Undergraduate Courses

Fall 2021

An Introduction to the History of Art: Meanings in the Visual Arts
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 hands-on work, readings, and student projects. In Fall 2021, coursework is designed to encourage students to apply the methods and questions of art history in order to explore the Princeton community. We pay particular attention this year to the various forms of art and engagement.
Instructors: Basile Baudez
Roman Art
The course provides a general introduction to Roman art. It discusses various artistic media--portraiture, historical relief, etc.--and highlights important works. The goal is an attempt to understand the significance of the imagery that the Romans produced, which embellished all aspects of their world - that is, to understand the role of artworks in the Romans' lived experience.
Instructors: Michael Koortbojian
Greek Architecture
What makes a Greek temple ringed with marble columns "classical"? This course offers a historical overview of Greek architecture, case studies of landmark structures, and thematic explorations of how ancient religion, politics, and society shaped the built environment of the Aegean and broader Mediterranean. It also delves into the oldest surviving work of architecture theory and looks critically at the legacies of antiquity, particularly in the making of American self-image(s). Precepts include exercises in observation and experiments with ancient building materials (e.g. carving marble) and technologies.
Instructors: Samuel Holzman
Neoclassicism through Impressionism
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.
Instructors: Bridget Alsdorf
Ten Essential Topics in Chinese Art and Culture
What was the role of women in Chinese art? How did Chinese people think about this life and the afterlife? Why and how is calligraphy considered an art form in China? These are but three of the questions this course asks and endeavors to explore. Focusing on ten important and provocative topics, this course aims to provide a comprehensive but spotlighted picture of Chinese art and culture. Together the ten point to the interrelated nature of the visual and Chinese philosophical thought, aesthetic values, religious beliefs, social life, political expression and commercial practices.
Instructors: Cheng-hua Wang
Renaissance Art and Architecture
What was the Renaissance? This class explores the major artistic currents that swept northern and southern Europe from the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries in an attempt to answer that question. In addition to considering key themes such as the revival of antiquity, imitation and license, religious devotion, artistic style, the art market, and the encounter with foreign cultures, peoples and goods, we will survey significant works by artists and architects including Donatello, Jan van Eyck, Alberti, Raphael, Leonardo, Sofonisba Anguissola and Michelangelo.
Instructors: Carolina Mangone, Carolyn Yerkes
Contemporary Art in the Middle East
This course explores the history, aesthetics and discourse framing the art of the Arab world, Iran and Turkey from the late twentieth century to the present. With a focus on building the skills of visual analysis, lectures and discussions will explore the intersection of media, technique, subject matter, artistic discourse and political and social conditions as codetermining factors in art objects. Representing many nations, each with a distinct political and cultural history, the Middle East is multi-ethnic, religious, and complexly interconnected place, whose influence in the art world has steadily grown throughout the last thirty years.
Instructors: Mitra Abbaspour
Arts of the Medieval Book
This course explores the technology and function of books in historical perspective, asking how illuminated manuscripts were designed to meet (and shape) cultural and intellectual demands in the medieval period. Surveying the major genres of European book arts between the 7th-15th centuries, we study varying approaches to pictorial space, page design, and information organization; relationships between text and image; and technical aspects of book production. We work primarily from Princeton's collection of original manuscripts and manuscript facsimiles. Assignments include the option to create an original artist's book for the final project.
Instructors: Beatrice Kitzinger
The Formation of Christian Art
Art in late antiquity has often been characterized as an art in decline, but this judgment is relative, relying on standards formulated for art of other periods. Challenging this assumption, we will examine the distinct and powerful transformations within the visual culture of the period between the third and sixth centuries AD. This period witnesses the mutation of the institutions of the Roman Empire into those of the Christian Byzantine Empire. The fundamental change in religious identity that was the basis for this development directly impacted the art from that era that will be the focus of this course.
Instructors: Charlie Barber
World Art History
The class surveys connections in art of different cultures and continents throughout the world from the first civilizations to the present. Attention will be paid to distinctive and related forms of culture and their expression in art and architecture that includes trade, migration, gift exchanges, war and economics.
Instructors: Thomas Kaufmann
Art, Politics, and the Screen
From news streamed on laptops to grassroots organizing on smart phones, screens have become a primary site for the experience of politics in our contemporary world. This course explores the historical genealogy of the political primacy of the screen by investigating how artists have used screens as a means to document, visualize, and enact political processes over the past century. Looking to a range of media such as film, video, and slide projection, the course is divided into thematic units that address issues of oppression, colonialism, and revolution; sexuality and gender; race and its representation; and native peoples' struggles.
Instructors: Benjamin Murphy
Post-1945 African Photography
This course examines the role and status of photography in different phases of Africa's political, cultural and art historical experience since 1945. We explore how African photographers used the photographic medium in the service of the state, society and their own artistic visions during the colonial and post-independence eras. Photography's relationship with art and its social function in Africa will underlie our discussion.
Instructors: Chika Okeke-Agulu
Supply-side Aesthetics: American Art in the Age of Reagan
This course investigates the art and the aesthetics of the age of Reagan and Reaganism with an eye toward the present. How did supply-side economics transform the art world and art itself during the 1980s? How did certain period styles propagate Reaganism? Drawing on artworks from the PU Art Museum, art criticism, cultural criticism, political journalism, and an emerging history, we study critically sanctioned as well as controversial artistic movements of the period, including Neo-Expressionism, Graffiti Art, and Commodity Art, asking what this art can teach us about the age, in which an entertainer-turned-politician was elected president.
Instructors: AnnMarie Perl
Ancient Egyptian Funerary Culture
Tomb monuments built for the highest status members of ancient Egyptian society comprise one of the most important sources of information on ancient Egyptian civilization. In this course, we will examine many aspects of elite funerary culture, centering the built stone tombs filled with images and texts, while incorporating as well other forms of religious texts, stelae, statuary, and coffins. We will consider questions of ancient Egyptian religious beliefs and conceptions of the afterlife, the role of ritual practices, the changing relationship between high elite officials and the king, and multiple aspects of ancient social identities.
Instructors: Deborah Vischak
Junior Seminar
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.
Instructors: Nathan Arrington
The Japanese Print
ART 425 examines Japanese woodblock prints from the 17th - 19th century. We will consider the following: formal and technical aspects of prints; varied subject matter, including the "floating world" of the brothel districts and theatre; Japanese landscape and urban centers; and links between literature and prints, especially the re-working of classical literary themes in popular prints. The seminar will emphasize the study of prints in the university's Art Museum. If travel restrictions and pandemic conditions allow students will research Japanese prints at an art gallery in New York and recommend one for purchase for the Museum's collection.
Instructors: Andrew Watsky
Seminar. Medieval Art: Hagia Sophia: The Politics of Built Space
On July 10, 2020 the Turkish government ordered that Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, one of the great buildings of the world, be converted from a museum into a mosque. This building has served as an Orthodox and a Catholic cathedral, a mosque, and a museum. Each iteration can be read as an articulation of changing political and cultural circumstances that inscribe themselves in turn upon the fabric of this building. This course will map this changing history taking students from the fourth to the twenty-first century.
Instructors: Charlie Barber
Bernini's Women
The emphatic sensuality of Bernini's women--sculptures of historical, allegorical, biblical and mythological females--has endured from their 17th-c creation through their reception in the Me Too era. This course explores Bernini's transformation of insensate stone into seemingly carnal existence and its controversial impact on viewers. We will situate the interplay of touch, desire, erotics, and violence that animates his female bodies in early modern contexts, including notions of gender. Moving into modernity, we will study the imitations his women inspired and the critiques that revisit them from aesthetic, theoretical and feminist lenses.
Instructors: Carolina Mangone
The Invisible Renaissance: Science, Art, and Magic in Early Modern Europe
How did early modern people depict phenomena they could not see? This course traces attempts to represent the invisible: from angels and the influence of stars and magnets, to microscopic creatures and magical effects. Philosophers, painters and magi puzzled over these unseen forces, beings and structures, seeking to describe them in writings and artworks. We will unpack their arguments and try to reconstruct their practices, including optical tricks and alchemical experiments. The course culminates in a virtual exhibition, curated by students, as we follow in the steps of Renaissance thinkers and artists, and put the invisible on display.
Instructors: Thomas Kaufmann, Jennifer Rampling
Seminar in Modernist Art & Theory: Alienation in Modern Art & Literature
Although "alienation" might seem passé as a concept, modern art and literature were long steeped in this condition. This seminar will explore its principal expressions by its primary voices--artists, writers, and philosophers--from Baudelaire, Marx, and Manet through Rimbaud, Nietzsche, and Gauguin, to Existentialist philosophy and outsider art, and on to "Black Dada" today. Among our themes will be the underground, spleen, dandyism, detachment, primitivism, art brut, absurdity, and objectification.
Instructors: Hal Foster
Egyptian Architecture: The Monumental Landscape
In this seminar we will examine a variety of forms of ancient Egyptian architecture, primarily from the pharaonic period, through the lense of landscape. We will examine god's temples, funerary temples, and burial monuments within the larger context of their settings, including the surrounding landscape and their relationships to other monuments. A number of themes will be addressed, including the sacred landscape, architecture as microcosm, architecture and performance, ancestry and memory, the temporality of landscape and monument, and locality and community.
Instructors: Deborah Vischak
Rembrandt is an artist we feel we know, perhaps because he painted, etched and drew so many self-portraits. His art is characterized by an intense intimacy and humanity. Even in his own day, he was lauded for his ability to depict emotions in his narrative scenes, which elicit our empathy. His portraits are not mere likenesses but manage to imply the sitters' inner life. His technical virtuosity, whether it be with paint, pen and ink, or etching needle, is peerless. In this seminar, we will study all aspects of Rembrandt's art and examine his works held by the PUAM and museums in NYC in order to understand his universal appeal.
Instructors: Ronni Baer

Graduate Courses

Fall 2021

Proseminar in the History of Art
A course concerned both with the theoretical foundations of Western art history as a modern discipline and with the methodological innovations of the last few decades.
Instructors: Hal Foster
The Graduate Seminar
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.
Instructors: Andrew Watsky
Early Modern Architecture
New technologies and ancient discoveries inspired a range of creative responses from early modern architects. This seminar explores the tools that architects used as a means to consider relationships between invention and tradition, craft and art, material and form, ancient and modern. We study works by Alberti, Serlio, Philibert de l'Orme, and Michelangelo, among others, and take a transnational and transmedial approach to the study of key developments in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century architecture.
Instructors: Carolyn Yerkes
Art and the British Empire
This seminar proceeds through a series of thematic and case studies ranging from Britain's early colonial expansion to the legacies of empire in contemporary art and museum practice. Topics include science and ethnography; the colonial picturesque; curiosity and collecting; slavery and visual representation; art and nationalism and readings are drawn from a range of disciplines.
Instructors: Anna Kesson
Seminar in 19th-Century Art: Art and Nihilism: Goya and Blake
This seminar explores nihilism as an artistic response to social-political upheaval, cruelty, and violence, focusing on the work of Francisco Goya (1746-1828) and William Blake (1757-1827). How have artists found form and language for a nihilistic worldview, and to what ends? How can Goya and Blake's work in various media show us nihilism's power, danger, and emancipatory potential? Anchoring our investigation is close study of works in campus collections and local museums.
Instructors: Bridget Alsdorf
Art Production, Consumption, and Collection in Ming-Qing Suzhou
Suzhou as a cultural site is the key to many broad and complicated issues regarding how art was produced and practiced in Ming-Qing China. These complexities include artistic regionalism and cosmopolitanism, the codification and edification of literati culture, the urbanization and commoditization of art, and the interrelationship of the global and the local. This seminar aims to examine Suzhou as the nexus that interweaves all of these essential threads of the Ming-Qing artworld and as the lens through which we understand this artworld as multi-faceted and multi-layered.
Instructors: Cheng-hua Wang
Textile Architecture
This seminar examines the theoretical and practical intersections between architecture and woven materials across time, focusing on three key moments: the imagined origins of architecture in a non-Western, a-historical past: textiles' place in transforming built architecture; and twentieth-century experiments in which the figure of cloth allowed for expressing ideas that often exceeded what standing material realities were then possible for architects.
Instructors: Basile Baudez
The Greek House
A study of the archaeology of the Greek house (Early Archaic huts through Hellenistic palaces). Emphasis on the close reading of archaeological sites and assemblages and the integration of literary with material evidence. Topics include the discovery of houses, the identification of farms, the integration of the house with urban plans and natural landscapes, the organization and use of space, gender, domestic economies, and religious practice. Attention devoted to social, political, and regional dynamics; to the concept of the "private" in ancient Greece; and to questioning the heuristic value of the term "house."
Instructors: Nathan Arrington