Great Introductory Course Offerings
2015 – 2016 Course Offerings
Art History 224: Introduction to Ancient Art
This course offers an introduction to the major artistic monuments of the ancient cultures of the regions known as Mesopotamia, Iran, Egypt, Greece, and the Roman Empire. We investigate a wide range of artistic traditions, styles, and types of artifacts, and our limited time together necessitates a focus on the highlights—by traditional consensus—of the art and architecture of these cultures. A primary objective is to present the key monuments that have influenced Western art over the centuries, along with skills in visual literacy and a basic understanding of the methods and aims of art historical study. Another goal is to provide insight into the specific historical contexts in which buildings, sculptures, and paintings were produced and the particular political, social, and religious functions they served. To provide exposure to a wide variety of material within a critical framework, we will examine specific case studies supplementing the textbook readings.
Art History 250: Introduction to European Art
This course studies major works of European art produced in what are conventionally called the “Renaissance” and “Baroque” eras (and/or the “early modern era). Our geographic focus is Italy and the north—Germany and the Netherlands—with some side trips to France and Spain, as time allows. This course is intended as an introduction. In order to maximize its relevance for those of you who may not (in spite of everything I do to convince you otherwise…) major or minor in Art History but who will continue to encounter, analyze, or even produce images and works of art throughout your lives, we will focus as much on the historical data relevant to European art and artists active between 1400-1700 as on themes relevant to art history and the practice of art making more generally. Our themes include: Naturalism; Materials and Media; Perspective; The Period Eye; Iconography; Religion; Popular Culture; The Representation of Women; Art and Science; The Cult of the Artist; Global Encounters.
Some of the central questions we will address include: What did it take and what did it mean to produce a painting--or to work in such other media as fresco, engraving, drawing, sculpture, and architecture in Europe during the early modern period? What and how do such works convey meaning and in what ways have they remained significant over the course of the intervening centuries? What is the relationship between art and society? Students may expect to become familiar with works by artists such as Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarotti; Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and Gianlorenzo Bernini and Diego Velázquez; Martin Schongauer, Albrecht Dürer; Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Johannes Vermeer—among others.
No prior art history coursework is required.
AH 255: Introduction to Modernism
This course introduces the concept of modernism in art. The historical period we call modernity -- defined by industrialization, urbanization, colonization, the rise of mass commodity culture, mass spectacle and technology, revolution and mass war, as well as the emergence of the art market as we know it today – has been called both a dreamworld and a catastrophe. Modernist art was its harbinger and spokesperson, optimistically mimicking the new forms of modernity’s mass visual culture or, more commonly, reworking or rejecting those forms in a critical commentary on both society and the artistic conventions that upheld its inequities. Proceeding from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, primarily in Europe, we will examine the key modernist “isms”: Impressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Suprematism, Constructivism, Purism and Socialist Realism, as well as the rise of abstraction culminating in Abstract Expressionism.
ART_HIST 240: Introduction to Asian Art
This course is a selective introduction to the artistic heritage of Asia, here broadly defined to include both the Indian subcontinent and East Asia (China, Korea, and Japan). We are primarily interested in how artists in each culture respond to the tasks of representing the other-/underworld—realms of gods, ghosts and “goblins”—on the one hand, the world of nature through painting and landscape design. Some of the questions we will address include: What are the conventions and limits of representing deities in art? How do artifacts and buildings that were fashioned from stone, timber, or paint solicit such devotion that their audiences could treat them as if they were immaterial? How do we understand different notions of naturalism in painting? Is faithfulness to what the eye can see the only measure of pictorial truth? Throughout this course, we will also consider the relationship between collecting and art history, how it gave rise to the practice of connoisseurship first as an avocation and later as a profession, how art collecting shaped and was shaped by changing notions of “Asia,” and the challenges of studying artifacts that have been removed from their original contexts.
Art History 235: Introduction to Latin American Art
This course surveys art and especially architecture across Latin America from the sixteenth to early twentieth centuries. From Mexico to Peru and from the Caribbean to the Río de la Plata, we explore buildings and works of art in a variety of media as expressions of a complex society that emerged in the Americas as a result of contact and conquest after 1492. Along the way, we will encounter artists whose names have been forgotten by history as well as known figures such as Guaman Poma de Ayala, Cristóbal de Villalpando, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo. The course will make use of art collections in the Chicago area for introductory-level research projects.