Art History 227: The Ends of Modernism
Prof. Michael J. McClure

This survey considers the end of Modernist art as it gives way to what is called, problematically, contemporary art. While the term modern may generally mean what is vanguard or current, Modernism indicates a period of art (and the humanities) ranging from, arguably, 1880-1950.  By considering its end, one can study four pivotal aspects of the movement: its origins, themes, and afterlives, as well as the art and histories that challenge its coherence. In this thematic survey, then, Modernism will emerge as a heterogeneous set of images and attendant discourses which, negatively or positively, continue to work within the contemporary artistic and cultural moment.

Art History 360: Early Modern Art of Northern Europe: Renaissances and Reformations
Prof. Shira Brisman

This course critically reexamines concepts traditionally associated with the Renaissance by focusing on the exchange of artistic ideas throughout the Holy Roman Empire and across different media, such as altarpiece paintings, carved portraits, stained glass narratives, innovative uses of print, reappropriations of metalwork, and expressive uses of drawing. The course is organized thematically around four topics: religious art as piety and politics; antiquity as a source of tradition and imagination; the formulation of a public discourse that exposed social threats; and the distinctiveness of artistic claims of individual achievement. A motif throughout the course is the question of how the survival of fragments may be presented in museum contexts as parts standing in for an absent whole. We will also consider how historians approach designs for works of art now lost or never completed. Assignments focus on objects from the Chazen Museum and the Special Collections of Memorial Library.

Art History 411: Professor Yuhang Li
Topics in Asian Art: Modern and Contemporary Chinese Art, Tuesday/Thursday 1:00-2:15

In the beginning of this century, China plays a crucial role in the international art world. But what does it mean to be a Chinese artist in the modern age? How did Chinese art become what it is today? What were the politics and other forces surrounding the formation of modern Chinese art? (How) can art affect radical social change? Rather than just being shaped by social and political forces, how do artists attempt to intervene in social life and attempt to change its course of development?

This course will trace the evolution of modern Chinese art chronologically and thematically from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Major themes include the tension between modernity and tradition, Westernization, global cosmopolitanism and cultural nationalism, the establishment of new institutions for art, the relationship between cultural production and politics, gender identity, Chinese art and global market. We will focus on a variety of artistic media, including ink painting, oil painting, photography, print, sculpture, architecture, multimedia installations, video and performance art.


Art History 412
Topics in African & African Diaspora Art History: Contemporary Arts Of The African Diaspora: Europe And Beyond. Professor Faisal Abdu'allah, Tuesday/Thursday 11:00-12:15

These lecture/discussions serve as an introduction to the post World War II art and artists of the African Diaspora, exploring how the artists have developed a global practice.

After World War II, many artists came together from the newly formed Commonwealth. In the 1960s - the Indian Painters Collective and the Caribbean Artist Movement was formed and produced the artists – Ronald Moody, F N Souza and Avinash Chandra. However their inclusion into the wider frame of contemporary art was exacerbated by their ethnic and cultural difference.

Is displacement a model for the new avant-garde in the 21st century? Is the content of their work, often described as political, merely an act of will and imagination?
We will focus on the following: 1960s, the threshold of new social demands; The 70s- Conceptualism about the art object and experimentation of blackness; the 80s- Revival of painting, photorealism and post-conceptual painting; and the 1990s and beyond with the consolidation, strategic interventions and creation of novel pathways that artists have adapted in the diaspora.
Requires Junior standing & Afro-Amer 241 or 243 or cons inst. Alt Yrs; 3 cr (H-A).

Art History 413: Art & Architecture in the Age of the Caliphs.
Professor Jennifer Pruitt, Tuesday/Thursday 1:00-2:15

Art, religious identity, and political legitimacy of the Islamic caliphs. Themes include sectarianism; incorporation of Christian and Jewish culture; courtly-urban relations; and the caliphate in modern visual culture.

Course Description: The tenth century CE marked a period of drastic change in the Islamic world, as the unified Islamic caliphate splintered into three rival dynasties: the Sunni Iraqi Abbasids, Spanish Umayyads, and the Shi'ite Fatimids in Egypt. In their quest to dominate the Islamic world and control the Mediterranean, each dynasty openly competed and responded to the others in architectural projects, ceremonial practices and courtly arts. At the same time, the monolithic model of courtly patronage of the arts was replaced gradually by one in which the urban classes increasingly shaped the art market, resulting in new visual forms.

This course considers this turning point in the history of Islamic culture through the lens of art and architectural patronage. By exploring the architectural and urban projects of the three dynasties, we will examine competing visions of power, sources of legitimacy and the development of Cairo, Baghdad/Samarra and Cordoba as capital cities. We will also consider the role of portable arts, addressing the role of exchange and gift-giving in the Mediterranean context and the problems of attribution in this highly mobile environment. Course themes include the role of sectarian identity (Shi'ite vs Sunni); the incorporation of Christian and Jewish culture; the relation between the court and urban populations; and the meaning of ornament and style in Islamic art.

Contemporary interpretation of caliphal visual culture will also be examined.


Art History 800: Special Topics in Art History (Seminar): Propaganda & Protest:
Art & Idealogy in Conflict Zones Dr. Amanda Rogers, Wednesdays 4:00-6:00

"Art," in the popular consciousness, evokes notions of an educated, museum-­going audience, or the market-­based collecting practices of elite connoisseurs. The artist, according to conventional narratives of contemporary Western art history, is imagined as eccentric genius, detached from the social order. But beyond this bounded cultural context, what might a critical reappraisal of the analytical categories "art" and "artist" offer for contextualizing political conflict? Over the past decade, arguments for the ostensibly "healing" potential of artistic engagement have entered political discourse, informing both domestic and foreign public policy, as well as underpinning novel approaches to strategic diplomacy. 

Recent experimentations in Saudi Arabia, for example, involve the inclusion of "art therapy" as a central component of de-­radicalization and rehabilitation for incarcerated populations. What are the stakes for cultural producers as states move closer towards cooptation of expressive production within official programs of political ideology? Across the spectrum of governmental systems, artists, musicians and intellectuals are often the first victims of violence—as well as the initial catalysts for reform—at times of political instability. At what point does "art" give way to conventional propaganda? How have new technologies blurred the delineation between the two (if—in fact—such a clear demarcation ever existed)?

This course takes up, as key focus, zones of conflict throughout the broad, globalized arena termed the "Islamic world." We will examine the politicized cultural field, including nation branding, media campaigns, propaganda production, and artistic "dialogue," across a range of societies in turmoil (whether embroiled in transnational unrest, or civil war)—as well as foreign policy engagement strategies utilized by the United States and Europe. Case studies include Cold War alliances, Chechnya, Syria’s civil war, Palestine/Israel, the Iran-­Iraq war, Morocco and the Western Sahara, Kashmir, French Algeria, Bahrain, as well as the United States’ global "War on Terror."