Courses

Explore the undergraduate course offerings in art history, including cross-listed classes and college core classes offered by art history faculty. Much of the coursework offered by art history faculty encourages direct engagement with art historical sources and original works of art, taking advantage of the resources of the Smart Museum and other art institutions in Chicago and beyond. Part of the Rhoades Exchange Program, the annual Rhoades Seminar is taught by a curator at the Art Institute. The Suzanne Deal Booth Conservation Seminars are offered by a conservator or conservation scientist based at the Art Institute. Gold-Gorvy Traveling Seminars involve class travel to work with objects, buildings, and sites first hand.

Undergraduate courses are numbered 10000-29999. 100-level courses satisfy Arts Core requirements, while 200-level courses fulfill major and minor requirements.  Courses of study should be developed after consulting the catalog for required classes and conferring with the advisor and/or Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Undergraduate Courses

10100
Introduction to Art

This course develops skills in perception, comprehension, and evaluation of various art objects. It encourages close analysis of visual materials, exploring the range of questions and methods appropriate to works of art, in their historical, theoretical, and social dimensions. Most importantly, the course emphasizes articulate writing and salient argumentation about visual and other aesthetic phenomena. Three coherent units, on Monument/Site, Image/Medium, and Object/Museum, explore these issues across cultures and periods. Examples draw on original objects in campus collections.

2020-2021
Winter

14006
Introduction to Byzantine Art

In this course we will explore works of art and architecture as primary sources on the civilization of Byzantium. Through the close investigation of artifacts of different media and techniques, students will gain insight into the artistic production of the Byzantine Empire from its beginnings in the fourth century C.E. to the Ottoman conquest in 1453. We will employ different methodological approaches and scholarly resources that are relevant for the fruitful investigation of artifacts in their respective cultural setting. In order to fully assess the pivotal importance of the visual arts in Byzantine culture, we will address a wide array of topics, including art and ritual, patronage, the interrelation of art and text, the classical heritage, art and theology, Iconoclasm, etc. For nonmajors, this course meets the arts, music, drama general education requirements.

2020-2021
Winter

15800
Contemporary Art

(
ARTV 20006
)

This course will consider the practice and theory of visual art in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Among the subjects that will drive our narrative will be the rise of postmodernism, pop art, the aesthetics of the social movements of the 1960s, institutional critique, the relationship between reproductive media and Feminism, the concept of spectacle, conceptual art, the appearance of a global art industry after 1989, the connections between art school and art-making, “relational aesthetics,” the fate of art in the age of the Internet, the art of the post-studio moment, and what happens to art when it engages with *everything*.

2020-2021
Spring

16010
Mesoamerican Architecture

This course will examine the range of architectural expression in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize from 1500 BCE to 1600 CE. Using a relatively simple vocabulary of elements (house, pyramid, plaza, ballcourt, and road), each Mesoamerican city constructed a distinctive visual identity, exquisitely attuned to the surrounding environment. Moving city by city over time, we will look closely at individual buildings as well as the spatial relationships between structures. At the end of this course, students will have honed their ability to analyze architectural space and its representations, and to write cogently about what they see.

2020-2021
Autumn

16100
Art of the East: China

This course is an introduction to the arts of China focusing on the bronze vessels of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the Chinese appropriation of the Buddha image, and the evolution of landscape and figure painting traditions. This course considers objects in contexts (from the archaeological sites from which they were unearthed to the material culture that surrounded them) to reconstruct the functions and the meanings of objects, and to better understand Chinese culture through the objects it produced.

2020-2021
Winter

16213
Andean Art and Architecture

The civilizations of ancient Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador challenge many of our assumptions about the nature of art and society.  In this course, we will study traditional Andean forms of art, such as textiles and landscape modification, as well as more familiar media, such as architecture and sculpture, from the beginnings of civilization to the end of the colonial era.  Focusing on the art of the Chavín, Nazca, Moche, Tiwanaku, and Inca civilizations, as well as the encounter with Spanish colonialism, we will consider the interplay between naturalism and abstraction, imperial control and regional diversity, and the challenges of the Andean environment. In the final sessions, we will explore how the Inca past was remembered and represented in later Peruvian art.

2020-2021
Spring

16460
Modern Latin American Art

(
LACS 16460
)

This course offers an introductory survey of the art of modern Latin America from the first wave of independence in early nineteenth century to the present day. Through the study of key artists, movements, and works of art, we will attend to a set of central problems: the formation of collective identities in these new nations, the impact of revolution, dictatorship, and political violence on the development of art in the region, the incorporation of both foreign styles and indigenous traditions, and the shifting definitions of Latin American art. Special emphasis will be placed on developing the skills needed to analyze a wide variety of modern and contemporary art, including painting, sculpture, photography, performance art, and site-specific installations.

2020-2021
Winter

17002
Drawing and the Making of Architecture

This course focuses on the practice of drawing in the making of architecture. It explores the act of tracing lines on a surface as the foundation of design, a word that evokes through its own origins the very moment of architectural invention. As the most direct expression of the architect's ideas and an operative form of 'non-verbal thinking,' the physical response of the hand to media contributes crucially to the creative process. This studio course will offer an unmediated encounter with drawing techniques: we will test different supports-from parchment to screen, end especially paper-and different tools-natural chalks, antique and modern inks, industrial pencils, as well as keyboards and tablets-in order to understand the interaction, throughout history, between materials and design practice. Parallel to this, we will discuss a wide range of readings critically, thus reconstructing the evolving theory of representation in architectural writings and the relevance of graphic expression to both theorists and practitioners. Ultimately, the course will allow students to penetrate norms and conventions of technical drawing and to understand a primary tool in the production of architecture from the point of view of its makers.

2020-2021
Autumn

17180
Art and The Visual Culture of Medicine

This seminar charts a broad range of visual and cultural practices supported by the rich engagement between art and medicine. Focusing on the “age of curiosity” through the professionalization of medicine over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, we explore art’s instrumental use by medical communities and vice versa. As an example of this, we look to artifacts produced to model knowledge, including specimens of physical anomalies, anatomical atlases, and écorchés, and to celebrate medical achievements, notably through portraits of physicians. In addition to asking what standards of utility determined the production of visual culture in medical contexts, we consider how medical practices became deeply embedded within the history of art. From the use of anatomical models in artistic training to portraits of the dead and dying to representations of the ill, artists looked to medical imaging and maladies as source material for their work. As part of this curriculum, students will be assigned texts that are foundational to humanistic scholarship. These include Sigmund Freud’s conception of the uncanny and Julia Kristeva’s theory of abjection, to Michel Foucault’s analysis of the “medical gaze.”

2020-2021
Autumn

17520
Venetian Renaissance Art: Bellini, Giorgione, Titian

This course is an introduction to the visual arts through the study of the distinctive version of the Renaissance in Venice. We concentrate on three major figures of European art Bellini, Giorgione and Titian with the aim of learning how to analyze and interpret different individual styles while also exploring the commonalties of Venetian culture and society that are reflected in their art. In the process we will devote attention to the character of Venice’s water borne topography and the implications for its art, urbanism and architecture as well, unfortunately, for its precarious existence in a world of rising seas. The attempt to characterize Venice’s difference, including art’s emphasis on light, color and touch, will require us to be aware of its complex interaction with contemporary Tusco-Roman art and its major practitioners such as Leonardo and Michelangelo. Through the particular art-historical material studied, the course will take seriously the attempt to introduce students with little or no background in art or art history to some of the major avenues for interpretation in this field, including formal, stylistic, iconographical, psychological, social, feminist, theoretical and reception. Readings are chosen with this diversity of approach in mind.

2020-2021
Spring

17610
Modernism

This course explores the development of European and American modernism by concentrating on examples in local collections, especially the Smart Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago. The modernist era, from roughly 1860 to 1960, brought dramatic changes in the conception and making of art. We will analyze these by attending to the media of painting, sculpture, and printmaking. The class will meet frequently at the Art Institute, and students will need to be able to arrive at the museum in time for classes beginning there at 3:30 p.m.

2020-2021
Winter

17612
The Art of Michelangelo

(
FNDL 21411
)

The central focus of this course will be Michelangelo’s prolific production in sculpture, painting and architecture while making substantial use of his writings, both poetry and letters, and his extensive extant body of preparatory drawings to help us understand more about his artistic personality, creative processes, theories of art, and his intellectual and spiritual biography, including his changing attitudes towards Neoplatonism, Christianity and politics. Our structure will be roughly chronological starting with his highly precocious juvenilia of the 1490s in Florence at the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent through his death in Rome in 1564 as an old man who was simultaneously already the deity of art and a lonely, troubled, repentant Christian, producing some of his most moving works in a highly personal style. Beyond close examination of the works themselves, among the themes that will receive considerable attention for the ways they bear upon his art are Michelangelo’s fraught relationship with patrons such as the Medici and a succession of popes; his complex devotion to and rivalry with ancient classical art and his living rivalries with Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Bramante and others; his changing attitude towards religion, especially his engagement with the Catholic Reform and some of its key personalities such as Vittoria Colonna; his sexuality and how it might bear on the representation of gender in his art and poetry; his “official” biographies created by the devotees Giorgio Vasari (1550, 1568) and Ascanio Condivii (1553) during Michelangelo’s lifetime and some of the most influential moments in the artist’s complex, sometimes ambivalent, reception over the centuries; new approaches and ideas about Michelangelo that have emerged in recent decades from the unabated torrent of scholarship and, especially, the restoration and scientific imaging of many of his works. Through the concentrated art-historical material studied, the course will take seriously the attempt to introduce students with little or no background in art or art history to some of the major avenues for interpretation in this field, including formal, stylistic, iconographical, psychological, social, feminist, theoretical and reception. Readings are chosen with this diversity of approach in mind.

2020-2021
Autumn

17704
Art Meets Philosophy

(
ARTV 17704
)

The great German Romantic poet and critic Friedrich Schlegel once famously noted that “one of two things is usually lacking in the so-called Philosophy of Art: either philosophy or art.” In this course, we are looking to prove Schlegel wrong by mapping out the very fruitful history of the relationship between (“western”) art and (“western”) philosophy instead, beginning in the poet’s own early 19th-century Germany and concluding in the contemporary debates surrounding the rising influence of artificial intelligence on the making and exhibiting of art. We will be looking at artists and artworks– and not only in the classroom, but also in museums and artist’s studios – in the framework of, and illuminating, contemporaneous philosophical discourse, and reading a variety of texts that help to shed light on the circumstances of certain artistic developments’ conception in turn. Think Hegel and Caspar David Friedrich; Nietzsche and Ferdinand Hodler; Heidegger and Van Gogh or Paul Klee; Derrida and Daniel Buren’s “institutional critique”; Agamben and Steve McQueen. (The historical emphasis will rest on post-war art and philosophy.) Our bibliography will focus primarily on the continental tradition in philosophy; writing assignments will depart from a direct experience of seeing and handling art. A final project will propose a physical synthesis of the rivaling siblings of art and philosophy.

2020-2021
Winter

17905
The Museum Today

The news is full of museums overhauling their collections, installations, and operations. The Baltimore Museum of Art pledged to buy only work by women artists in 2020. The Museum of Modern Art’s 2019 redesign interrupts familiar chronologies with surprise conceptual encounters. The Minnesota Institute of Art recently launched a Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts. Through a series of case studies, this course examines how and why museums are radically rethinking their practices. What problems do they seek to redress? Who do the solutions aim to serve, and to what end? This course ultimately asks students to debate the role of the museum in the 21st century by way of course readings drawn from theory, scholarship, and the popular press; class discussions complimented by visits from guest scholars, artists, and curators; and occasional trips to Chicago museums.

2020-2021
Spring

18000
Photography and Film

This is a core course that serves as an introduction to the history of art by concentrating on some fundamental issues in the history of photography and film. The course is divided roughly in half between still photography and film. The central theme of the course concerns the way in which photographs and films have been understood and valued during the past 165 years. There have been profound changes in attitudes and beliefs regarding the nature of photographs throughout the history of photography (this is likewise true of film). The current range of views is very different from those held by the various audiences for photographs and films in the last century and the century before. For instance, photographs were originally conceived of as copies of things that can be seen, but the notion of copy was drawn from a long-established set of views about what makes a picture a work of art and copies were said to be incapable of being works of art. This view continues to haunt the writings of some critics and historians of photography and film. The course will concentrate on the work of photographers, theorists of photography and film, and on films by John Huston, Billy Wilder, and Roman Polanski.

2020-2021
Autumn

18305
Art in Context: New Art in Chicago Museums

PQ: Permission of instructor required for registration. This course frequently meets off campus; students should plan their schedules accordingly to account for travel.

Through very regular, required site visits to museums, galleries, and experimental spaces in the greater Chicago area, this course introduces students to the close consideration—in situ—of works of art created in and for our time, as well as to pertinent modes of critical and historical inquiry. Sites visited can include our own Smart Museum of Art, the Hyde Park Art Center, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and private collections and galleries. Enrollment strictly limited to 12 with instructor consent required.

2020-2021
Spring

18803
Woodblock Prints of Japan

Despite the availability of moveable type, woodblock printing—in which each printed sheet was produced by an intricately hand-carved block—was the main reproductive technology in Japan from roughly 1600 to 1870 for both texts and images. In these years, Japan's high literacy rates and booming urban publishing industry supported an array of fascinating illustrated books and prints—from theater ephemera and guidebooks to "art" prints, landscape series, and supernatural tales—that offer interesting points of comparison with early modern printing in the West. This course will consider Japanese woodblock prints as artistic and social objects during the 17th through 19th centuries. We will discuss style and technique, class and gender representations, the world of the pleasure quarters, illustrated plays and fiction, urban growth and travel, censorship, and the supernatural.

2020-2021
Spring

20212
/
30212
A Cultural History of Modern and Contemporary Korean Art

This course explores the development of modern and contemporary art in Korea from the 20th century to today. In parallel with political, economic, and social changes that defined the nation’s identity, Korean art also experienced fundamental shifts and expansion. With a particular concern for the sociopolitical landscapes around artistic productions, this course introduces the main developments and cultural trends in the arts, drawing upon a wide array of media, from traditional paintings and sculptures to more recent media such as video, performance, photography, and new media art. We will familiarize ourselves with the most crucial artists and their practices, focusing on key events that shaped the history of Korea and its art such as the Japanese colonial era, the Korean War, the national division, struggles against dictatorship, democratization, and globalization. Students will also learn how to look at, think about, and engage in critical discussion of the visual arts.

2020-2021
Autumn

20700
/
30700
Understanding the Built Environment

(
ARCH 20000
)

This thematic course aims to equip students with the basic skills and knowledge required to analyze architecture and the urban environment. It provides an introduction to the methods and procedures of the architectural historian. These include such practical tasks as understanding architectural terminology, reading and interpreting architectural drawings, engaging with buildings “on site”, and studying buildings in urban context, relative to surrounding buildings, street networks and public spaces. At a broader level, the course will entail critical discussion about the relationship between architecture and society, the building as a historically specific object that also changes over time, the cultural representation of architecture, and modes of perceiving/experiencing the built environment. The format is a discussion seminar based on readings, assignments, virtual visits and meetings with guest speakers. Although it is designed to introduce the fundamentals of architectural history to undergraduates seeking a minor in architectural studies, MA and PhD students in any field are also welcome to register. 

2020-2021
Autumn

21314
/
31314
Fluxus and the Question of Media

The course investigates the international Fluxus network of the 1960’s and 70’s from a perspective on the relationship between art, media and technology. Often identified with the concept of “intermedia” launched in a 1966 text by artist, writer and publisher Dick Higgins, Fluxus artists seemed at pain to distinguish their work from the multimedia or gesamtkunstwerk approaches of the Happening artists, seeking instead to formulate a mode of working between or even beyond media. Underpinned by a desire to pass beyond the work of art itself, this was a complex position that had profound implications for their approaches to technologies and practices such as film, video, computing, sound/music, theatre, poetry and image-making. We will try to map the various facets of this position, with particular emphasis on its relation to another central concept in Fluxus: the work as event.

2020-2021
Autumn

23205
/
33205
Visualizing Race in the Renaissance

“Visualizing Race in the Renaissance” examines European material and visual culture from 1400 to 1650.  Organized chronologically, the class will begin by exploring the perception of Jews and Turks in Europe and then consider how Europeans viewed the peoples and cultures from the continents of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.  Through a study of primary and secondary sources and works of art in various media (paintings, sculpture, prints, tapestries), we will address the following questions (among others): How was race represented in the Renaissance? How did an increasingly global world impact art production? How did Europe’s encounter with foreigners contribute to the development of its own identity?  Half of the class meetings will take place at the Newberry Library (60 W. Walton) where we will examine relevant illustrated books and early printed material and begin some preliminary planning for an exhibition on the topic.

2020-2021
Spring

23602
/
33602
Native American Art at The Field Museum: An Anthropological Perspective

This course explores recent forays into collecting and displaying contemporary Native American Art for the Field Museum, a museum of natural history and anthropology. Through site visits and dialogues with Field Museum staff, contemporary Native American artists, and readings, the course introduces students to the potential and problematic of locating, defining, and representing contemporary art within the colonial context of the Field Museum and how collaboration with artists and community members plays a role in shifting the paradigm toward one that centers collaborative curation and is inclusive of the direct voice of artists. Students will have the opportunity to observe the major renovation currently underway of the Native North American Hall and the role that contemporary art will play in deepening understanding of existing collections and contemporary social concerns.

2020-2021
Spring

24190
Imagining Chicago's Common Buildings

This course is an architectural studio based in the common residential buildings of Chicago and the city's built environment. While design projects and architectural skills will be the focus of the course, it will also incorporate readings, a small amount of writing, some social and geographical history, and several explorations around Chicago. The studio will: (1) give students interested in pursuing architecture or the study of cities experience with a studio course and some skills related to architectural thinking, (2) acquaint students intimately with Chicago's common residential buildings and built fabric, and (3) situate all this within a context of social thought about residential architecture, common buildings, housing, and the city. This course is part of the College Course Cluster program: Urban Design.

Consent is required to enroll in this course. Interested students should email the instructor (Luke Joyner, lukejoy@uchicago.edu) to briefly explain their interest and any previous experience with the course topics. Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

2020-2021
Autumn

24194
Projections in the Vivosphere

This studio course invites students to devise new techniques for imaging the vivosphere: the fragile and reactive film of interactions that sustain human and non-human life around the surface of the earth. This critical zone is both a space of inquiry and topic of concern, crossing geophysical and disciplinary boundaries. Although more than the sum of representations, new techniques of imaging are urgently required for the shape and behavior of this frontier to fully enter our collective imagination and policy conversations.

Seminar discussions and hands-on workshops will immerse students in historic and contemporary techniques of drawing as platforms for inquiry and political influence. While students will develop the ability to manipulate the projective geometries that underpin orthographic, perspectival, isometric, anamorphic and cartographic systems of projection, the vivosphere defies these prevailing modes of description. Research in this critical zone struggles to represent its shape, picture interactions across scale, and overcome the dissonance between planetary representations and lived experience, static geometry and dynamic cycles. Students will be invited to devise and attempt novel techniques to overcome these limitations.

2020-2021
Autumn

24196
Second Nature: New Models for the Chicago Park District

The Chicago Park District seems to preserve "first nature" within the metropolitan field. But the motive for establishing this sovereign territory was hardly natural. Today, cultural change raises questions about the significance and operation of this immense network of civic spaces. What opportunities emerge as we rethink them? While this design studio focuses on the development of new model parks for Chicago, it can support students coming from a broad range of disciplines. Texts, seminar discussions, and field trips will complement and nourish the development of architectural proposals.

2020-2021
Spring

24197
Lakefront Kiosk

Students will design kiosks on Chicago’s lakefront, one of the city’s most vibrant public spaces. Historically, the shoreline of Lake Michigan has played a central role in Chicago’s urban identity. In the 1909 “Plan for Chicago” Daniel Burnham proposed to reclaim the entire length of the lakefront as a place of leisure for all inhabitants of the city—an idea realized during the 20th century. The Chicago Park District oversees over forty kiosks that punctuate the shoreline, which during the summer offer food, retail, and recreational services. Although these kiosks are, by necessity, modest in size, these structures are an exciting opportunity to explore creative archi­tectural solutions.

The design studio will identify the lakefront as a new realm of architectural imagination that operates on the scenic threshold of the city and at a more intimate scale. Though a small structure—a work of micro-architecture—a kiosk can reinforce the city’s broader commitment to forward-thinking design. The studio’s chal­lenge is to demonstrate how small-scale architectural design can transform public space. The kiosk will be designed as both a seasonal commercial space, and year-round space for exhibiting information about Lake Michigan — from its history as an industrial machine to its potential future as an ecological preserve. The studio will explore how a kiosk engages with both visitors and the surrounding environment, and how a kiosk maintains an active presence on the lakefront and attracts visitors year-round

Martin Felsen
2020-2021
Winter

24198
Architecture of the Public Library

In this architecture studio course, you will learn and practice a range of architectural skills, using as a starting point the library as an institution, and in particular the range of libraries in and around Chicago. You will look at, sketch, and work within libraries across the campus and city, and think about the role the library plays in our time. Studio projects will focus on the library as a locus for learning, a public space, an organizational system, a set of social services, and an architectural opportunity. After a series of short design exercises, you will work in groups to design a proposal for a new library for Chicago, on a real site that you choose. The bulk of your time will be spent on these studio projects, but there will also be reading and conversation. Materials for drawing and making will be provided. (Note: this class will not have field trips outside of class time, but will regularly meet at different locations both on-campus and around the city. Please make sure you've built enough time into your schedule to get to and from meeting locations.) Consent is required to enroll in this class. Interested students should email the instructor (Luke Joyner, lukejoy@uchicago.edu) to briefly explain their interest and any previous experience with the course topics. Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

2020-2021
Spring

24205
Skills & Processes for Architecture and Urban Design

This studio course seeks to acquaint students with a range of skills and methods in design, including manual, digital and hybrid methods. Students will test out several design processes through a series of problem sets and micro-projects, and develop their own personal tools and ways as they go. An emphasis will be put on free play and experimentation, followed by rounds of revision and refinement. We will also consider how historical research, precedent, context and constraint can help meaningfully inform design process, without overly paralyzing it. This is an excellent course to take if you are interested in other studio design courses (such as courses listed ARCH 2419X and ARTV 24267), but want to build up your skills before undertaking a major, quarter-long project.

Consent is required to enroll in this class. Interested students should email the instructor (Luke Joyner, lukejoy@uchicago.edu) to briefly explain their interest and any previous experience with the course topics, though none is required. Priority will be given to 1st-3rd year undergraduates who have not already taken UAD studio courses, but intend to do so. Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

2020-2021
Winter

24210
Complex Curves/Plastic Shapes

Complex forms are ever more prevalent in architecture, in large part due to sophisticated software easing their design and fabrication. This course is a formal investigation of these curved forms and plastic shapes, and aims to develop critical understanding of formal issues underlying their use, construction and intention. The format is that of a combined workshop/seminar: in workshop mode, weekly drawing exercises will be done with increasing levels of geometric complexity. This work will be accompanied by discussion of formal issues, including positive and negative space, boundaries, interiority, and distinction between curved surfaces and volumes. Readings and presentations will provide theoretical and historical background. The underlying basis for our investigation are a number of sculptures done in the mid-20th century by Albers, Moholy-Nagy, Gabo, Hepworth, Kobro, and Vantongerloo. Seen as a whole, their work provides methodologies for the construction of complex curved form, and a broad range of positions on materiality and fabrication.  The discipline learned from both their and your work is applicable at a variety of scales from the intimate to the architectural, as well as to orthogonal constructions.

The exercises build on each other so steady participation is needed. Familiarity with digital software is preferred, although analog methods of drawing and making can work. Some experience with design is recommended. 

2020-2021
Winter

24615
/
34615
Modern and Contemporary Materialities (Suzanne Deal Booth Conservation Science)

This course aims to explore the links between materiality, making, and meaning of modern art and investigate how surface, form, texture, and color are localized in particular artistic or historical contexts. It can be argued that the discipline of art history still remains substantially divided between those who study what objects mean and those who study how objects are made, where ‘meaning’ typically derives from cultural hermeneutics, while ‘madeness’ remains the province of technical analysis. The course will discuss the methods, theory, and strategies of a material-based approach, its forms of writing and claims to meaning. Readings will be drawn from a variety of disciplines, including art history, visual and material culture, anthropology, philosophy, and material science.

Students must have instructor consent to register for this course. Please email Maria Kokkori at mkokkori@artic.edu by Tuesday, September 8th to express your interest, indicate any previous experience you have with the course topics, and how you envision contributing toward the conservation initiative’s goal of diversifying the field of conservation and conservation science.

2020-2021
Autumn

24706
/
34706
Japanese Art in the Sinosphere

From the earliest centuries of the common era until the 1870s, Japanese writers, artists, and scholars considered themselves to be living in the Sinosphere: the realm of China’s cultural and political centrality. Starting with a consideration of Chinese material culture in the Tale of Genji, we will proceed to address topics such as the relation between Chinese and Japanese handscroll paintings, the spread of Chinese-style ink monochrome painting in Japan, the rise of the Kano school as official painters and Chinese-style painting experts, and the immense popularity of literati painting and calligraphy. Korean painting’s intersection with Chinese and Japanese art in the medieval and early modern periods will also factor into the discussion. We will evaluate the changing dynamics around political power and gender embodied in the Chinese/Japanese oppositional duality and reassess the prevailing narratives concerning how the Sinosphere faded from view in the Meiji era.

2020-2021
Winter

25112
/
35112
Objects of Andean Art

This seminar introduces Pre-Columbian Andean material culture and built environments surveying the region from the early Chavín culture through the Incas. Readings and class discussions examining broad cultural issues will be elaborated by hand-on analysis of artifacts in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as interactive explorations of art-making techniques. The course particularly seeks to develop understandings of the raw materials used to make objects in order to contextualize them within trade networks, the Andean landscape, and cultural value systems, as well as artistic knowledge and skills.

2020-2021
Winter

25113
/
35113
Rhoades Seminar: Possibility and Peril: Material and Technical Innovations in Modern Textiles

This course meets at the Art Institute of Chicago. Students should plan their schedules accordingly to account for travel.

This course will consider the material and technical innovations that attended industrialized textile production in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Among the topics considered will be the invention of new fibers such as rayon, Lurex, and polyester, the introduction of synthetic dye stuffs, and the rapid mechanizing of the production process. The promises of these innovations will be examined alongside a consideration of their functional and ecological implications.

2020-2021
Winter

25810
/
35810
Global-Abstraction

(
LACS 2/35810
)

This course investigates twentieth-century abstraction as a global phenomenon, focusing on the period from 1945 through the 1960s. Case studies will be drawn primarily from the United States, Europe, Latin America and East Asia, but individual research projects from other regions will be welcome. Themes and questions to be addressed include: the repetition of historical avant-garde strategies such as the grid, the monochrome, and non-compositional order in Europe, the United States, and South America; the global reception and adaptation of Abstract Expressionism; distinct understandings of gesture, mark-making, and subjectivity; the meaning and use of color; the relationship of abstraction to industry and design; the deployment of abstraction as a “weapon of the Cold War” and a strategy of internationalization; and autochthonous definitions of abstraction outside the West. Artists, groups, and movements to be studied include: Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, Zero, Blinky Palermo, Georges Mathieu, Lucio Fontana, Neoconcretism, Alejandro Otero, Gutai, and Tansaekhwa.

2020-2021
Spring

25895
/
35895
Autonomy Etc.

Description forthcoming

2020-2021
Winter

26791
/
36791
Best in Show: Art History as Exhibition History

(
ARTV 2/34265
)

In this course, I propose a reading of post-war art history as seen, in part, through the periodical prism of one of the field’s most important, signature events – the five-yearly Documenta exhibition in Kassel, Germany. Starting with the founding 1955 edition organized by Arnold Bode and ending with the 2017 edition which I worked on as a curator, we will discuss one chapter of Documenta’s history per class alongside related events like the Venice and Sao Paulo biennials and Skulptur. Projekte Münster, touching upon such key issues of contemporary art practice and theory as the dynamics of globalization, identity politics, the vagaries of market influence, history and memory and the pressures of the social realm on aesthetic experience. As a history of exhibition making and curatorial practice, the course will also draw on recent developments in museum culture and the everyday politics of the art world’s various institutions, and will be recounted in part from the perspective of exhibition-making experience. The class will consist of hands-on curatorial exercises, as well as writing and reading assignments that mirror and follow the 64-year arc of our historical periodization.

2020-2021
Spring

27320
/
37320
Transpacific Art Histories

“What is in a rim?” the Sinologist Arik Dirlik asked in the early 1990s reconsidering the complex economic and political relations between the nations that border the Pacific Ocean. Since the middle of the 20th century, the Pacific Ocean has emerged as an important “contact zone,” one that has been constructed, imagined and employed to various socioeconomic and political ends. However, the cultural and particularly artistic exchanges that have occurred across its shores remain largely overlooked and understudied. Using the trope of the Pacific Ocean, this class identifies, analyses and compares artistic exchanges through four different themes: ocean, rim, land, and routes. Classes will pair art theory and methodology with artworks that provide evidence of communication, contact and interconnection. This course will contribute foundational research for an upcoming Smart Museum exhibition and also contribute to a new field of historical inquiry – Transpacific Studies. 

2020-2021
Winter

27520
There is No Such Place as America

Description forthcoming

2020-2021
Spring

27800
/
37800
The Material Science of Art (Suzanne Deal Booth Conservation Seminar)

PQ: Permission of instructor required for registration.

This course will introduce students to the methods, theories, and strategies of scientific approaches to studying art objects and consider the meaning of different materials and surfaces across artistic media. It will showcase new scholarship generated in the field of conservation science and object-based art history that draws its strength from the collaborative work among scientists, conservators, art historians, and theorists. Conservation science draws on the applied sciences and engineering to understand how to preserve the world's cultural heritage and forge connections between making and meaning. The course will explore scientific examinations to investigate the production and use of art objects. Focusing on material studies of paintings and sculptures, pigments as well as their binding media, students will learn about the material make-up of art objects by employing visual analysis alongside practical studies using scientific analysis and imaging on campus and at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Readings will be drawn from a variety of disciplines, including material science and chemistry, art history, visual and material culture, anthropology, and philosophy.

2020-2021
Spring

28705
/
38705
Christian Iconography

(
RLST 28705
)

In Christian culture, visual images have for many centuries played a pivotal role in ritual, devotion, intellectual thought, and religious instruction. The most important aims of this course are that students understand images convey meaning in very unique ways and learn how to decode their visual messages. The study of iconography encompasses a variety of methods used to identify the subject matter of a pictorial image, describe its contents, and analyze its discursive strategies in view of its original cultural context. We will cover some of the most important themes visualized in the arts of Christianity by analyzing imagery spanning different periods, geographical regions, pictorial media, and artistic techniques. While special emphasis is placed on the intersections of art and literature, we will also examine pictorial themes that are independent of a specific textual basis. Alongside the study of Christian iconography, this course will address broader issues of visual inquiry, such as patronage, viewer response, emotions, and gender roles. In this course, students will acquire a 'visual literacy' that will enable them to explore all kinds of works of art fruitfully as primary sources in their own right.

2020-2021
Winter

29001
/
39001
Painting and Description in the Roman World: Philostratus' Imagines - Religion, Education, Sexuality

(
RLVC 39001
)

This course explores Roman art, especially painting, through the single most thoughtful, playful and creative text on naturalistic painting written in antiquity. Arguably, it is the most interesting examination of the brilliance and the problems of naturalism ever written in the Western tradition, creating a non-historicist, fictive and rhetorically-inflected model for thinking about art. Philostratus took the rhetorical trope of Ekphrasis to new heights, in an extraordinary intermedial investigation of textuality through the prism of visuality and of visual art through the descriptive prism of fictional prose. The course will involve close readings of Philostratus’ descriptions of paintings alongside exploration of the Greek and Roman art of the imperial period from Pompeian paintings via floor Mosaics to sarcophagi. A reading knowledge of Greek could not be described as a disadvantage (!) but is not a requirement. The course will be taught over 5 weeks in the Spring Quarter on an intensive schedule. =Before the course begins, read the Imagines of the Elder Philostratus in the Loeb Classical Library translation (by Arthur Fairbanks, 1931, Harvard U.P., much reprinted). This book is not exorbitantly expensive and is worth buying, as we will all need a copy throughout.

2020-2021
Spring

29600
Junior Seminar: Doing Art History

PQ: Required of third year students who are majoring in art history; open to non-majors with consent of instructor.

The aim of this seminar is to deepen an understanding of art history as a discipline and of the range of analytic strategies art history affords to students beginning to plan their honors papers or, in the case of students who are minoring in art history, writing research papers in art history courses. Students read essays that have shaped and represent the discipline, and test their wider applicability and limitations. Through this process, they develop a keener sense of the kinds of questions that most interest them in the history and criticism of art and visual culture. Students develop a formal topic proposal in a brief essay, and write a final paper analyzing one or two works of relevant, significant scholarship for their topics.

2020-2021
Spring

29600
Junior Seminar: Doing Art History

PQ: Required of third year students who are majoring in art history; open to non-majors with consent of instructor.

The aim of this seminar is to deepen an understanding of art history as a discipline and of the range of analytic strategies art history affords to students beginning to plan their honors papers or, in the case of students who are minoring in art history, writing research papers in art history courses. Students read essays that have shaped and represent the discipline, and test their wider applicability and limitations. Through this process, they develop a keener sense of the kinds of questions that most interest them in the history and criticism of art and visual culture. Students develop a formal topic proposal in a brief essay, and write a final paper analyzing one or two works of relevant, significant scholarship for their topics.

2020-2021
Winter

29800
Senior Thesis Workshop

Required of fourth-year art history majors.

This workshop provides guided research on the topic of the senior thesis. Students arrange their program of study and a schedule of meetings with their assigned section leader. Required of fourth-year Art History majors who wish to pursue honors.

Staff
2020-2021
Autumn