An Introduction to the History of Art: Meanings in the Visual ArtsBeatrice Kitzinger
Introduction to the histories of art and the practice of art history. You will encounter a range of arts (including painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, prints) and artistic practices from diverse historical periods, regions, and cultures. Faculty members of the Department of Art and Archaeology lecture in their fields of expertise; precepts balance discussion of particular works, readings, and student projects. In Fall 2020, coursework is designed to encourage students' work with the methods and questions of art history to explore their local environments. We pay particular attention this year to the various definitions of "art."LA
The Unfinished Work of ArtCarolina Mangone
Unfinished art captivates by revealing creative processes, presenting ambiguous representations, and inviting viewers to participate imaginatively in the act of completion. This seminar examines the Western fascination with unfinished art from its first textual traces in ancient writings, through its pervasive materialization in the Renaissance by artists like Leonardo, Michelangelo and Titian, to its transformation and reinvention in Impressionism, process art, conceptual art and beyond. By questioning conventional distinctions between means and ends, we probe how lack of finish shapes the functional, aesthetic, and expressive power of art.LA
Behind the Scenes: Inside the Princeton University Art MuseumCaroline I. Harris
Participants in this seminar will go behind the scenes of a major university art museum with an encyclopedic collection of more than 100,000 objects from ancient to contemporary art. Sessions will focus on close looking and discussions of museum best practices and the role of the museum in the 21st century with a special emphasis on collecting.LA
Archaeology as HistoryJanet Kay
Over the course of the semester, we will examine how historians and other scholars can use archaeological methods to interpret the lives of the people we study, especially the people who are not mentioned in texts. How is archaeology related to history, and vice versa?HA
Just LookingRonni Baer
Guided by the Distinguished Curator in connection with her fall exhibition at the Princeton University Art Museum, the students in this course will be encouraged to look closely at paintings. We will explore the artistic style, condition, patronage, cultural values, and meanings reflected in the portraits, histories, sea- and landscapes, still lifes, and scenes of daily life produced in the new 17th-century Dutch Republic. Learning how to look and describe what you see and considering what kinds of questions artworks can raise are skills that can be honed and transferred to all types of human endeavor.
Neoclassicism through ImpressionismBridget Alsdorf
A broad study of European painting and sculpture from the French revolution to 1900 with special attention to social, political, and cultural shifts. Lectures explore a range of themes including art and revolution, imperial conquest, the rise of landscape painting, the politics of the nude, the birth of "modernism" and the avant-garde. Emphasis on major figures including David, Canova, Goya, Vigée-Lebrun, Turner, Courbet, Manet, Monet, Degas, Rodin, van Gogh and Cézanne.HA or LA
Contemporary Art: 1950–2000AnnMarie Perl
A survey of postwar art from an international perspective, focusing on the major artistic movements in their historical contexts, including the Second World War, the Cold War, decolonization, the civil rights movement, feminism, globalization, and economic boom and recession. Lectures explore several themes including art's relationship to popular culture, the mass media, consumer society, historical memory, and political and social activism. Throughout, we account for the startling formal metamorphoses of art itself, as it is transformed from traditional painting and sculpture into new forms that challenged the very nature and limits of art.LA
Near Eastern Humanities I: From Antiquity to IslamEve Krakowski
This course focuses on the Near East from antiquity to the early centuries of Islam, introducing the most important works of literature, politics, ethics, aesthetics, religion, and science from the region. We ask how, why, and to what ends the Near East sustained such a long period of high humanistic achievement, from Pharaonic Egypt to Islamic Iran, which in turn formed the basis of the high culture of the following millennium.EM
Rage against the Machine: Art and Politics in AmericaRachael Z. DeLue
From drawings by Europeans of indigenous people in the Americas to the Black Lives Matter Arts+Culture project, art and politics in America go hand in hand. This course considers intersections of art and politics in the United States from the revolutionary era to the present, examining how artists have engaged the political sphere to express critique, accommodation, dissent, resistance, and rage. Particular focus will be on racial politics and art and activism now, in the midst of anti-racist protests and the resurgence of white supremacy, and students will track and analyze the ongoing role of art in politics as the semester unfolds.CD or LA
Language to Be Looked AtJoshua I. Kotin
Irene V. Small
This seminar focuses on the intersection of language and visual art in the 20th century. We examine modernist and avant-garde experiments in word and image, and investigate the global rise of concrete and visual poetry and text-based art after World War II. We compare and combine methods from literary studies and art history, as well as other disciplines, including history and philosophy. Students explore techniques of close looking and reading in relation to a range of topics--medium, representation, abstraction, networks. Students also engage material practices by, e.g., realizing instruction pieces and assembling magazines.LA
Masters and Movements of 20th-Century PhotographyAnne McCauley
By focusing on six major figures, this course examines the ways that photography was transformed from a poor stepchild of the fine arts to a staple of museum exhibitions. Students will consider such topics as the impact of abstraction on photography; the interactions between art photography and the new print and cinematic mass media; and development of photographic collections and criticism. The careers of Stieglitz, Moholy-Nagy, Weston, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Cindy Sherman will form springboards for broader discussions of photography's critical importance for twentieth-century thinking about the real and the imaginary.LA
Olmec ArtBryan R. Just
This course surveys Olmec and related material culture spanning roughly 2000-500 B.C., including architecture and monumental sculpture, ceramic vessels and figurines, and exquisite small-scale sculpture in jade and other precious materials. Of central theoretical importance is the question of how we understand and interpret art from a distant past, especially without the aid of contemporaneous written records. We will focus on original works of art, including works in the Princeton University Art Museum and in regional collections. Issues of authenticity, quality, and provenance related to these works will also be considered.LA
Arts of the Islamic WorldPatricia Blessing
This course surveys the art and architecture of the Islamic world from the 7th to the 16th centuries. It examines the form and function of architecture and works of art as well as the social, historical and cultural contexts, patterns of use, and evolving meanings attributed to art by the users. Themes include the creation of a distinctive visual culture in the emerging Islamic polity; urban contexts; archaeological sites; key architectural types such as the mosque, madrasa, caravanserai, and mausoleum; portable objects and the arts of the book; self-representation; cultural exchange along trade and pilgrimage routes.CD or HA
Junior SeminarNathan Arrington
The Junior Seminar is an introduction to the myriad subjects, methods, and strategies of art history. The course examines the different kinds of evidence and methodological tools that have been used to identify, explain, and contextualize works of art as well as other kinds of objects, artifacts, and cultural phenomena. In other words, this seminar considers what art historians do, and how and why they do it. In addition, majors will learn how to use resources such as the library and the museum, and how to undertake substantive written research projects. Students begin their Junior Independent Work in this seminar.
Art, Apartheid, and South AfricaChika Okeke-Agulu
Apartheid, the political doctrine of separation of races in South Africa (1948-1990), dominated the (South) African political discourse in the second half of the 20th century. While it lasted, art and visual cultures were marshaled in the defense and contestation of its ideologies. Since the end of Apartheid, artists, filmmakers, dramatists, and scholars continue to reexamine the legacies of Apartheid and the social, philosophical, and political conditions of non-racialized South Africa. Course readings examine issues of race, nationalism and politics, art and visual culture, and social memory in South Africa.
Topics in the History of Photography: Inventing PhotographyAnne McCauley
Just as initially there was no one process that was identified as what we call "photography" today, there was no one moment of "invention" or clear idea of what making pictures with light might accomplish. At a time when it is fashionable to speak of the "death of photography," this seminar returns to the earliest experiments with light, silver salts, and cameras between 1789 and 1848 in order to reconsider what photography was, why it embodied the ideals of "modernity," and how it can be located within practices ranging from drawing, printmaking, magic, optical amusements, art, chemistry, and industrial production.LA
The Vikings: History and ArchaeologyJanet Kay
Who were the Vikings, at home or abroad? How did their raiding and settlement change the history of the British Isles and western Europe? This course will study the political, cultural, and economic impact that Norse expansion and raiding had on early medieval Europe. It will also look at the changes in Scandinavia that inspired and resulted from this expansion. Sources will include contemporary texts, sagas and epic poetry, material culture, and archaeological excavations.HA
Proseminar in the History of ArtBrigid Doherty
A proseminar that examines the conceptual foundations of art history as a modern discipline and explores questions and methods vital to the discipline today.
The Graduate SeminarAndrew Watsky
This course is intended to ensure a continuing breadth of exposure to contemporary art-historical discourse and practices. It requires attendance and participation in the department lecture/seminar series. Students must take the course sequentially in each of their first four semesters and take the appropriate letter version of the course (A,B,C,or D) based on their semester of study. The course is taken in addition to the normal load of three courses per semester and is for first- and second-year graduate students only. Topics discussed cover all fields of Art History and address current questions and practices.
Social Identities in Ancient EgyptDeborah Vischak
Ancient Egyptians, like all people, had multiple, intersecting aspects to their identity that were linked profoundly to their social communities. What kinds of objects, images, and material traditions linked ancient people together? What material forms acted as crucial modes of communication within communities and among them? We examine a wide range of material culture considering various sections of society, and we then look in-depth at several ancient sites to examine how these various groups intersected in shared spaces and across time.
Seminar in Medieval Art: Viewpoints on Medieval SculptureBeatrice Kitzinger
The seminar engages a suite of new books on medieval sculpture that particularly address the relationship of plastic works to their viewers, and the role of sculpture in spaces shaped both by multiple media and by ephemeral performance. We read the latest work in concert with landmark studies in the format of a research workshop: each 4-week unit requires participants to prepare a research agenda, present initial findings, and submit a short paper. Students contribute to the course bibliography. In lieu of a single final paper, participants are encouraged to compile a portfolio of the short critical essays with a general introduction.
Seminar in Central European ArtThomas DaCosta Kaufmann
The Prague Court of Rudolf II (1576-1612) has gained recognition as one of the most important sites in the history of European cultural history. This seminar considers the voluminous literature and related exhibitions on Rudolfine Prague since c. 1970. Topics include the relationship of art and collecting to politics, religion, science, the occult and the wider world.
Seminar in Modernist Art and Theory: Modernism and SocialismHal Foster
This seminar explores various connections between modernist art and socialist politics from the 1848 revolutions to the present. How were these links forged, and why were they broken? What (if anything) can we deduce about the relationship between vanguard aesthetics and politics then and now?
Seminar in Japanese Art and Archaeology: Appropriation and the Arts in Pre-Meiji JapanAndrew Watsky
Appropriation - of style, iconography, and actual objects - contributed substantially to shaping the arts of Japan. Japanese artists borrowed from China and Korea, from the West, and from within Japan itself. Whether the thing borrowed was a mode of depiction or an object, the appropriation was an active engagement with the source and a response to it that involved conceptual transformation. A range of examples are studied, including ink painting, chanoyu (tea ceremony), and Floating World prints, exploring appropriation as impediment or stimulus to innovation, assertion of cultural dominance, and mediation of the past.