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.

2022-2023
Spring

14810
Devotion - Dissent - Disenchantment? Art in the Age of the Reformation

In the years leading up to Martin Luther’s radical transformation of the political-religious landscape, late medieval and early modern Europeans were inundated with a flood of “alternative facts” that called into question the intellectual, ethical, and religious values governing their lives. With the advent of new media technologies, images became important vehicles of commentary and disputation for Reformers, leading to the formation of a public sphere of discourse to which the image was central; yet, at the same time, the image itself and its role in daily life came increasingly under attack. This course provides an introduction to artistic production in northern Europe from the late fourteenth century through the sixteenth century through the lens of the productive, if tumultuous, relationship between art and the epistemological challenges of the Reformation. Particular attention will be paid to the shifting status of the artist, focusing on the historical and cultural circumstances that led to the elevation of artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Hans Baldung, and Pieter Bruegel the Elder, as well as their relationship to the world outside the Alps, including Italy, Spain, and the New World. This course will also examine topics such as the relationship between word and image, iconoclasm and iconophilia, public and private spheres of patronage, and strategies of visual polemics. Readings will include primary sources in translation and selected works of modern scholarship.

2022-2023
Winter

15780
Western Modern Art from the Enlightenment until Today

Surveying the history of modern Western art from the 18th through the 21st century, this course will introduce students to the artists, art works, and issues central to the relationship between art and modernity: the rise of the self and identity politics, the growth of the metropolis, the questioning of the "real" and the invention of photography, the autonomous thrust and semiotic potential of abstraction, the political ambitions of the avant-garde, and the impact of consumer and media cultures. Most discussion sections will center around original works of art and take place in the Smart Museum of Art.

2022-2023
Spring

15800
Contemporary Art

Focusing on the interrelationships between the art industry and mass cultural formations within the post-industrial and post-colonial worlds, our survey will address a wide range of historical and methodological questions: the impact of new technologies of production, reproduction, and communication; the contested legacies of the utopian projects of the Euro-American avant-gardes, the changing roles of cultural institutions and cultural producers, the formation of new audiences, the global impact of movements for social liberation, and the rise and fall of “modern art.”

2022-2023
Spring

16100
Art of the East: China

This course is an introduction to the arts of China, covering the period from the Shang-Zhou dynasties to the twentieth century. It focuses on significant monuments and artworks produced in imperial, aristocratic, literati, religious, and public contexts. We will study archaeological finds, underground architecture, temples, paintings and calligraphy, objects, and artworks. The goal is to help students comprehend Chinese art’s main ideas and concepts, use proper language to communicate art historical ideas, and think critically about issues arising from China’s visual and material culture.

2022-2023
Spring

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.

2022-2023
Winter

16460
Modern Latin American Art

This course investigates the development of Latin American art from the early nineteenth century to the present. Through the study of representative artists, movements, and works, we will trace this history from the formation of art academies in newly independent Latin American nations through the region’s rise to prominence in an increasingly global art world. Although we will adhere to a roughly chronological organization, a set of key themes and debates will likewise structure our investigation. Among them are: the formation of collective identities (and the intersections of race, class, and nation); the impact of social and political revolutions and counter-revolutions on artistic practices; the reception and adaptation of indigenous and European (and later U.S.) art practices; and the various national, regional, and global frameworks that have been used to think through the specificity of art production from Latin America. 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.

2022-2023
Winter

16807
Islamic Art and Architecture: 7th - 13th C

(
ARCH 16807
)

Throughout the history of Islam, artists and architects have sought inspiration in the earlier periods of Islamic art and architecture. This course explores the first six centuries of Islam's rich visual heritage. Learn to recognize major stylistic variations in Islam's medieval mosques, memorials, and palaces, as well as manuscripts, ceramics, and textiles. Learn to describe these variations in relation to differing models of piety and political legitimacy, as well as to production techniques and markets. Understand how all of the above changed in relation to the changing map of the Islamic world and the fluctuating vibrancy of trade routes linking China, India, Africa, and Europe.

2022-2023
Winter

16809
Islamic Art and Architecture, 14th - 21st centuries

(
ARCH 16809, NEAA 10631
)

Islamic art and architecture are often thought of as medieval -- and indeed they first blossomed in the medieval world. However, many of Islam's best-known monuments, from the Selimiye Mosque to the Taj Mahal, were actually made in the age of the Islam's early modern empires. This course explores early modern Islamic arts and architecture through lenses of power, piety, and trade. It also traces legacies of early modern Islamic art and architecture in modern and contemporary visual creativity.

2022-2023
Spring

16910
Modern Japanese Art and Architecture

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.

2022-2023
Winter

17303
The Body in Ancient Greek Art and Culture

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. Our focus will be on works of Greek art in Paris collections, which will also enable us to explore the legacy of Greek constructions of the body in the 19th and 20th centuries. Readings will range from primary texts in translation to more theoretical writing on embodiment, gender, and sexuality.

2022-2023
Spring

17305
The Acropolis of Athens

This course offers an introduction to the monuments of the Acropolis of Athens and their various afterlives. We will begin with the rock itself and the ancient structures built upon it. Focusing especially on the major monuments of Periklean Athens – including the Propylaia, the Erechtheion, and above all the Parthenon – we will study their architecture and sculptural decoration, situating them in the artistic, religious, and political contexts in which they gained meaning. We will follow the history of these monuments through the end of antiquity and into the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. The controversy surrounding the removal of the so-called “Elgin Marbles” in the early 19th century will launch us into a consideration of the Acropolis’ enduring place in modernity, and we will examine how the Acropolis’ monuments have come to take on new forms of signification through lenses as varied as Freudian psychology, European nationalism, cultural heritage management, and disability studies (among others). Our class discussions will be complemented by multiple visits to collections and monuments in Chicago, where we will trace the local influence of the Acropolis and even encounter one of its fragments.

2022-2023
Winter

17501
Art and Feminism

How has feminism changed the landscape of artistic practices over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries? What does a history of feminist art look like and how does it relate to a feminist history of art? In this course, students will consider the relationship between art and feminism, focusing upon artwork produced in the Americas over the last century. Through course readings, seminar discussions, and the close analysis of artworks, the course will be structured around a series of thematic investigations across the geographical space of the Americas, focusing especially upon the U.S. and Mexico. We will consider texts by feminist art historians such as Linda Nochlin and Anne Wagner alongside key texts by feminist theorists such as Judith Butler, bell hooks, and Laura Mulvey; we will explore the work of artists who have identified as feminists (e.g., Judy Chicago, Howardena Pindell) as well as those who have complicated or even resisted such identification (e.g., Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Martin, Yayoi Kusama). Key themes will include: representations of bodies, eroticisms, domestic space and labor, the relationship between the personal and the political, and the politicization of materials and making processes.

2022-2023
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 commonalities 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 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, iconographic, psychological, social, feminist, theoretical and reception. Readings are chosen with this diversity of approach in mind.

2022-2023
Spring

17612
The Art of Michelangelo

(
FNDL 21411, GNSE 17612
)

The focus of this course will be Michelangelo’s sculpture, painting and architecture while making use of his writings and his extensive body of drawings to understand 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 chronological starting with his 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 the deity of art and a lonely, troubled, repentant Christian. Beyond close examination of the works themselves, among the themes that will receive attention for the ways they bear upon his art are Michelangelo’s fraught relationship with patrons; his changing attitude towards religion, especially his engagement with the Catholic Reform; his sexuality and how it might bear on the representation of gender in his art and poetry; the “official” biographies during Michelangelo’s lifetime and complex, ambivalent, reception over the centuries; new ideas about Michelangelo that have emerged from the restoration and scientific imaging of many of his works. At the same time, the course will take seriously the introduction of students with little or no background in art history to some of the major avenues for interpretation in this field, including formal, stylistic, iconographic, psychological, social, feminist, theoretical and reception.

2022-2023
Autumn

17720
Material Energies: Iron, Architecture, and Environment

(
ARCH 17720
)

This course will revisit a familiar topic in the history of architecture—the rise of iron construction—through the lens of the intersecting social, environmental, and political crises of our present moment. Though iron’s history extended back millennia, the scale of its manufacturing was always severely constrained by the amount of energy its production required. This changed once coal was applied to the production process beginning in the eighteenth century. Transformed from an expensive, specialty material towards an object of mass consumption, iron’s application—from stoves to street furniture to architecture to railways—began redefining the material consciousness of the nineteenth century. Its expanding presence offered tangible evidence of a fossil fuel economy that had begun to reshape nature in its own image. As iron began reshaping the material world, how did it change the mentalities and expectations of those who experienced its unnatural growth? This course will examine a range of sites and episodes that describe iron’s social and environmental costs, the complex history of its manufacture, and its consequences on a series of telescoping scales—artifact, structure, ornament, and infrastructure. Through the examination of case studies and material artifacts—including the rise of iron construction and ornamentation in Chicago—we will explore how iron both shaped and was shaped by debates around industrial labor, economic growth, and colonial expansion.

2022-2023
Autumn

17915
Women's Work

(
ARCH 17915
)

As a haptic art, an art experienced through touch as well as the other senses, architecture operates at multiple scales: that of hand, building, city. The scale of the hand gives the most direct access to architecture and its furnishings: think of a handrail, a chair, a textile, a brick pattern, a wood detail. This is the realm of craft in architecture and was, for decades, the realm inhabited and ruled by women practitioners. Women designed furniture, made drawings, wove textiles, produced pottery and glasswork as a means of expression within the male world of architectural practice. As an introduction to the study of architecture, craft entails applying principles of proportion, scale, tactility, precision, materiality, and assembly; in this way, craft is a microcosm of architecture. Through a series of projects and readings centered around the craft arts and the women who advanced them, this studio course will introduce students to small-scale making and translate that process to larger scales. Students will undertake three projects: (1) a small work of craft and a set of orthographic drawings describing the making process, (2) a design for a workspace for a craft, and (3) a series of analytical drawings linking a work of architecture back to a traditional craft.

K. Mills
2022-2023
Autumn

20304
/
30304
Ancient Stones in Modern Hands

Consent Only

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 eighteenth century to the present, from the Mediterranean to the Pacific. In addition to primary source materials readings will include scholarship from the fields of gender studies, art history, and the history of emotions.

A. Goff
2022-2023
Autumn

20685
Material Narratives

(
ARCH 20685
)

This studio course explores architecture and design-thinking through the lens of materials. We will examine the physical, historical, social, environmental, aesthetic, and emotional properties of materials, investigate design strategies used to realize materiality in buildings, and dive deeper into understanding the material motivations of a building's author. Course topics are organized thematically by type of material: stone/masonry, wood/steel, concrete, glass, and innovations in material technology. We will turn input to output through a series of creative, hands-on exercises designed to introduce the concepts of scale, aggregation, manipulation, abstraction, and representation. Design studies will build off each other to culminate in a final architectural project–the materialization of a narrative from a poem, a film, a song, a memory… Texts, case studies, discussions, and trips will underpin and enrich the studio work.

S. Park
2022-2023
Spring

20700
Understanding the Built Environment

This course aims to equip students with the basic skills and knowledge required to analyze architecture and the built 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 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.

2022-2023
Winter

21205
/
31205
From the Non-Object to the End of Art: The South American 1960s

Beginning with the 1959 publication of the “Neo-Concrete Manifesto” in Rio de Janeiro, this course traces the radical transformations of art objects and artistic practices in Brazil and Argentina over the course of the 1960s and into the early 1970s. Through the study of both works of art and the writings of artists and critics, we will investigate new definitions of the art object, revolts against existing institutions of art, and the emergence of performance, media, and conceptual art. These developments will be read against the philosophical and theoretical texts in which they were in dialog (phenomenology, media theory, and structuralism) as well as the social and political changes in the region, including the impasse of mid-century modernization efforts and the rise of repressive dictatorships.

2022-2023
Autumn

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

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 may 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”.

2022-2023
Autumn

21325
/
31325
Monochrome Multitudes

(
KNOW 21325, KNOW 31325
)
Consent only

This seminar traces modern monochrome art as a fundamental if surprisingly expansive artistic practice. Discussions will center on artworks in the eponymous fall 2022 exhibition at the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art curated by the instructors. We will revisit classic North American Modernism—“essentialist” flatness, idealized form, and color theories—while opening monochrome art up to culturally resonant color, a range of media, and global influence. Student research will enrich and expand existing histories of “the monochrome” by articulating cultural, political, racial, or gendered meanings of monochrome art; emphasizing the significance of materials and media; and engaging North American art in a global dialogue. Students will have the opportunity to contribute their research and writing to the exhibition’s web-based audio app and to a research symposium and possible publication.

2022-2023
Autumn

21506
/
31506
Medieval Visions

This seminar will introduce students to key medieval theories of vision in western Europe ranging from the theological to the scientific. We will explore the ways in which beholders approached and interacted with images, as well as how they understood and theorized these visual experiences. Ultimately, this course will interrogate the overlaps and gaps between theories of looking and practices of looking in order to better understand what looking at an image in the Middle Ages entailed. Topics will include, but are not limited to: visionary experience; optical science; female mystics; devotional images; the Book of Revelation; dream theory; and changes in pre-modern “visuality” on the eve of the Reformation.

2022-2023
Spring

22115
/
32115
Iconoclasm

The recent removal of Confederate statues in the US and ISIL’s destruction of ancient sites in Iraq and Syria, while motivated by different aims, find a common solution in dealing with images deemed inappropriate. Context is crucial to understanding what is at stake in these different iconoclastic acts: What is being destroyed? Who is destroying it and why? Although the term “iconoclasm” initially was used to describe the violent clashes between rival Christian ideologies over the status of images in a religious context in the 8th century, scholars now use it more capaciously and it refers to any movement dedicated to the destruction of images, be it in ancient Mesopotamia, Reformist Europe, or Talibanist Afghanistan. While the term offers syntactical clarity, it simultaneously obscures the various processes that go into practicing iconoclasm; for example, what motivated Byzantine destruction of icons is distinct from why European colonizers destroyed Native American heritage. This seminar proposes a broad and historically contingent study of iconoclasm. By looking at a range of examples from different periods and geographical contexts, we will examine the ways in which images have been perceived as threats, aberrations, seductions, or inconveniences best removed. We will also explore the various ways in which removed images continue to resonate with new meanings. The seminar spends a week defining the key terms before delving into particular case studies of iconoclasm.

2022-2023
Spring

22305
/
32305
Rhoades Seminar: Spiritual and Protective Lives of Objects in African Art

This seminar explores visual culture and historical arts of Africa primarily from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries through a broad geographical range of case studies in practices and uses for art and objects of devotion in everyday life. Investigations will highlight objects’ tangible and intangible elements to examine their spiritual and protective dimensions through various lenses: organized religions, including Islam and Christianity, local belief systems and ritual practices, social or political organizations, and other cultural distinctions. Such contextualization will contribute to students’ recognition of the diversity and historical depth of the continent’s arts and cultures. We will visit objects in local museums and special exhibitions for in-person, close looking and to fuel discussions surrounding the role of museums and museum display and interpretation. 

J. Purdy
2022-2023
Winter

22606
/
32606
Renaissance on Foot

Consent only

This course traces the movements of foreigners who explored, imagined, represented, and reinterpreted the Italian Renaissance from the late sixteenth century to the Enlightenment.  In texts and images, both Italian and transalpine visitors began to construct our modern understanding of Renaissance urban culture, its monumental achievements, its artistic, economic, and political experiments, and its heroic failures, while they also began to tell the story of its inevitable decline and ultimate descent into decadence.  In many ways these narratives of the Renaissance began their own complementary itinerary across Europe, detached from the rough and tumble conflicts in which it was born and entering into a discursive realm of increasingly erudite reflection by travellers from all over Europe. 

2022-2023
Autumn

22650
/
32650
Luxury and Crisis

Consent Only

What role have those objects considered superfluous, lavish, personal, and fashionable played in sculpting our collective social, political, and economic worlds? Furnishings, tapestries, silverware, porcelain, and jewelry are often cast as superficial indulgences of the elite, existing outside the space and time of historical change. Yet such items have of course permeated all classes of society and processes of production, promotion, consumption, disparity, power, exploitation and campaigns to resist it. Some historians have understood crisis as integral to capitalist modernity and its rupture, while theorists of artistic and architectural modernism have paradoxically imagined luxury as instrumental in building socially equitable futures. In this course, we will investigate moments in which luxury and crisis, these seemingly opposed terms, were negotiated and galvanized by makers, wearers, collectors, and the objects in their possession. This seminar will work intensively with the Chipstone Foundation for the Decorative Arts in Milwaukee. Our objects of study will include silverware from the trans-Atlantic slave trade; a political manifesto of “communal luxury;” furniture crafted by a free cabinetmaker of color in North Carolina; and modernist residential architecture in Chicago, among others.

2022-2023
Spring

22812
/
32812
Making art for the princely court in fifteenth-century France and the Burgundian Netherlands

Looking at the visual culture of fifteenth-century France and the Netherlands through the lens of the patronage of the kings of France and their ambitious cousins the dukes of Burgundy, we will consider palace design and decoration, the places for art in an itinerant court, and the central role of dynastic memory and ceremony in support of the ruler. The wide range of tasks performed by artists working for the rulers and their courtiers will highlight the interconnections between works in different media and bring out the complex role of artists like Jean Fouquet, Jan van Eyck, and Rogier van der Weyden, whose fame rests on their achievement as painters. Case studies of painting, tapestry, embroidery, and other media--where possible using objects in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago--will be entry points for this exploration of the patron's needs and the artist's process.

Martha Wolff
2022-2023
Autumn

23010
/
33010
From Ground to Gallery: Visual Culture of the Ancient Near East

(
HIST 25624 HIST 35624 NEAA 20610 NEAA 30610
)

What is the “ancient Near East”? What is its visual culture? This course explores the ancient art and architecture of the regions of Western Asia and North Africa, that is to say, of Mesopotamia, Syro-Anatolia, the Levant, Persia, and Egypt dating from the fourth through the first millennium BCE (3500 to 330 BCE). Such a corpus includes palaces, temples, and ziggurats, as well as carved reliefs, royal images, votive statues, cylinder seals, and cuneiform tablets crafted of clay, rock, semi-precious stones, metals, ivory, and pigments. In addition to their formal and stylistic qualities, we will consider the practices by which this corpus was made, the cultural value of the raw material, life histories and modes of circulation, interactive and experiential potential, significance within the larger social and political climate, and the reception and treatment of these works of art in a modern context, including the museum space. Class meetings—structured around thematic case studies of material groups generally presented in chronological sequence—address conceptual issues (agency, materiality, aesthetics, narrative, ideology, space, representation, style, sensory experience), theoretical and methodological considerations (archaeological, art historical, anthropological, philological, historical), and current topics and debates related to these fields of study and museum practice (colonialism, ownership, repatriation, stewardship). The course draws primarily on archaeological evidence and ancient textual sources and includes regular visits to the Oriental Institute Museum.

2022-2023
Winter

23312
/
33312
Visual Art and Technology: From the Historical Avant Garde to the Algorithmic Present

(
KNOW 23312, KNOW 33312, MAAD 15312
)

This course tracks the entanglements of visual art and “technology,” a term which took on an increasingly expanded set of meanings beginning in the early decades of the twentieth century. Focusing on the period between World War I and the present, we examine these expanded meanings and ask how the work of art fundamentally shifted with, extended, tested, or acted upon “technology.” We consider cases from the art historical avant gardes, the impact of cybernetics and systems thinking on architecture and visual perception, midcentury collectives that sought to institutionalize collaborations between artists and engineers, as well as more subtle exchanges between art and technology brewing since the Cold War. We will conclude with a look at present-day practices that integrate visual art, design, and technology. Course readings drawn from art history and the histories of science and technology, as well as site visits to art collections and laboratories on campus, will inform our investigation. Students will gain historical insights into the relation between visual art and technology; develop analytical tools for critically engaging with the present-day interface of art, science, and engineering; and consider the implications for the futures we imagine.

2022-2023
Winter

23812
COSI: Making Space: Buddhist Art from India to China

From Star Trek’s episode Mirror, Mirror, to the recent Everything Everywhere All At Once, multiple universes have their place of honor in the zeitgeist of our age. While it may seem like a recent development, the idea of complex space has been explored by numerous cultures of the past. Throughout the course of its long history, Buddhism has provided one of the most sophisticated explorations of space, from the infinitely small to the infinitely large. This course is an introduction to Buddhist Art from India to China, with a special focus on the making of “space.” Taking the theorization of “space” as a guide in our survey of Buddhist art, we will learn about how visual culture participates in philosophical reflections on the construction of spaces. This course asks several questions specific to the study of Asian art while also broaching theoretical debates relevant across time and space, such as: how can visual culture offer a theory of “space”? What spatial mechanisms direct the viewer across space? How do objects change when removed from their original space—and what meanings do they acquire in their new contexts? The course will focus on objects from the Asian Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago. Students will be taught to work with them, investigate their history of excavation and relocation, as well as the ethical aspects of Western collections of Asian Art. Students will also gain basic skills in connecting material culture to religious and historical texts.

2022-2023
Spring

24190
Imagining Chicago's Common Buildings

Consent Only

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.)

2022-2023
Spring

24191
City Imagined, City Observed

Consent Only

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 ARCH 24267), but want to build up your skills before undertaking a major, quarter-long project.

2022-2023
Winter

24196
Second Nature: New Models for the Chicago Park District

(
ARCH 24196
)
Consent Only

It's easy to presume that the Chicago Park District preserves “first nature” within the metropolitan field. But the motive for creating the park system was hardly natural. Planned by the Commercial Club of Chicago,the parks were a political and managerial strategy dressed as a gift: offering refreshment and recovery to retain the consuming and producing power of Chicago’s middle class. With more than 600 sites, 400 fieldhouses, 26 miles of lakefront, 50 outdoor pools, a museum campus and Soldier Field, today’s park district operates as a sovereign territory within the city. Multiple and distributed, this territory pervades every ward and neighborhood. Like concepts of ‘wilderness,’many never step foot in the park district but are comforted to know that it exists. It is second nature. This year, as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Frederick Law Olmsted, questions arise about our changing view of the significance, maintenance, and relevance of the spaces within this civic network. With cultural change, the distribution and structure of the park network faces new demands, and so does the very mythology that grounds it. If the park system was emblematic of Chicago as a city defined by modern industry, later additions to the system (Millenium Park) are emblematic of Chicago’s shift to finance, culture, tourism, lifestyle economies, and ecological concerns. This studio asks: (1) What opportunities emerge as we rethink Chicago’s parks? (2) If the status of parks are changing, what are the implications for other civic spaces and systems? This course can support students coming from a wide range of disciplines: art, architecture, history, geography, philosophy, urbanism, public policy, and the social or physical sciences. We will engage texts, debate issues, review proposals, and voyage into the field as nourishment: to inspire agendas and inform the design process.

2022-2023
Autumn

24206
Cultural Cartography of Bronzeville

Consent Only

The city continually erases itself, replacing the spaces, architectures, objects and activities that resonate in the memory of its inhabitants. While this process is the consequence of familiar forces — capitalist development, socio-cultural changes, environmental responses — the phenomenon of perpetual erasure sometimes produces a form of collective amnesia, interfering with our ability to reconcile with our pasts, especially histories of systemic displacement, exclusion, and exploitation. This course, a hybrid of a seminar and studio, will examine the deep cultural and urbanistic implications of Chicago’s Bronzeville. Via poetry, fiction, history, testimony, interviews, photography,and films, students will recover Bronzeville’s layered history and contemporary implications. In the studio, students will develop drawings to connect these narratives so space and time. Via site visits and conversations, this course will connect with artists, architects and researchers currently completing projects within and adjacent to this area of the city.

2022-2023
Spring

24270
Children & Architecture

(
ARCH 24270
)
As with most architecture studio courses offered, consent is required to enroll, to ensure interest and fit. Starting August 1, students should email the instructor (Luke Joyner, lukejoy@uchicago.edu) to request consent. This course includes a day-long trip to St. Louis on Friday 9/23, just before the quarter begins. Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment. Please also note that architecture studio courses comprise one 80-minute meeting and one 170-minute meeting per week.

Many who pursue architecture do so initially out of a childlike fascination with buildings, places and worlds. Curiosity and limited understanding naturally provide children with an exploratory relationship to the built environments they traverse, and children also often show a heightened sense of wonder -- heightened emotions of all kinds -- as that relationship plays out. (This can be positive and formative, or scary and traumatic.) And yet, many of the adults who make choices about the worlds we inhabit think mostly of adults, and as adults, in doing so. This architecture studio course investigates the built world through a child's eyes, across different moments in history, including our own. Readings and seminar discussions will range from playgrounds to blocks, preschools to family relations, swimming pools and sandcastles to the very construction of childhood as an idea. We will explore Chicago, and meet with builders of all ages, likely culminating in designing (and potentially building) a real playground space. While previous experience with architectural skills is not necessary to excel in this course, childlike curiosity is required.

2022-2023
Autumn

24602
/
34602
Image, Medium and Context of Chinese Pictorial Art

In this course, pictorial representations are approached and interpreted, first and foremost, as concrete, image-bearing objects and architectural structures---as portable scrolls, screens, albums, and fans, as well as murals in Buddhist cave-temples and tombs, and relief carvings on offering shrines and sarcophagi. The lectures and discussion investigate the inherent features of these forms, as well as their histories, viewing conventions, audiences, ritual/social functions, and the roles these forms played in the construction and development of pictorial images.

2022-2023
Winter

24616
/
34616
Pop & Politics

As Andy Warhol famously put it, Pop art is about “liking things.” Derived from the word “popular” and suggesting the fizzy effervescence of soda, could Pop be anything other than easy and breezy and fun? Exploring Pop art creating across the Americas, this course will interrogate Warhol’s sound-bite-turned-Pop-gospel and plumb beneath the slick surfaces of those objects and images that have come to define the genre. From Warhol’s depictions of race riots, to Colombian artist Antonio Caro’s appropriation of the Coca Cola logo as a critique of U.S. imperialism, to Brazilian painter Antônio Henrique Amaral’s decades-long series of banana paintings that less and less subtly critiqued the military dictatorship, we will investigate the political stakes that motivated key examples of Pop art. What was lost and remained buried when early pop critics took Warhol’s comment at face value? When they assumed pop art was easy, straightforward, and uncritical? How might those same assumptions have enabled artists across the Americas to hide political commentary in plain sight?

2022-2023
Autumn

24617
/
34617
Modernism and its Others

This course investigates modernism’s relationship—both intimacy with and enforced distance from—a number of adjacent categories that were more often than not of modernism’s own creation: primitive art, folk art, kitsch, art brut, arte popular, craft, and design. Case studies, drawn from Europe, North America, and Latin America, will include primitivism in early-twentieth-century Europe, displays of folk art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the study of arte popular in Mexico, Peru, and Brazil, and the formation of the Museo del Barro in Paraguay. Through these cases, we will ask how the ways in which artists and critics identified modernism’s others and drew distinctions from those others might inform our understanding of modernism.

2022-2023
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.

2022-2023
Winter

25118
/
35118
Color Everywhere: Synthetic Dyes and Modern Art

This course will consider the profusion of new dyes (aniline, azo, and vat) available for coloring textiles, foodstuffs, and other materials in the second half of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth and ask if these industrial innovations, which fueled subsequent rapid shifts in fashion, paved the way for modernist experiments with color. Artists who engaged with various media, including Sophie Taeuber Arp, Sonia Delaunay, and Marguerite Zorach, will be central to the discussion. Modern artists’ engagement with theories of color, particularly those expounded by specialists working in the textile industry, such as Michel-Eugène Chevreul, will also be examined.

2022-2023
Autumn

25140
/
35140
Aesthetic Ecologies

(
GRMN 2/33523
)

What would an intellectual history of the environment look like when told from the perspective of art history writing? The geographer Friedrich Ratzel, who first began using the term “Umwelt” (“environment”) in a systematic way, claimed that, up to the end of the 19th century, the idea of environment had been primarily discussed not in scientific contexts but rather in aesthetic ones, by “artistically predisposed thinkers.” In this course, we will take Ratzel’s claim seriously and aim to recuperate the aesthetic side of theories of environment across diverse areas such as: notions of landscape (“the picturesque”); aesthetic and biological theories of milieu (Haeckel’s “ecology,” Taine’s “milieu,” Uexküll’s “Umweltlehre”); Warburg’s cultural history; the “sculpture of environment” (Rodin and Rilke); the “space-body” in modern dance (Laban). This course is about artworks that continue beyond their material confines into the space environing them. It focuses on evocations of air as the material space surrounding an artwork in texts that thematize the continuity between artwork as image and material object. Materials include: Aby Warburg, Rudolf Laban, Siegfried Ebeling, Camillo Sitte, Otto Wagner, Alois Riegl, R.M. Rilke, Wassily Kandinsky, Martin Heidegger, and others. MAPH and undergraduate students welcome.

I. Christian
2022-2023
Autumn

25401
Cities in Protest

Consent Only

Long considered as condensers of social interaction, cities are here considered in terms of unfolding political change, from a spatial and architectural perspective. The impact of public protest is studied through the assemblage of crowds in protest. The spatial control of the city is changed in these events, impacting conventional relationships between political power and urban spatiality. Two event periods are considered: the protests of 1968, when cities were taken over by a variety of public outbreaks, and more recent events of Jan. 6, 2021, when the US Congress was overrun by mob action. These are “stress-tests” to conventional urban theory about socialization and public gathering. Such events provide insight on how political concerns and built fabric not only affect one another, but how those relationships can be altered dramatically. Existing photographs, news reports and histories are used to document the conflagrations, with construction of detailed spatial models of the crowd movement as the end product. Studio work will document the protests with drawings and digital models, while strategies of representing the dynamic of crowd behavior will be considered in detail and be the subject of final papers.

2022-2023
Winter

25706
/
35706
Public Land as Landscape: Ecosystems, Representation, and American Nation Building

Consent Only

The history of landscape art in the United States has often been described as fundamentally intertwined with American identity and nation building. In many of these interpretations, a tension exists between reading landscape as purely symbolic representations of abstract ideals or as mere description of a physical place and its flora and fauna. This course will examine that tension by interrogating the history of public land and its representation in the United States, thinking through methods drawn from art history, indigenous critical theory, and the environmental humanities to understand landscapes both for their symbolic and ecological values. Federal land, like that managed by the National Park and Forest Services as well as state, county, and local parks will be analyzed. We will look at canonical works of the American landscape, including by artists such as Thomas Moran and Ansel Adams, photographs from 19th-century geological surveys, as well as contemporary artists’ responses to these works. Additionally, we will visit local sites of public land as case studies such as Jackson Park, the Burnham Wildlife Corridor, and ‘Site A’ in Red Gate Woods (where UChicago housed a self-contained nuclear lab and buried the world’s first nuclear reactor). The course will help students think through the ecology of public land and the ways in which historical understandings of habitat function, landscape, and American identity have shifted over time.

2022-2023
Spring

26705
/
36705
Approaches to Contemporary Chinese Art

(
EALC 26705, EALC 36705
)

This course examines histories of contemporary artmaking from China since the 1970s. The course will begin by introducing post-Mao artistic avant-garde movements, the response to urbanization in art at the turn of the 20th century, and the influence of globalization since 2000. Attention will then be offered to a new generation of young artists from China as well as diasporic artists working transnationally. This course is particularly interested in contemplating ways in which artists capture facets of accelerated time all the while living in a culture where physical environments and interactions are becoming increasingly obsolete due to major investments in robotics, AI technologies, online communication platforms, and virtual monetary exchange applications.    

2022-2023
Autumn

28330
/
38330
Art and Religion from the Roman to the Christian Worlds

(
RLVC 38330, CLAS 38322, CLCV 28322, RLST 28330
)

This course will be an introduction to Roman and early Christian art from the early empire to late antiquity. It will explore the significance of the changes in visual production in relation to different attitudes to religion and society; its specific and conflictive historiography; the particular issues involved in the move to Christianity and a Christian visual culture. We shall veer between an empirical inductive approach, looking at lots of stuff and a more general account of theoretical overviews that have been offered for Roman and late art – overviews that have been influential in the broader historiography of art history as a discipline. Course Note: The course will be taught over 5 weeks in the Spring Quarter on an intensive schedule. 

2022-2023
Spring

28605
/
38605
Earthworks Revisited

Consent Only

More than half a century after the first modern artworks were made using the land and earth as central materials, new understandings of this seemingly canonical phase in postwar Western art history are emerging from new questions, perspectives, and contexts. As these “earthworks” have found a place in the long history of art, what is their relationship to ancient and indigenous artistic and architectural practices? From the vantage of potential ecological destruction, might this “land art,” makeable and reachable only by car and plane and sponsored in part by the De Menil family, be better understood as "oil art”? What new insights do newly accessible archives by now deceased artists yield, for example the estates of Walter De Maria and Robert Smithson? How have these works aged, and what is their longterm future from the perspectives of material, technical art history, and conservation?

2022-2023
Spring

28705
Christian Iconography

(
RLST 28705, MDVL 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.

2022-2023
Autumn

29162
/
39162
Masquerade as Critique

Consent Only

Critique is most often figured as an act that reveals a reality that was previously hidden, as though one were pulling back a curtain or lifting a veil. But, as the critic Craig Owens points out, “in a culture in which visibility is always on the side of the male, invisibility on the side of the female…are not the activities of unveiling, stripping, laying bare…unmistakably male prerogatives”? This interdisciplinary seminar develops an alternate genealogy of critique informed by feminist, queer, and Black studies perspectives. It eschews the modernist drive toward transparency, instead examining tactics of resistance such as masquerade, disidentification, appropriation, drag, fugitivity, and critical fabulation. This course pairs readings by authors including Eve Sedgwick, bell hooks, José Muñoz, and Saidiya Hartman with art, performance, and films by figures like Claude Cahun, Carrie Mae Weems, Jack Smith, the Karrabing Film Collective, Cheryl Dunye, David Hammons, and Jennie Livingston. Together, we will ask: What is critique, and how does it relate to power? How have artists engaged strategically with visibility and invisibility, and what can their work teach us today? This course will incorporate guest lectures and fieldwork in museums and archives. Culminating in a creative final project, it aims to develop a toolkit for critique that thinks past the timeworn imperative to render the invisible visible.

2022-2023
Spring

29600
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 own BA 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. This seminar is followed by a workshop in Autumn Quarter focusing on research and writing issues for fourth-year students who are majoring in art history, which is designed to help writers of BA papers advance their projects.

2022-2023
Winter

29800
Senior Seminar

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.

2022-2023
Autumn