Fall 2018 Course Descriptions

See below for the list of courses offered for next fall!

ART 70000
Wednesdays, 2:00-4:00pm
Prof. Claire Bishop

This seminar course is designed to familiarize incoming graduate students in Art History with the methodological approaches that have impacted on the discipline, with a special emphasis on developments since the 1980s.  A close examination of primary sources will be combined with a historiographical approach to art historical texts in which these ideas have been implemented. Topics to be covered will be decided in consultation with the class, and might include: connoisseurship, formalism, psychoanalysis, social history of art, post-structuralism, feminism, queer theory, visual culture, post-colonial theory/critical race studies, and digital art history.


ART 72000
Art of Late Antiquity
Thursdays, 11:45am – 1:45 pm
Prof. Rachel Kousser

 Romans of the Late Antique era (roughly the third to seventh centuries CE) witnessed an increasingly authoritarian monarchy, the spread of a new evangelical religion, and, in their visual arts, an abrupt stylistic change from the idealized naturalism of the Greco-Roman canon to a new, more conceptual and abstract art that presaged that of the Middle Ages.  From Franz Wickhoff and Alois Riegl onward, these changes have formed a central topic of art history, and they have recently attracted increased attention from scholars such as Peter Brown.  This class draws on recent scholarship to re-examine the full range of visual production in late antiquity, from monumental baths and churches to domestic mosaics, sacred and secular illuminated manuscripts, and meticulously carved ivories.  Major topics to be addressed include:  the representation of imperial authority, the creation of a new visual language for Christian art, villa culture in late antiquity, and the visual ramifications of the conflict between polytheism and Christianity.


ART 85000
Fashion in Early Modern Europe
Mondays, 2:00- 4:00pm
Prof. Amanda Wunder

This seminar will examine the art and history of fashion in early modern Europe from the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Precious few secular garments made before the eighteenth century survive, so we will be trying out a variety of sources and methods to gain a sense of the “period eye” to see and understand what clothing meant from various perspectives in the early modern period. Seeking to understand the processes behind change and innovation in fashion, we will be looking at developments in textiles and clothing as they took place within broader historical contexts (global, political, economic, religious, and social). Students will acquire a firm grounding in the historiography of the field, which has been especially rich and dynamic in recent years. In class sessions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other collections we will learn from original objects such as: textiles, vestments, and accessories; printed costume books and tailoring manuals; portraiture; arms and armor. Other classes will include practical experience working with a variety of primary sources and methods, including historic reconstruction.

This interdisciplinary course is not restricted to students in Art History and History; students from other departments and programs are very welcome. Please email Prof. Wunder if you need permission to enroll. Auditors will be accepted by permission of instructor only if space allows. * Important note: About half of the class sessions will meet away from the Graduate Center at museums in Manhattan (mostly the Metropolitan Museum of Art); please allow for travel time in your schedule. Also note that the Registrar has scheduled one class on a Thursday (Sept. 6).


ART 70010
Thursdays, 2:00-4:00 pm
Prof. Judy Sund

This course surveys the processes by which non-European peoples and production have been reimagined and repurposed in a variety of modern Western media (from painting and architecture to advertising, performance and body modification) – in the service of projects ranging from the propagandistic and commercial to the escapist and erotic.  Although exoticist practices are age-old, this course focuses on those that burgeoned in the Age of Discovery and flourished in tandem with 18th– and 19th-century colonialism and imperialism, and surging tourism. Theories of the exotic – as outlined by Victor Segalen, James Clifford, Tzvetan Todorov, Roger Célestin, Deborah Root, Peter Mason, et al. – and considerations of parallel developments in literature inform discussions of chinoiserie and japonisme; Orientalism; portrayals of the Noble Savage; and Western constructions of race and its hierarchies.

Auditors accepted

ART 76020
Abstract Expressionism to Pop: The Fifties and Sixties
Wednesdays, 4:15-6:15
Prof. Mona Hadler

This course examines the art and visual culture of the Postwar era from the end of World War II, through the Cold War, and into the late fifties and early sixties with the explosion of consumerism so associated with the rise of Pop Art.  Bicoastal and international currents will be included as well as issues relating to mass culture, gender, race, class and politics. The class sessions will include trips to galleries, artist’s studios when appropriate and the Whitney Museum Warhol exhibition that opens in November.


ART 86040
The Global Readymade
Tuesdays, 2:00-4:00pm
Prof. David Joselit

We can note three phases in the tradition of the readymade and appropriation since Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel of 1913. First, they include early enactments in which the readymade posed an ontological challenge to artworks through the equation of commodity and art object.  Second, practices in which readymades were deployed semantically as lexical elements within a sculpture, painting, installation or projection as in many mid-twentieth-century practices ranging from those of Robert Rauschenberg to Carolee Schneemann in the American context alone. A third phase, which will be the main subject of this seminar, most directly encompasses the global, where the appropriation of objects, images, and other forms of content challenges sovereignty over the cultural and economic value linked to things that emerge from particular cultural contexts ranging from Aboriginal painting in Australia to the appropriation of Mao’s cult of personality in 1990s China.  This course will consider the most recent phase of the readymade drawing on a wide variety of artists from around the world.



ART 87400

Mellon Seminar: Printmaking and Collectives across the Americas, 1870-1970
Tuesdays, 10:00- 12:00pm
Prof. Katherine Manthorne & NYPL Print Room Specialist, David Christie
Prints, often marginalized and misunderstood in museums and art history courses, take center stage in this Mellon Seminar that examines the emergence of modern printmakers and collectives across the Americas from the 1870s onward.  Drawing upon the remarkable holdings of the New York Public Library, students have the opportunity to study firsthand artists from the United States, Latin America, and Canada who pushed the boundaries of their medium. We explore the enormous social impact of the technology of printmaking, whereby hundreds of identical images can be made from a single plate. The collaborative nature of printmaking demands investigation, ranging from 19th c. artist-etchers to Mexico City’s Taller de Gráfica Popular, Robert Blackburn’s Workshop and the Tamarind Institute. Demonstrations of diverse processes including engraving, etching, lithography, relief prints, and photograph-based printmaking reveal how the means by which pictures are made can impact meaning. We are attentive to women who have helped shape the field by crossing boundaries: American Mary Cassatt working in Paris; African Americans Elizabeth Catlett and Margaret Taylor Burroughs journeying to Mexico; Kara Walker transforming nineteenth-century parlor art into stark commentary on race and violence. Course requirements include participation in weekly discussions and a research paper (oral and written) on subjects ranging from individual printmakers, dynamics of collectives, key exhibitions, collecting or other topics derived from NYPL holdings. Half our meetings are held at the Grad Center, the other half at the NYPL Print Collection.

Auditors accepted only with advanced permission from the instructor