Location: Bowdoin / Art History / Courses

Art History

Fall 2014

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ARTH 1010. Visual Culture and the Holocaust.
Since 1945, memorials, works of art in public space, and museums have been dedicated to remembering the Holocaust. Examines works of art and museums produced in, among other countries, Germany, Israel, Poland, and the United States. Nathan Rapoport’s Warsaw Ghetto Monument in Poland, Peter Eisenman’s Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., among other sites, will be addressed. Historical and art historical context, as well as theories of memory and trauma, provide lenses through which works will be interpreted. A range of stylistic approaches of memorials, including representational, abstract, minimal, conceptual, postmodern, and new media art, explained and explored. Two field trips include visits to the Boston Holocaust Memorial and the Holocaust and Human Rights Center in Augusta, Maine.
ARTH 1011. Why Architecture Matters.
Architecture is unavoidable: we spend our lives in and around buildings and in spaces and landscapes defined by them. Too often we take the built environment for granted, oblivious of how it affects us and shapes our lives. This seminar aims to explore architecture’s critical role in creating a sense of place, settings for community, symbols of our aspirations and fears, cultural icons and political ideals. As we investigate the fundamental principles of architecture, we will study closely some of history’s great buildings and spaces. Students will learn how to talk about architecture and write about it.
ARTH 1019. Representing the Modern Artist in Word and Image.
Artists' experiences as recorded in self-portraits and life writings, and in others' writings and images, shape this investigation into art-making in Europe. The course examines the commonalities and particularities of early-modern and modern artists' situations within the larger contexts of artistic training, belief, class, economics, gender, geography, historical events, patronage, and politics. Class meetings feature viewings, discussions, and museum and studio field trips. Sequenced research and writing assignments introduce students to research and resources, develop critical-thinking skills, and offer valuable practice in drafting, revising, and refining written work.
ARTH 1100. Introduction to Art History.
An introduction to the study of art history. Provides a chronological overview of art primarily from Western and East Asian traditions. Considers the historical context of art and its production, the role of the arts in society, problems of stylistic tradition and innovation, and points of contact and exchange between artistic traditions. Equivalent of Art History 101 as a major or minor requirement. Not open to students who have credit for Art History 101.
ARTH 2100. Roman Archaeology.
Surveys the material culture of Roman society, from Italy’s prehistory and the origins of the Roman state through its development into a cosmopolitan empire, and concludes with the fundamental reorganization during the late third and early fourth centuries of our era. Lectures explore ancient sites such as Rome, Pompeii, Athens, Ephesus, and others around the Mediterranean. Emphasis upon the major monuments and artifacts of the Roman era: architecture, sculpture, fresco painting, and other “minor arts.” Considers the nature of this archaeological evidence and the relationship of classical archaeology to other disciplines such as art history, history, and classics. Assigned reading supplements illustrated presentations of the major archaeological finds of the Roman world.
ARTH 2200. Art and Revolution in Modern China.
Examines the multitude of visual expressions adopted, re-fashioned and rejected from China's last dynasty (1644-1911) through the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Major themes include the tension between identity and modernity, Westernization, the establishment of new institutions for art, and the relationship between cultural production and politics. Formats under study include ink painting, oil painting, woodcuts, advertisements, and propaganda. Comparisons with other cultures will be conducted to interrogate such questions as: How does art mobilize revolution?
ARTH 2260. Northern European Art of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries.
Surveys the painting of the Netherlands, Germany, and France. Topics include the spread of the influential naturalistic style of Campin, van Eyck, and van der Weyden; the confrontation with the classical art of Italy in the work of Dürer and others; the continuance of a native tradition in the work of Bosch and Bruegel the Elder; the changing role of patronage; and the rise of specialties such as landscape and portrait painting.
ARTH 2320. Art in the Age of Velazquez, Rembrandt, and Caravaggio.
The art of seventeenth-century Europe. Topics include the revolution in painting carried out by Caravaggio, Annibale Carracci, and their followers in Rome; the development of these trends in the works of Rubens, Bernini, Georges de la Tour, Poussin, and others; and the rise of an independent school of painting in Holland. Connections between art, religious ideas, and political conditions are stressed.
ARTH 2420. Realism and Its Discontents: European Art, 1839-1900.
A survey of European art from the advent of photography to the turn of the century. The nineteenth century witnessed an explosion of urban growth, increasing political and economic power for the middle and working classes, and revolutionary scientific and technological discoveries. How did the visual arts respond to and help shape the social forces that came to define Western modernity? Questions to be addressed include: What was the impact of photography and other technologies of vision on painting’s relation to mimesis? How did new audiences and exhibition cultures change viewers’ experiences and expectations of art? How did artists respond to the new daily realities of modern urban life, including the crowd, the commodity, railways and electric light? Artists discussed include Courbet, Frith, Manet, Ford Madox Brown, Julia Margaret Cameron, Whistler, Ensor, Gauguin, and Cézanne.
ARTH 2640. American Art from the Civil War to 1945.
A survey of American architecture, sculpture, painting, and photography from the Civil War and World War II. Emphasis on understanding art in its historical and cultural context. Issues to be addressed include the expatriation of American painters, the conflicted response to European modernism, the pioneering achievements of American architects and photographers, the increasing participation of women and minorities in the art world, and the ongoing tension between native and cosmopolitan forms of cultural expression. This class will work with original objects in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.
ARTH 3330. Studies in Seventeenth-Century Art: Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi.
Contrasts two artists—one male, one female—whose powerful, naturalistic styles transformed European painting in the seventeenth century. Starting with a close examination of the artists’ biographies (in translation), focuses on questions of the artists’ education, artistic theory, style as a reflection of character, and myths and legends of the artists’ lives. Also examines the meanings of seventeenth-century images of heroic women, such as Esther, Judith, and Lucretia, in light of social and cultural attitudes of the times.
ARTH 3800. The Thing.
The study of “things,” or material culture has emerged as a multidisciplinary umbrella for the understanding of everyday life. Material culture encompasses everything we make or do –the clothes we wear, the houses we occupy, the art we hang on our walls, even the way we modify our bodies. Our exploration of object-based approaches to American culture will proceed through hands-on study of things such as, grave markers, great chairs, and girandoles in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and the historic house museums of Brunswick. Readings include primary sources, and scholarly analyses of objects. Assignments will enable students to hone descriptive, analytical, and interpretive writing skills.