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.

2019-2020
Winter

10100
Introduction to Art

This course develops skills in perception, comprehension, and evaluation of various art objects and the built environment. It encourages close analysis of visual materials, exploring the range of questions and methods appropriate to works of art and buildings, 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 and sites on campus.

2019-2020
Autumn

14105
Introduction to Roman Art and Archaeology

(
CLCV 14113
)

This course offers a survey of the art and archaeology of the Roman world from the founding of Rome in the eighth century BC to the Christianization of the Empire in the fourth century AD. Students will witness the transformation of Rome from a humble village of huts surrounded by marshland in central Italy into the centripetal force of a powerful Empire that spanned mind-bogglingly distant reaches of space and time. Throughout the course, we will consider how the built environments and artifacts produced by an incredible diversity of peoples and places can make visible larger trends of historical, political, and cultural change. What, we will begin and end by asking, is Roman about Roman art?

2019-2020
Spring

14107
Greek Art and Archaeology

(
CLCV 14119
)

This course provides an introduction to the art and archaeology of ancient Greece between ca. 1000 BCE and 200 BCE, from the early settlements of the Geometric period to the rise of the Hellenistic kingdoms. To modern eyes, Greek art can appear at once familiar and foreign, its imagery and artistic forms both instantly recognizable and difficult to parse. Over the course of the quarter, we will gain the cultural knowledge necessary to look at ancient artifacts and monuments as their original makers and viewers might have seen them. We will develop the art-historical skills necessary to investigate a range of materials and techniques, stories and myths, practices and ideologies, all of which informed the way Greek art was produced and experienced. Participants will learn how to describe Greek art in ways that are both sensitive to historical context and informed by the methodological practices that transform archaeological discoveries into history.

2019-2020
Winter

14200
Introduction to Medieval Art

(
MDVL 14200
)

This course provides an introduction to art produced during the European Middle Ages. Beginning with the fusion of Christian and Imperial images under the Roman Empire and ending with the introduction of print in the fifteenth century, this course considers works of art across a variety of media (architecture, sculpture, painting, textiles, metalwork, stained glass) and in a range of historical and cultural contexts. We will address the complex social, religious, and political motivations that informed artistic production during the Middle Ages, and we will focus on the question of how images were seen and understood by medieval viewers. The course is organized chronologically and is structured around a set of broad thematic concerns such as the relationship between art and power, changing theorizations of the image, the re-use of the past, the body in art, the relationship of the secular and the sacred, and the role of art in public and private devotion. Readings will include medieval sources in translation and selected works of modern scholarship.

2019-2020
Autumn

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*.

2019-2020
Spring

16100
Art of East: China

(
EALC 16100
)

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.

2019-2020
Autumn

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.

2019-2020
Winter

16800
Arts of Japan

(
EALC 16806
)

This course surveys the arts of the Japanese archipelago through the study of selected major sites and artifacts. We will consider objects in their original contexts and in the course of transmission and reinterpretation across space and time. How did Japanese visual culture develop in the interaction with objects and ideas from China, Korea, and the West? Prehistoric artifacts, the Buddhist temple, imperial court culture, the narrative handscroll, the tea ceremony, folding screens, and woodblock prints are among the topics covered.

2019-2020
Spring

16910
Modern Japanese Art and Architecture

(
EALC 16911
)

This course takes the long view of modern Japanese art and architecture with a focus on the changing relationships between object and viewer in the 19th and 20th centuries. Beginning in the late eighteenth century with the flowering of revivalist and individualist trends and the explosion of creativity in the woodblock prints of Hokusai and others, we will then turn to examine Western-style architecture and painting in the late nineteenth century; socialism, art criticism, and the emergence of the avant garde in the early twentieth century. Also covered are interwar architectural modernism, art during World War II, and postwar movements such as Gutai and Mono-ha. No familiarity with art history or Japan is required.

2019-2020
Winter

17121
The Art of Leonardo Da Vinci

(
FNDL 21414
)

The central focus of this course will be on the small, damaged and disputed body of paintings that Leonardo has left to us, the wealth of his drawings that help us make sense of that problematic heritage and provide the most direct route into his creative thinking, and the hundreds of pages of text in the form of notes in mirror-image handwriting that comment on art and so many other subjects. Our structure will be roughly chronological, including his late fifteenth-century Florentine artistic and social context; his two long periods in Milan as a court artist; his triumphant return to Florence and rivalry with the young Michelangelo; his brief and unsatisfying stay in papal Rome; and his final years in France. Among the themes that will be critically examined are: Leonardo’s role in the creation of what is still grandiosely called the High Renaissance; the value and problematic aspects of thinking of him as the quintessential artist-scientist; the significance of the fact that he has been a figure of such obsessive art-historical and broader cultural significance for over 500 years; and the ways in which recent scientific examination and digital imaging have shed surprising amounts of new light on his art. Through the concentrated study of the works of Leonardo and his artistic context, the course will take seriously the attempt to introduce students with little or no background in art history to some of the major avenues for analysis and interpretation in this field.

2019-2020
Autumn

17303
The Body in Ancient Greek Art and Culture

(
CLCV 17319, GNSE 17303
)

This course provides an introduction to the role of the human body in ancient Greek art. We will examine, on the one hand, the various ways in which Greek artists represented the body, and consider how forms of bodily identity such as gender and sexuality were constructed and articulated through artistic practice. But we will also consider the ways in which works of art themselves — statues, paintings, vessels — could function like bodies or in place of bodies, expanding the notion of what it means to be a living being. Readings will range from primary texts — ancient literature in translation — to more theoretical writing on embodiment, gender, and sexuality.

2019-2020
Autumn

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.

2019-2020
Autumn

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.

2019-2020
Spring

17700
19th Century French Art in the Art Institute

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

In this course we will closely examine 19th century paintings and other media in the Art Institute of Chicago and seek to understand how and why art changed during this period. Topics to be considered include the meaning of stylistic innovation in the 19th century, the development and dissolution of the genres of history painting, landscape, portraiture and still life, and varying conceptions of realism and abstraction. Many class sessions will be devoted to looking at works in the galleries of the Art Institute.

2019-2020
Spring

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.

2019-2020
Winter

17899
Warhol’s Art Histories

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

This undergraduate course centers on the Andy Warhol (1928-1987) retrospective, Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, held at the Art Institute of Chicago on October 20-January 26. This is the first retrospective of Warhol’s work organized by a U.S. institution since 1989. The first part of the course will closely examine the historiography of writing on Warhol— including a focus on the art historical debates about what a queer reading of Warhol’s work looks like and performs; the contested legacies of Warhol’s race riots series; the role of advertising and design; the marginalization of Warhol’s moving image works; and an investigation of the histories of pop art that may have been eclipsed by an over-emphasis on Warhol. The remaining weeks will hinge on close analysis of select objects in the exhibition, as well as the exhibition as itself an argument about why Warhol’s work should be taken seriously. We might include discussions with visiting scholars, artists, conservators and curators.

2019-2020
Autumn

17908
American Graphic Art and Commercial Culture: 1850-1960

This class focuses on widely distributed printed images, most of them with commercial, aesthetic, and/or political significance, along with the graphic design traditions and typography associated with them. While concentrating on American imagery, the context would be international, reflecting the condition of popular graphic arts in this country. Among other things it would treat book illustration, posters, advertising art, magazines and newspapers, cartooning, postcards, children’s literature, commercial paper, and trade catalogs. Necessarily, given this wide scope, it will be episodic in character, but it will also attempt to relate this visual explosion to larger artistic movements, major events, technological changes, and political trends. It would also explore, from time to time, the roles played by collecting, exhibition, and academic commentary in legitimating the subject, as well as the power of ethnic and racial stereotyping and the multiplication of trade and printing journals. The aim, in short, is to examine the flowering of a visual print culture that had its roots in the Gutenberg Revolution of the 15th century. There will be both class discussion and lecturing. This is art in context, emphasizing breadth and the introduction of figures, institutions, and movements nurtured by an expansive production and distribution network. The course will be hosted by the Special Collections Research Center at Regenstein Library, and will feature items drawn from the University of Chicago’s own collections.

2019-2020
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.

2019-2020
Spring

18305
Art in Context: New Art in Chicago Museums

Permission of instructor required for registration.

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.

2019-2020
Spring

20304
/
30304
Ancient Stones in Modern Hands

(
HIST 2/39422, CLCV 21019, CLAS 31019
)

Objects from Classical antiquity that have survived into the modern era have enticed, inspired, and haunted those who encountered or possessed them. Collectors, in turn, have charged ancient objects with emotional, spiritual, and temporal power, enrolling them in all aspects of their lives, from questions of politics and religion to those of race and sexuality. This course explores intimate histories of private ownership of antiquities as they appear within literature, visual art, theater, aesthetics, and collecting practices. Focusing on the sensorial, material and affective dimensions of collecting, we will survey histories of modern classicism that span from the 18th century to the present, from the Mediterranean to the Pacific. Historical sources will include the writings of Johann Gottfried Herder, Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Emma Hamilton, Vernon Lee, and Sigmund Freud, among others, while secondary source scholarship will draw from the fields of gender studies, history of race, history of art, and the history of emotions. We will supplement our readings with occasional museum visits and film screenings. This course is team taught as an interdisciplinary course, and we welcome students from all backgrounds, with no previous experience in ancient art or modern history required.

A. Goff
2019-2020
Winter

20603
/
30603
Image and Text in Mexican Codices

(
LACS 2/30603, KNOW 2/37001
)

In most Mesoamerican languages, a single word describes the activities that we would call “writing” and “painting.” This seminar will investigate the interrelationships between image and text in Central Mexico both before and immediately after the introduction of alphabetic writing in the 16th century. We will also review art historical and archaeological evidence for the social conditions of textual and artistic production in Mexico, and how these traditions were transformed under Spanish colonial rule. We will consider the materiality of text and image by working with facsimiles of Mesoamerican books in the Special Collections of the Regenstein Library. At the end of the course, students will have acquired a basic literacy in Aztec and Mixtec writing systems, and will have refined their ability to look productively and write elegantly about art.

2019-2020
Spring

20700
/
30700
Understanding the Built Environment

(
ARCH 20000
)
This course is geared to introducing the fundamentals of architectural analysis to undergraduates pursuing a minor in architectural studies. However, MA and PhD students in other fields are welcome to register.

This course aims to equip students with the basic skills and knowledge required to analyze architecture and the urban environment. It offers an introduction to the methods and procedures of the architectural historian. These include practical tasks such as understanding architectural terminology, reading and interpreting architectural drawings, engaging with buildings ‘on site’, and studying buildings in context through urban design issues, such as street networks and public spaces. At a broader level, the course will involve critical discussions about the relationship between architecture and society, the building as a historical object, cultural representations of architecture, and modes of perceiving/experiencing the built environment. The course will combine in-class seminars and site visits to buildings in Chicago. NOTE: In the second weekly session, the class will often meet off-campus at sites throughout the city. Students will need to be able to get to these sites in plenty of time, and therefore should not have other classes directly before or after.

2019-2020
Autumn

21313
/
31313
Video Art: The Analog Years. Theory, Technology, Practice

(
CMST 2/38703
)

The course gives a critical introduction to early video and television art – from the proto-televisual impulses in the historical avant-gardes to the increasing proximity between analog and digital technologies in video art in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. We will focus on the various technical aspects of analog video, as well as on artistic practice and early writings on the subject. Topics will include the technics and politics of time; video, feedback systems and ecology; the reconfiguration of the artist’s studio; guerilla politics and alternative TV; video and autobiography; the relation between video and painting; the musical history of video; the invention of new machines; and video as a “television viewer”.

2019-2020
Autumn

22351
/
32351
The Sonic Image

The Sonic Image offers a unique opportunity to work with three senior researchers exploring the bridge-making and sense delimiting articulations of sound & sight together.  We will examine the potency of sound in a world largely understood through its visualization as a world picture. Readings in sound studies, visual studies & media studies explore sound, sounds that evoke pictures, the forensics of sound, sound art, & films including The Conversation, Blow Out & Amour.  Each faculty collaborator brings distinct interests to the course. WJT Mitchell’s renowned theorization of images naturally extends to his theorizing the possibility of the sonic image. Artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s commitment to the value of earwitnessing asks the listener to extend forensic knowledge to the very core of what it means to be a human being in the world. For the course, Hamdan will develop a workshop comprising a series of practical exercises that experiment with the conditions of testimony or claim making, enabling an exploration of how the law come to its truths and how can we use sonic imagination to trouble & contest established modes of enacting justice. Performance scholar, Hannah B Higgins, examines how musical notation, performance & sound bear on the relationships between sound & vision in recent art practices. An intervention from composer Janice Misurell-Mitchell will add a dimension of musical testimony to our investigation.

2019-2020
Autumn

22611
/
32611
The Politics of Luxury in the Middle Ages

(
MDVL 22611
)

This course explores conspicuous consumption, the love of costly things, the lure and power of precious materials, and the important role played by the arts in the definition of status, authority, influence, and pleasure in the Middle Ages. Investigating a series of episodes from the history of medieval luxury, we will explore how precious objects participated in western gift-culture (both “sacred” and “secular”), how the patronage of works of art pursued a variety of ideological and social aims, and we will scrutinize the aesthetic and economic conceptions of value transacted via works of art and practices of "ars" (skilled labor). Not least, the course aims to interrogate how the politics of luxury contributed to changing conceptions of the status of the artwork and the artist over the course of the Middle Ages.

2019-2020
Autumn

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.

A. Wali
2019-2020
Autumn

24014
/
44014
The Veneration of Icons in Byzantium: History/Theory/Practice

(
HCHR 44004, RLVC 44004, RLST 28704
)

In order to appreciate the pivotal religious significance icons had in Byzantium for private devotion, in the liturgy, in civic ritual, and in military campaigns, we will survey the visual evidence along with a vast array of written sources. We will explore the origins of the Christian cult of icons in the Early Byzantine period and its roots in the Greco-Roman world of paganism. Through close analysis of icons executed over the centuries in different artistic techniques, we will examine matters of iconography, style and aesthetics. We will also have a close look at Byzantine image theory, as developed by theologians from early on and codified in the era of Iconoclasm.

2019-2020
Spring

24090
/
34090
Japanese Woodblock Prints: From 1660 to the Present

(
EALC 2/34090
)
Permission of instructor required for registration.

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 early modern Japan (roughly 1600 to 1850) for both texts and images. In these years, Japan's high literacy rates and booming urban publishing industry gave rise to 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. Drawing on a recent exhibition at the Smart Museum, this course will consider Japanese woodblock prints as artistic and social objects during the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. While viewing actual prints in area collections, we will discuss style and technique, the representation of class and gender, the world of the pleasure quarters, illustrated plays and fiction, urban growth and travel, censorship, and the supernatural.

2019-2020
Spring

24106
/
34106
Uncanny Resemblances

(
CLCV 23119, CLAS 33119, KNOW 2/34106
)

This course examines one of the most captivating bodies of portrait art in the Western tradition. Captivating because they are at once disquietingly familiar and strange: familiar in their realism and psychological presence, yet foreign in their temporal remoteness. For well over a century, the study of Roman portraiture, an essentially German subfield of classical archaeology, has largely confined itself to forensic problems of dating and identification. More recent work has focused on social and political topics ranging from site-specific issues of context and display, patronage and power, gender, and the ideological stakes of recarving and reuse. Additionally, we will consider the historiographical and media-archaeological contexts that have profoundly shaped and framed our understanding of these objects, both in antiquity and modernity: e.g., the production (and reproduction) of wax and plaster death masks in Roman funerary custom; ancient theories in the domain of optics that were used to explain the phenomenon of portraits whose eyes appear to follow a beholder in space; how the stylistic category of “veristic” portraiture in the Roman Republic has its origins not in antiquity (despite the Latin etymology), but rather in the painting and photography of the Neue Sachlichkeit in Weimar Germany; and how the contemporary use of digital craniofacial anthropometry to study the recarving and reuse of Roman portraits relates to Sir Francis Galton’s criminological apparatus for creating composite photographic images using portraits from ancient coins as early as 1885.

2019-2020
Spring

24190
Imagining Chicago’s Common Buildings

(
ARCH 24190, AMER 24190, ARTV 20210, ENST 24190, GEOG 24190
)
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.

This class 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 class, 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 class 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.

Luke Joyner
2019-2020
Autumn

24191
City Imagined, City Observed

(
ARCH 24191, AMER 24191, ARTV 20205, ENST 24191, GEOG 24191
)
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. Priority will be given to students who h

This urban design studio course takes two distinct notions of the city as its starting point: grand, imaginative plans -- utopian, unbuilt, semi-realized, real... both as aesthetic objects, and as ideas -- and how the minute flows of day-to-day life, up from the smallest scale, enter into dialogue with little built and lived details, intended or not. With Chicago as context and canvas, we will dream both big and small, search both present and past, and draw precisely on both what we dream and what we experience... seeking not to dictate what the city will be, but to expand our sense of what a city can be. The studio work will proceed in two stages: individually developing ideal city plans, then breaking each others' plans, using real observations and factors (and even spontaneous impulse) to complicate and rebuild them into something lovelier.

Luke Joyner
2019-2020
Winter

24195
/
34195
Architecture on Display

(
ARCH 24195
)
Instructor consent required. Please send an email describing your interest in the topic and any relevant background.

This traveling seminar explores the challenges of exhibiting architecture and the built environment, a medium whose scale resists traditional museum and gallery display and whose representation in drawings is notoriously difficult for the public to grasp – but nonetheless is increasingly embraced by museums and biennales. Our central example is “Countryside: Future of the World,” an exhibit on the future of the global hinterland at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum in New York, which we will visit. The latest of several provocative exhibitions by contemporary architect Rem Koolhaas, it instantiates a recent phenomenon of interpretive and thematic shows by architects that exceed the museum’s traditional aim to represent architect-designed buildings and projects. In addition to examining Koolhaas’s work, we will investigate architectural display in two broader contexts: other types of contemporary architectural exhibition, particularly examples we can visit in Chicago and New York, and the history of architectural display through drawings, models, mock-ups, fragments, virtual reality, and buildings converted into museums in their own right, from tenements to the Robie House. Students will write research papers. The course includes a class trip to New York over a long weekend during the quarter, Thursday evening to Sunday.

2019-2020
Spring

24196
Second Nature: New Models for the Chicago Park District

(
ARCH 24196, ENST 24196, ARTV 20206, AMER 24196, GEOG 24196
)

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.

A. Schachman
2019-2020
Spring

24611
/
34611
Materialities of Modern Art

Permission of instructor required for registration.

Exploring the significances of materiality in art, particularly in modern art, this seminar will test the art historical relevancies of theories and histories of materials, and, by extension, of matter, tactility, touch, things, objects, commodities, use, craft, and design. Readings will be drawn from a variety of disciplines, including aesthetics, art history, anthropology, literary theory, philosophy, visual and material culture. Part of the purpose of the class is to work closely with the Smart Museum exhibition "The Allure of Matter."

2019-2020
Winter

24615
/
34615
Modern & Contemporary Materialities (Suzanne Deal Booth Conservation Seminar)

Permission of instructor required for registration.

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.

2019-2020
Autumn

24626
/
34626
Allure of Matter: Material Art in China

(
EALC 2/34627
)
Permission of instructor required for registration. Students who have taken a course in modern or contemporary art history preferred.

This seminar examines contemporary art in China through the lens of the Smart Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition, The Allure of Matter: Material Art in China. Using works in the exhibition as case studies, the course explores questions about materials and materiality in contemporary art. Throughout the course, we will address the following questions: How have unconventional materials impacted art practices in China? How do these material explorations inform our understanding of contemporary art in China and beyond? How do materials mediate different relationships between the artist, artwork and viewer? Guest speakers, including conservators, will expand our discussions of materiality. The course will meet for approximately half of the time at the Smart Museum or Wrightwood 659.

2019-2020
Winter

24721
/
34721
Manet, Mallarmé, and Modernism

(
FNDL 25007, SCTH 35007
)

Much of the theory, as well as the look and sound of modern art, as it developed in the late nineteenth century, is the result of the individual efforts as well as the friendly collaboration of the Parisian painter Edouard Manet and the Parisian poet and English teacher Stéphane Mallarmé. This course will introduce them, examine their major collaborations (Le Courbeau, L’Après-Midi d’un Faune), and place them within the developing consensus in experimental art and thought at the fin de siècle, which for reasons having to do with the reception Mallarmé, came to be called symbolism.

2019-2020
Spring

24813
/
34813
Museums and Art, 1750-1920

Permission of instructor required for registration

This course considers how the rise of the art museum in the modern era affected the making of modern art and the viewing of past art. It is not designed to be a survey course, but rather a historical investigation of certain issues and developments. We will concentrate on the following: what has been said to happen to objects when they are uprooted and moved into the museum; how and why museums have changed display practices so as to get viewers to look at art in new ways; what artists have understood museums to represent and how they have responded to that understanding in their work and their display preferences. Case studies will be drawn from across Europe and the United States.

2019-2020
Autumn

24814
/
34814
Museums and Art, 1920-present

Permission of instructor required for registration.

This course considers the history of the art museum in relation to developments in modern and contemporary art.  We will focus upon how political, social and commercial factors transformed art institutions and display practices in the early and mid-century 20th century; how various challenges -- artists’ critiques, new forms of art making, different audiences – did (or did not) lead to change in the 1960s; and how museums have continued to evolve in the times since.  Case studies will be drawn from across Europe and the United States.

2019-2020
Spring

25105
/
35105
Chichen Itza

(
ARCH 25105, LACS 2/35105
)
Permission of instructor required for registration. This is a traveling seminar; we will go to Chichen Itza and related sites in Mexico between December 14-21, 2019.

This course investigates the visual culture of Chichen Itza, one of ancient Mesoamerica’s most cosmopolitan cities. Thriving in the centuries after the collapse of the lowland Maya kingdoms, the city of Chichen Itza articulated a new political and cosmological vision of authority, drawing on traditions from all over Mesoamerica, past and present, to create an innovative visual synthesis. This course will investigate Chichen Itza’s most famous architectural and sculptural monuments in the light of new epigraphic and chronological discoveries, paying close attention to questions of innovation, repetition, and serial production.

2019-2020
Autumn

25111
/
35111
Rhoades Seminar: Theory, History, and Practice of Textiles — The Andes

(
LACS 2/33512
)
This course meets at the Art Institute of Chicago. Students should plan their schedules accordingly to account for travel.

How many minutes of your day are spent with some form of textile touching your skin? And yet, what do you really know about them? This seminar will introduce you to the basic concepts and techniques of making textiles. While readings and discussions will offer globally-relevant perspectives on textiles, the course’s primary lens will be the prolific textile tradition that developed in the region of the Andes Mountains over thousands of years. In this course, you will conduct hands-on experiments with technologies for spinning, dyeing, and weaving in an art historical laboratory setting, in order to understand the tools, techniques, and embodied knowledge that they entail. You will then apply what you have learned in these experiments to your own studies of ancient Andean textiles in the stellar collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Readings will draw on scholarship, reference works, and how-to manuals. Written assignments will take the form of gallery labels and catalogue essays in order to better understand these genres of writing. This course has no prerequisites, but a willingness to participate in active learning (and not having a fear of perhaps doing something badly the first time) are essential. A background in art practice may be helpful, but is in no way necessary or required. Because wool will be handled extensively, potential allergies should be considered before enrolling.

A.J. Hamilton
2019-2020
Winter

25709
/
35709
Picturing Moral Autonomy in China and Elsewhere

(
EALC 2/35709
)

This course examines how intellectuals in Preindustrial China maintained their independence, as well as their moral compass, in times of inordinate social and political pressure. Systematic thinking on this topic appears early in China, beginning with Confucius and Mencius, but was by no means limited to the Confucian tradition. Zhuangzi (late 4th c. BCE) devoted an entire chapter to the problem. This course will survey some important meditations on the topic from the Classical period, but will focus on the Song dynasty (960-1278) with its rich body of essays, poems, and paintings touching upon the problem of moral autonomy. To supplement our study of primary sources we’ll read secondary sources on Song law, society, and government, as well as relevant secondary studies of European art. Later in the course we will read reflections on Song period Chinese essays by English radicals of the 18th century, and will wrap up with American classics by Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Wendell Berry. Along the way we will learn how to conduct “close readings” of both written and visual materials for clues to the deep, humanistic themes underlying artistic choice.

2019-2020
Autumn

26106
/
36106
Exhibition in Practice II

Permission of instructor required for registration. Background or coursework in modern and contemporary art preferred.

Students in this course will work together to install an exhibition at the Smart Museum of Art. Building on the work produced in ARTH 2/36105 Exhibition in Practice I (spring 2019), students collaborate to write exhibition texts, coordinate programming, and participate in the installation process. Workshopping texts, trouble-shooting, and hands-on activities will feature in class sessions. Readings for this course explore diverse ways to approach exhibition narratives, from museum labels to catalogue essays.

2019-2020
Autumn

26110
/
36110
Ways of Curating and Collecting

(
ARTV 2/30008
)

This seminar takes stock of contemporary currents in curating and collecting practices at a time when we are experiencing rapid expansion of the museum sector internationally, and witnessing the growing ubiquity of “curation” within the spheres of leisure, culture, entertainment and tourism. Using institutions across campus, the city of Chicago and beyond as our primary locus, we will explore curatorial and collecting strategies employed by a variety of visual arts institutions and platforms from the scale of the single-room/single curator gallery, to the museum and the international biennial. We will consider how curatorial and exhibition-making practices have evolved from the latter half of the 20th century to the present day. We will consider the socio-cultural and political implications of curatorial work, and reflect on the shifting status of the art object within collecting and non-collecting institutions. Together we will explore significant curatorial projects at a local, national and international level; we will undertake site visits as well as play host to visiting curators, artists and thinkers. Course readings will feature the writings of seminal international curators as well as selections from historians and theorists in the field of curatorial studies. Students will work through a series of independent and collaborative assignments as well as a final project that integrates curatorial theory and practice.

2019-2020
Winter

26711
/
36711
Florentine Topographies: Art, Architecture, and Urban Life

(
ARCH 26711
)

The site of some of the most widely recognizable monuments of western art history and the home to some of the most famous artists, writers, designers, thinkers, and cultural patrons of early modern culture, Florence has long occupied a central place in a larger pan-European discourse of Modernity, Beauty, and the Individual Subject. As a result, the city itself has come to occupy a mythic position as a central hub of Western intellectual culture: uprooted from its geographical specificity by the circulation of such proper names as Machiavelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and unmoored from its historical heritage by the disorienting complexities of modern mass tourism. Therefore, this course seeks to re-integrate the “Renaissance” into the urban context from which it emerged, to defamiliarize it so that it can be looked at from other perspectives. It focuses on the city itself as the protagonist of some of the most important experiments in art, architecture, and urban development and shows how they were intimately connected to a lively and engaged social body. By approaching images and monuments through the spatial practices by which they were encountered by Renaissance society (rituals of conflict, contests, economic exchange, religious devotion, urban politics, identity formation, among others), students will gain a more nuanced understanding of the links between a localized urban culture and a larger intercultural and cross-temporal exchange of ideas. Rather than diminishing the cultural achievements of its artistic giants, or de-legitimating the rich, varied, and sophisticated intellectual heritage of Renaissance scholarship, this course works toward a critical dialogue between historiography, the historical monument, and the urban context.

2019-2020
Spring

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.

2019-2020
Spring

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

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.

2019-2020
Spring

28212
/
38212
Photography in Africa and African Diaspora

From photography in the 19th century to the present, this course explores how and why photography became central to arguments about the modernity of African visual art and the roles it has played throughout the continent, the diaspora, and beyond. Moving from one regional focus to the next, students examine photography’s roles in expeditionary and ethnographic projects, identity formation, political activism, spirituality, documenting the landscape, and representing the fantastical and the everyday. This course will include visits to the Art Institute of Chicago among other area institutions.

2019-2020
Spring

28702
/
38702
Tales Retold? Modern & Contemporary Chinese Art

(
EALC 2/38702
)

Owing to its revolutionary transformations spanning the 20th and early 21st centuries, China offers a unique access point to exploring key issues in modern and contemporary art.  Modern and contemporary artists from China and the Sinophone world have long confronted rather entrenched double-binds, crises of consciousness.  We might consider this a double consciousness, on their part—consciousness of being artists in a globalizing context, on the one hand; of being political or national subjects, on the other.  Organized thematically, this class will examine selections of artists, movements, and the discourses surrounding them, to unpack the mutual interrelation of key concepts, art and scholarly practices.  Questions to be addressed include: How does art history and criticism currently deal with modern and contemporary Chinese art?  How does the art world define this category of art practice; and vice versa, how do artists view the art world?  Case studies will include artists practicing today as well as historical artists whose work has become a source for the present.  While the class deals primarily with art in China, it will necessarily address the wider issues of globalization and the international institutional networks of contemporary art. Students will be encouraged to think broadly about comparative and inter-Asia relations, rather than dividing the globe into East and West.

J. Lee
2019-2020
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.

2019-2020
Winter

29150
/
39150
Veiling the Image: Sacred and Profane from Antiquity to Modernity

(
RLVC 39150, RLST 28716
)

This course will explore the fascinating culture of covering and veiling sacred icons, or images that were thought to cause trauma or outrage in the European tradition. It will begin in the ancient world and explore medieval, Renaissance and modern art – both paintings and sculptures, as well as images that represent the covering of images… It will attempt to restore the sensual, the tactile and the performative to the experience of viewing art and engaging with its powers, by contrast to the prevailing regime of disinterested contemplation encouraged by the modernist art gallery.

2019-2020
Spring

29600
Junior Seminar: Doing Art History

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.

2019-2020
Winter

29800
Senior Seminar

Problems and methods in Art History. Required of fourth-year Art History majors who wish to pursue honors.

2019-2020
Autumn