Art History Courses
If you are having difficulties registering for a course, please contact either our Student Services Coordinator, Yulianna Aparicio, the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Art History, Eduardo Douglas, or the Director of Graduate Studies for Art History, Victoria Rovine.
ARTH 950: The Bauhaus: Art and Architecture in Interwar Germany, 1919-1933
In Weimar in 1919, the architect Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus, a school for architecture, design, and the fine arts with an interdisciplinary orientation. The aims of the school were announced in its program: “The Bauhaus strives to bring together all types of artistic creation into a unity, strives for the reunification of all artistic disciplines—sculpture, painting, the applied arts and handicraft—as inseparable components of a new art of building.”
Although the Bauhaus existed for only fourteen years, it represents Germany’s most internationally successful contribution to the art and culture of modernity. Under directors Walter Gropius, Hannes Meyer, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, an outstanding faculty composed of artists and architects was brought together at the school. Its member developed a praxis-oriented workshop concept, propagating a timeless aesthetic and a world design language. They explored and tested new procedures and materials in architecture and design, also collaborating with industry. Instructors and students joined forces to make the Bauhaus a workshop of modernism, one whose radically novel vision retains its relevance up to the present day.
The 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus this year is a good reason to have a new view on this most influential design movement of the modern age: What is myth, what is reality? The intention is not only to explore the development of the important aesthetic and social movement in the broader cultural context of Germany in the few years between the end of World War I and the National Socialists’ seizure of power in 1933 but also to have a closer look at the reformatory movements before 1914 as important predecessors and foundations, too often neglected in the discussion about the Bauhaus.
ARTH 957: Creativity, Classification, Resistance: Art and Colonial Histories
This seminar explores the uses of visual culture as a tool for domination, documentation, and resistance in modern colonial empires (late 19th to mid-20th centuries). Our focus will be on European dominion in Africa, and we will also seek out case studies from other colonial settings to enrich our thematic analyses.
Colonial settings throw into relief the power of visual representation to define and distort cultural difference in order to reinforce power structures. Colonized subjects may also make use of visual culture to push back against these structures, whether by adopting their visual language or by harnessing longstanding local forms to new ends. We will explore the role of visual media in the popular propaganda by which the glories and benefits of empire were presented to European audiences, and to the developing science of ethnography that was ostensibly providing objective documentation of these outposts of empire. Throughout this period, the Western canon of art history was shifting to absorb and appropriate selected forms from Africa and other colonized regions; we will address how our discipline’s history intersects with colonial empires, a history whose consequences reach into contemporary debates on repatriation of museum collections. In addition, we will explore the work of studio artists from Africa who address colonial histories and their aftermath.
Seminar themes and topics will include:
- Bodies: nakedness, nudity, and the complications of dress
- The “science” of man: visual cultures of early anthropological research
- Pith helmets and guns: African artists’ depictions (and subversion) of colonial people and technologies
- Expositions and artisans: celebrating the colonies in Europe
- Art schools and changing markets: absorbing and adapting European artistic media
- Reinvented traditions: the heightened meanings of longstanding forms in colonial contexts
- Visual cultures of independence: nation-building through art and architecture