Art and Art History 198. Experimental Courses
Introduction to the Early Art and Architecture of the Western World: From Caves to Cathedrals
This is an introductory course designed for students who seek a survey of Western art and architecture from prehistoric to the early-15th century and who wish to acquire an understanding of critical approaches to visual culture. This course approaches the art of Western visual culture from interdisciplinary and multi-theoretical perspectives and advances the notion that the study of art history will ultimately help students navigate the intensely visual world in which they live.
Lectures focus primarily, though not exclusively, on a single work chosen as a paradigm of its particular period, style, or regional school. Although chronological in its development, this class engages with thematic ideas that will recur throughout the semester. This course begins with the art produced in preliterate, prehistoric cultures to show how important the study of art history is to the understanding of the earliest forms of human expression. Moving on to ancient Eygpt will encourage students to engage critically with concepts of “Non-Western”/”Western” and directly with the phenomenal collection of Egyptian Art at the MFA. Greek and Roman Art, and the extraordinary artistic legacy they bring, are next discussed. Here buildings and images expressing power are examined alongside artistic forms created by those politically and socially marginalized. The thousand years of medieval art will complete the students’ journey through the early art and architecture of the Western World by beginning with the question, “How does one image one’s God?”. As perhaps the least familiar, and thus misunderstood, period covered in this course, the art of the so-called “Middle Ages” will be studied for its complexity and richness, along with its panoply of monsters, devils and imagined ‘others’.
Introduction to American Art
An introduction to American art and architecture from the colonial period through mid twentieth century, this course considers the role that visual culture has played in the formation of national identity. Students will examine individual case studies to understand how artists negotiated the rise of urban culture, war, industrial prosperity, and the changing politics of race and gender.