploration. This course is divided into four principal methodological approaches: design history, material culture, constructions of gender, and fashion theory. It includes readings based on the study of textiles, historical items of dress, representations of costume and the discourses of fashion. While concentrating on the development of fashion in the West, processes of adoption and adaptation of extra-European commodities and ideas are also emphasised. Drawing on a variety of topics ranging from the sixteenth century to the present day, the course explores the intersection of the world of fashion with cultural exchange, consumption, class formation, and changing definitions of masculinity and femininity.
This course examines the complicated links between art and politics during the 20th century, a period typified by continuous political unrest and military conflicts. Examining case studies from varied regions of the world throughout the century, we ask what functions artists might occupy in times of war or turmoil, and what role the visual might have in expressing political opinions and promoting political ideas. Materials include fine arts, photography, and other forms of visual culture. Case studies might include the Russian Revolution, the First and Second World Wars; the American civil rights movement; Apartheid in South Africa; the fall of the Soviet Union; and the Cultural Revolution and June 4th demonstrations in China.
This course introduces students to art history as an academic discipline. It surveys the development of the study of art and familiarises students with a range of methodological approaches and their applications, from early traditions of art historical writing, through the emergence of art history as a distinct field of study, to its transformation and development up to the present. The course also instructs students in the writing and study skills specific to art history.
This course will survey decorative arts from the early modern period (1600-1900) and introduce directions in which to study objects, workshop practices, the history of collecting, and the international and cross-cultural influences upon both artists and collectors. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, art and propaganda, the court and royal academies of art, local art markets and international influences, chinoiserie and intercultural exchange, and the social history of material culture.
China has one of the oldest, continuous cultures of print in the world. This course will explore various formats and contexts in which the visual print circulates, from sutra handscrolls and dharanis to illustrations in string-bound books, sheet prints, new year prints, pictorials (huabao), calendars, and propaganda posters. The impact of technology on visuality from woodblock and movable type to colour printing and western mechanized printing is also examined.
The classical tradition has had an enduring effect on the history of Western art, providing both iconic monuments and aesthetic principles that have inspired and challenged successive generations of artists, architects, and other cultural practitioners. This course will survey Greek and Roman art and architecture from c.1000 BCE to c.500 CE, stretching from the rise of Greek city states to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. We examine works of art and architecture in a variety of materials, forms, and motifs, supplemented by writings from the period that influenced subsequent developments in Western culture. Important themes include the public and private, gender, mythology, patronage, and the ancient city.
This course is an introduction to Chinese calligraphy from early imperial to contemporary period and will include both ink works, reproductions of calligraphy including rubbings of stele inscriptions and epitaphs, and seals. The course, thematically arranged, considers calligraphy within a variety of contexts (i.e. archaeological, cultural, historical, social and religious) to study the form, materiality and history of calligraphy. Other aspects such as social status of calligraphers and collectors, collecting practices, technologies and impact of printing, modern writing reform and national identity, as well as the computerization of writing will be covered. The course will include lectures, practical workshops, group discussion and when possible museum visits.
In Europe, as elsewhere, the eighteenth century was a period of innovation and profound cultural transformation. The years between the 1690s and the French Revolution of 1789 saw the emergence of new styles and genres in painting and new ways of making and understanding art, while media like drawing and printmaking achieved a new-found prominence. We explore this art through the work of painters like Watteau, Chardin, Hogarth, Reynolds, and Gainsborough and sculptors like Falconet, Roubiliac, and Houdon. While concentrating on Britain, France, and their colonies, we also examine the international culture of the court in Italy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and parts of Northern Europe. We also look at the eighteenth-century interior, emphasizing its social function as a context for the display of fine and decorative arts and its role within a nexus of global trade, exploration, and exploitation.
This course studies art and architecture created in East Asia during the seminal period when Buddhism was introduced to China and then transmitted to Korea and Japan. Focusing on the period c.300-c.1500, it examines selected key sites and significant works in all three countries. Students will become familiar with important figures in the Buddhist pantheon; the iconography, gestures, and postures associated with Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and other deities; and popular narratives and architectural features associated with early Buddhist practice. These visual and iconographic features will also be studied in their historical, political, economic, and social contexts.
This course explores the large realm of the production of material culture in China in order to elucidate historical concerns, attitudes, and social needs as embedded in objects. Materials include jade, bronze, ceramic, furniture, and architecture from the Shang to the Qing dynasties. The class discusses how these materials played a critical role in the intellectual and artistic discourses throughout history. Students will visit the University Museum and Art Gallery in HKU for an extensive viewing experience.
This course explores the dynamic relationships between the gendering of space and how sexuality is both experienced and expressed in architectural form. Proceeding in a chronological fashion through several periods and locations, the course focuses on a series of key case studies within broader themes. The themes covered will be, Architects and Patronage; Religion and Politics; Bodies and Cities; and Resistance and Contestation. A range of interdisciplinary texts will be discussed and key theorists, such as Richard Wrigley, Louise Durning, Lynn Spiegel, Doreen Massey and Michel Foucault will be compared and critiqued. The course will present the students with architectural, textual, cinematic and geographical examples, in order to train them to approach a wide range of visual evidence. Throughout, production of gender in the domestic, the public, the political and the economic spheres will come under questioning. Ultimately, there will be an emphasis on understanding and critiquing a range of theoretical and methodological approaches.
This course examines the global circuits of contemporary art from 1980 to the present through a consideration of various biennales, triennials, and global art fairs in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. The class begins by investigating two landmark exhibitions – Primitivism in 20th Century Art (New York, 1985) and Magiciens de la Terre (Paris, 1989) – in order to consider the perception and presentation of so-called “non-western art” and to broadly historicize present-day “global” art practice. Topics will include the reappraisal of the western/non-western division, the importance of artistic identity, and the promotion of art as cultural ambassador.
This course examines how some of the objects we find in museums and collections came to be regarded as art. More specifically some objects and styles of painting are associated with the literati, a highly educated group of scholars who established certain forms of culture as their own from the Tang and Song to Yuan dynasties. By looking at the contexts of when ceramics, bronzes, calligraphy and some forms of painting were first assigned as art we can see the literati mind guiding the process in the construction of these objects as literati art.
This course looks at the history of photography in North America from its inception to the turn of the new millennium. Lectures are chronologically and thematically arranged to highlight how photography has been variously used as a tool for scientific observation, social documentary and aesthetic engagement. As we move through the course, students will be introduced to key figures in both the history and theory of photography so that they may critically assess the role of photography as a medium of expression.
This course surveys the development of contemporary art in India from the 1970s to the present. The lectures are arranged chronologically to give students an essential foundation upon which to consider how contemporary art responds to local and global changes. During the 1980s painting was often the medium of choice and issues of identity and cultural heritage were key concerns; however, the arrival of the new millennium witnessed a significant change in materials and artistic approach. These shifts and turns are a fundamental concern as we examine the role Indian art now plays in the increasingly global art world.
This course surveys the art and architecture of Europe and Byzantium during the Middle Ages, a thousand-year period from ca. 400 to 1400. Exploring medieval art and visual culture chronologically, we will consider a number of topics central to medieval society including monasticism, saints and their relics, pilgrimage, and court culture. The course covers the wide range of medieval artistic production, from various forms of painting and sculpture to wood and ivory carving, mosaic, metalwork, textiles, and architecture.
This course surveys the history of ceramics in China from the Neolithic era to contemporary times. It focuses on the production, consumption, collection and theoretical aspects that have shaped the legacy of Chinese ceramics. Central to the survey is the role of social, political and historical forces on the styles and shapes of various types of ceramic objects. Special attention will be given to the development of porcelain and the construction of its cultural value or veneration in Chinese social practices.
This course provides an introduction to issues, practices and critiques of contemporary art since the 1960s. It is organized thematically rather than chronologically, focusing on specifically chosen artworks, projects or exhibitions each week. Moving across a wide range of media, techniques and display formats, this course considers different curatorial, theoretical and interpretative stances in the production, display and distribution of contemporary art within the increasingly globalized art world; it considers how works of art might reflect on our present living situation beyond the art field and relate to wider communities within and across regional and national boundaries.
This course explores distinct characteristics of Korean art and material culture from the Three Kingdoms to the Chosŏn dynasty. Students investigate a diverse range of materials including burial object, Buddhist art, decorative art, painting, calligraphy, and architecture with special attention to religion, patronage, and gender. The class includes the demonstration of basic techniques of painting, calligraphy, and seal carving, which provides an opportunity for students to understand the significance of materiality in art and a critical tool to analyze visual and material culture of Korea.
This class explores distinct characteristics of paintings including Buddhist paintings, landscape paintings, portraits, paintings of flowers and animals, documentary paintings, and decorative court paintings during the Koryŏ and the Chosŏn dynasties. The critical issues such as materiality, politics, patronage, religion, and gender will be covered in class. The aim of this course is to understand the stylistic developments of important artists, the formation of major schools, and the establishment of critical theories in regard to social, historical, and intellectual contexts.
This class will acquaint students with the artistic styles, traditions, and techniques in the history of ceramics in China, Japan, and Korea from the tenth to the eighteenth centuries., with particular attention to the social and intellectual climate across geographical boundaries. The class discusses domestic and export ceramics, changes in aesthetic concept, consumption and collecting, as well as interaction with other cultures. Through a comparative approach, this class aims to understand the vibrant cultural dynamics in East Asia.
This course examines abstract and figurative representations of the human body in contemporary art. It will explore works across a range of media which challenge and redefine the ways we consider gender and sexuality. The course will introduce a set of tools to analyse multiple art forms which artists have used to reconfigure questions of sexuality, gender, queerness, and the performance of ‘self’, and will look into the wider art historical, socio-political and cultural conditions that shaped their creation and interpretation. The course will conclude by investigating how the artistic exploration of gender and sexuality has been increasingly intertwined with issues of class, race, and ethnicity, especially in the face of the unprecedented transnational and transregional flows of human bodies within the contemporary world. We will discuss works by artists engaging with female and male, trans, straight and LGBTQ identities, who may include but are not limited to: Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, Lee Bontecou, Catherine Opie, Vito Acconci, Glenn Ligon, David Wojnarowicz, Vaginal Davis and Shigeyuki Kihara.
This course addresses issues of installation, participation and spectatorship through a selection of episodes and case studies from the history of modern and contemporary art. It introduces and explores ways by which works of art activate viewers’ immediate physical, sensory or psychical engagement, turning spectatorship into an embodied activity and collapsing the conventional conception of art as simply contemplative. From the post-war artistic experiment with ‘happenings’ to the surge of participatory practices in the globalizing contemporary art world, we will investigate key debates and theoretical discourses about artistic participation, collaboration and action, reconsidering the relationship between the artist, the artwork and the viewing subject. Artists we will look at may include but are not limited to: Allan Kaprow, Robert Morris, Yayoi Kusama, Yoko Ono, Sophie Calle, Santiago Sierra, Félix González-Torres, Cildo Meireles, Thomas Hirschhorn, Francis Alys, Gabriel Orozco and Ai Weiwei.