In the 17th century, the visual arts of Europe continued to be shaped by the political, social and cultural convulsions that had broken out during the Protestant Reformation. This course examines the impact of changing religious practices, concerns and controversies in early modern Europe, with a focus on the second half of the 16th Century and the first half of the 17th. We will examine the phenomenon of iconoclasm, and the emergence of religious images that responded to specifically Protestant concerns. South of the Alps and Pyrenees, we will look at the concerns surrounding the sacred image in Catholic societies as its religious functions became increasingly hard to reconcile with its artistic qualities, at the impact of the Catholic Reformation, censorship, mystic visions, naturalism, and the development of the Baroque style. Artists covered include Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Annibale Carracci, Rubens and Bernini.
This course examines artistic interactions between western and non-western cultures brought on by scientific exploration, diplomacy and war, imperialism, and trade in the period 1750-1900. We study various ways in which European and American artists responded to the cultures they encountered elsewhere in the world, as well as how non-westerners responded to the west. Emphasis is placed on the diverse processes of cultural interaction and their impact on the development of modernity in different cultural contexts. Major non-western regions to be studied might include China, Japan, India, the Near East, and elsewhere.
This course will introduce Hong Kong art and related aspects of Hong Kong visual culture. It will be taught in a workshop format, and will provide the opportunity for students to develop skills in art criticism as well as an understanding of Hong Kong art history.
This course will examine the relationship between image-making and cultural encounters at regional and trans-national levels, and the role of visual artefacts in the making of real and imaginative geographies. The module will begin with 16th century Jesuit missionaries propagating their “universal history” with, amongst many things, world maps, and end with an investigation of modern Chinese artists’ visions of an “East” in the global context. Themes will be organized into two or three week classes, which are designed to stimulate students into making comparisons and parallels. In each instance, connections, commonalities, and differences are examined as patterns within East Asia, and between Japan and China.
From the dawn of Buddhism to the present day, art and visual culture have played a central role in how India is imagined both within the country and beyond. The visual landscape of India is punctuated by the iconic images of gods and goddesses, the architectural expressions of Islam, and the legacy of the colonial rule. Through an interdisciplinary but historically rooted approach, this course addresses Buddhist and Hindu art, the art patronage of both Mughal and sub-imperial courts and will conclude with a discussion of artistic practice under colonial rule through to India’s independence in 1947.
This course will explore the artistic productions of medieval and Renaissance Europe that sought to recreate the physical environment of the Christian Holy Land. Media to be considered include architectural replicas, illustrated manuscripts, mural paintings, sculptural installations, and printed books. We will examine recent scholarship on these topics, and how they relate to broader theories of replication, virtuality, and hyperreality in visual culture.
Endowed with holy relics and forming the primary locus of the Christian mass, the altar occupied the center of the lavish architectural and visual programs that comprised medieval church buildings from the fourth century onward. Whereas triumphal arches, covered with mosaic images, had framed the space of the altar in Early Christian basilicas, and free-standing cult statues and reliquaries had come to personalize altars in twelfth-century pilgrimage churches, the end of the thirteenth century witnessed the rise of what would become the dominant field of ritual spectacle and artistic innovation in the Renaissance: the altarpiece. Painted, sculpted, or both; often outfitted with multiple hinged panels that could be opened and closed; supported by predellas that housed relics; and, in turn, bearing delicate micro-architectural armatures that surged toward the heavens, late medieval altarpieces were multimedia installations meant to provide a suitably splendid backdrop for the Eucharistic liturgy and to convey sacred truths to large congregations. They also became the testing ground for master craftsmen – woodcarvers, painters, and carpenters – who transformed their religious commissions into dazzling displays of technical virtuosity.
Issues of sexuality, subjectivity, gender, and domesticity have been central to women making art since the 1960s. In response to the urgent need for reconsidering women’s contribution to the constitution and representation of sociocultural and geopolitical realities within the international art world beyond Euro-American centers this module grounds the historical discussion of these concepts in a broader global context. The first half of the course reviews key issues and debates in western feminist art movements between the 1960s and 1980s. The inclusion of case studies on the works of women artists, including Mona Hatoum, Nikki S. Lee, Yin Xiuzhen, Shen Yuan, and ON Megumi Akiyoshi in the second half of the course aims at introducing new artistic contents, and alternative cultural formats and theoretical paradigms to the on-going construction of a feminist history of art within the increasingly interconnected, yet unevenly developed globalizing contemporary society.
This course examines art and architecture produced by and for Europeans in the context of the early-modern exploration and colonisation that brought European peoples into closer contact with a broader range of cultures than they had previously known. Beginning in the 15th century and continuing into the 18th, the processes of trade, religious conversion, scientific study, mass enslavement, conquest, and settlement that ensued established some of the foundations of the modern world; not least because of the new forms of visual representation Europeans adopted to better comprehend (and exploit) their expanding world. This course covers a broad range of objects relating to Europe and the Mediterranean, North America and Asia which exemplify the role of the visual arts in the social and intellectual transformations that accompanied colonialism, including paintings, sculptures, prints, maps, buildings, city plans, collections, fountains and gardens. Topics covered include the changing representation of cultural, gender, ethnic, and racial identity; new concepts of savagery and civilisation; the rise of colonial cities; the spread of Christianity; diplomacy across cultures; and scientific ‘curiosity’ and natural history.
Eighteenth century Edo (now known as Tokyo) was the world’s largest city. It was the military headquarters of the shoguns, a cosmopolitan city with a vibrant milieu of merchants, samurai, actors, courtesans, craftsmen and artists. By the nineteenth century, it was transformed into Tokyo, the imperial capital with a reformed political infrastructure. This course will focus on the artistic traditions that were transformed and transplanted from Edo into Tokyo. Topics of discussion will include the revival of classical imagery, popular culture during the eighteenth century, the conflicts brought on by the opening of Japan to the West in the nineteenth century, the reconstruction of Tokyo and its artistic practices after the World War Two, and the impact of Japanese architecture, design and popular culture over the past twenty years.
The eminent art historian Erwin Panofsky once asserted that, “in Spain, anything is possible.” He meant this to signify that Spanish art is an art apart, following its own rules. Artistic production from the Iberian Peninsula has alternately been regarded as derivative, borrowing or copying from other European currents, or conceptualized as something completely its own. During this course, students will examine Spanish art from a range of cultural and temporal contexts across the country’s history – Visigothic, Islamic, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Modern – while maintaining an ongoing critical discourse on the particularities of Spain and questioning whether we can speak of trends consistent to the Spanish experience.
The medieval imagination produced some of the most tender images of Western art as well as the most grotesque. Images of a sainted mother cradling her child existed within the same milieu, if not the same artistic program, as those of a monstrous Hellmouth. This course examines the imaginative, playful, frightening, and sometimes contradictory art and architecture of the Romanesque and Gothic periods in Western Europe, from around the year 1000 to 1500. We will consider and discuss a number of issues relevant across art history—such as the role of the artist, theories of vision and color, marginal art, materiality, and cross-cultural interaction—within a medieval context.
This course explores Buddhism and its art from ancient times to the present. Rather than portraying Buddhist art as a timeless ideal, the class deploys case studies to foreground the dynamics of its development. In particular, it examines how styles, iconographies, and media have been purposefully selected and reconfigured in varying contexts across and beyond Asia. The class also explores contemporary art inspired by Buddhist concepts, and the role of collecting and curatorial practices in shaping the interpretation of Buddhist artifacts.
Art and law (Art + Law) is distinct from the practice of art law. While the latter occupies the field of art business, the former considers how art and law might be mutual endeavors, one informing the other. This class focuses on the former, considering how artists have provoked, represented, wielded, refined, tested, expanded, and unconventionally complied with private and public law. This intersection of art and law invites questions: Who or what authorizes or bestows the label of art? What is the basis for this authority and how are artworks influenced by, and/or function in opposition to, such authorizing forces? Can and how has the law been represented in art? How have artworks and artists disrupted legal regimes through civil disobedience (the breaking of a law); and how has dissent been expressed through uncivil obedience (the following of a law in a hyperbolic, literalistic, and unanticipated manner)? Although global in outlook, the cases under discussion are largely (although certainly not exclusively) Western in focus. Yet, the topics considered in this class might be applied to any number of geographic and cultural arenas. This course is not a history of art law, and neither is it a history of art symbolically looking at law; rather, this class examines the mutually influencing spheres wherein art activates, images, provokes, interacts with, and even interferes with the law.