History of Art + Visual Culture


  • Spring 2015


    This course will survey the emergence of an avant-garde in the United States during and after World War II. The focus will be on the personal struggles, artistic innovation, and overarching achievement of a handful of artists including Willem De Kooning, Jackson Pollock, David Smith, Robert Motherwell and Barnett Newman, whose work catapulted American art and artists onto the world stage. Concurrently we will examine the role of public and private criticism, especially the writings of Harold Rosenberg and Clement Greenberg. Additionally we will construct a view of contemporary society and the political leanings of artists and critics of the movement, as well as the concerted effort of the American State Department to showcase Abstract Expressionist work as visible proof of American freedoms during the Cold War.
    Sophomore and above


    The course offers an introduction to the arts of several sub-Saharan African communities. We will explore the creative process and the context of specific African traditions as well as the impact of the African diaspora on the arts of other communities, particularly in the Caribbean.
    Also offered as HPSS C519. Register in the course for which credit is desired.


    This course analyzes the most commanding artists' lecture-performances of our time, focusing on the rhetorical strategies and performative gambits that contemporary artists muster in service of their public image. It is also a practical course in rhetoric, or how to give an artist's talk. In the first few classes we analyze some of the classic modernist debates around self-representation- the quandaries of talking a little or talking a lot, for example - and explore high modernist texts as Matisse's Notes of A Painter and Picasso's 1933 self-curated retrospective. The class considers a range of landmark lectures, from those of Ben Shahn to John Cage, Robert Morris and Frank Stella. The last section of the course addresses William Kentridge's lecture-performances in tandem with developing individual student's rhetorical skills, both through presentations of other artist's work and their own.


    When in the 16th century Giorgio Vasari described the life and adventures of Renaissance geniuses, together with their works, styles and ideas, art history as biography was born. Centuries after, in the 19th and 20th centuries, psychoanalysis renewed myths, enigmas and aura of the artist as a complex psychological subject. In the same decades cinema too renewed the genre of the artist biography and the documentary about his/her life and work. Until now movies always update the artist's aura, exhibit his/her 'body at work', narrate love stories, adventures and the path to celebrity.
    This course considers films about artists of different times and countries. We'll see how directors stage artists or use actors to interpret them, their aesthetics ideas and political intentions. We will explore the artists' studios, working methods, exhibit places, and listen to their interviews.We will see how the film language reframes and interprets the life and work of Caravaggio, Artemisia, Van Gogh, Picasso, Pollock, Basquiat, Warhol, Frieda Khalo, Richter, Kentridge and others, and how directors interact with artists and their media, and with us the viewers. Course works: screenings, readings, group discussions, and two papers.


    Beginning in the 1870s, an international movement to reform the design of architecture and interior furnishings took hold in America. Its proponents were on a mission to improve the aesthetics of daily life, and they waged a moral crusade that advocated the pride and honesty of hand craftsmanship and embraced the ideal of unity of design. This course addresses reform ideals in the architecture, graphics, furniture, silver, ceramics, and related interior furnishings of the Arts & Crafts Movement in America from 1875 -1920. The importance of experiencing and interpreting objects in context is emphasized through artifact study in the collections of the John Hay Library, the RISD Museum, and the Providence Art Club.


    People in Western Europe changed both the way they lived and the way they conceived and made visual culture during the 11th and 12th centuries. It was the time of castles and pilgrimages, women mystics, and liturgical drama. The rich, diverse, and inventive art produced in Western Europe during this period includes pilgrimage churches with complex sculpted facades, illuminated manuscripts, castles, isolated monasteries, narrative textiles, and Islamic pottery. This course will address the relationship between visual culture and other phenomena of the age and will require the completion of assigned readings, a research paper, and two examinations.


    This seminar will examine a series of canonical readings of contemporary art, focusing primarily on key writings published in the journal October and the magazine Artforum since 1975. We will engage in detail with such overarching critical concepts as postmodernism, neo-avant-garde, site-specificity, and relational aesthetics. We will also examine readings that draw on concepts such as the fetish, the abject, the informe, the gaze, primitivism, and postcolonialism. Finally, we will attend to issues of writerly style and method, seeking to understand the wide variety of tools that critics and art historians employ to understand, historicize, and enrich our understanding of works of contemporary art.
    Also offered as PAINT 4516 for junior painting majors


    This class provides an introduction to contemporary art theory and its philosophical underpinnings. Through critical readings in philosophy, literary theory, psychoanalysis, and art history, this course aims to familiarize students with the occasionally obscure, and sometimes blustery language of contemporary art. Each class we approach a single term: such as "fetish," "neo-avant-garde" or "relational aesthetics;" or analyze dialogic pairings like "author/authority" or "origin/originality." We examine the historical trajectories and philosophical underpinnings of these terms, charting their shifting and at times contradictory meanings. We also discuss some of the key texts of contemporary art in which these critical terms appear, and finally we consider what is at stake in the use of this critical vocabulary.


    This course examines the aesthetic systems, historical development, and cultural meanings of dress and fashion in East Asia. With an emphasis on China, Japan, and Korea during the early modern and modern eras, we will consider the uses of dress within social, cultural, economic, and political systems, and the ways in which the materiality, style and silhouettes of dress have been deployed to express, control and contend gender, class, ethnicity, nationality, and modernity. Using a broad range of sources including paintings, prints and photography, fiction and diaries, songs and movies, we will explore how art historians and cultural historians utilize these different forms of visual, textual, and material representations to reconstruct meaning. Each week we will study individual objects of dress like the qipao, hanbok, kimono, and the ways in which these "traditional" dress forms have been reinterpreted in different social and temporal contexts. We will also examine topics including fashion systems, hair-styles, foot-binding, breast-binding, technologies of dress, and the way in which East Asian dress has been understood and framed by those outside East Asian society: as collectors and connoisseurs of "ethnic dress" or "art", and later on in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as consumers of global fashions. Finally we will examine the position of East Asian fashion designers today and their complex relationships with the hegemony of Western fashion systems.


    French Surrealism played an important role in the development of 20th-century European and American art. The arrival of French Surrealists to New York during the Second World War influenced American artists and exposed more than a European audience to the movement. In this course will study French surrealist painting, literature, and cinema in the context of intellectual and philosophical currents (such as psychoanalysis). We will discuss Odilon Redon, Gustave Moreau, and Giorgio de Chirico, the precursors of the movement, Andre Breton, the author of the "Surrealist Manifesto of 1924," Dora Maar and Meret Oppenheim - unfairly considered only as "muses" at the beginning of their careers. Special focus will be put on the work by Max Ernst, Man Ray, Luis Bunuel, and Leonora Carrington.


    Registration by application only. Application is restricted to concentrators in History of Art and Visual Culture. A call for applications will be sent to all HAVC concentrators.


    Students will select one course from introductory level offerings. The choice of topics is intended to give each first-year student a chance to work with a broad but culturally and chronologically bounded field of art and design, under the teaching of an expert in that field. Students will have the opportunity to become familiar with art historical texts particular to the selected topic and will develop skills of critical reading and writing about the works of art.
    Required for graduation for all undergraduates including transfers, unless waived by the HAVC department head with the substitution of an equivalent college course.
    Course scheduled to be taken by first year students in Spring semester of freshman year. Seats for other students, such as transfers and upperclass, are available, but limited."
    Freshmen registration instructions and course descriptions can be found on the Registrar website: http://risdregistrar.wordpress.com/


    A complement to the fall semester History of Design: Antiquity to the Renaissance, this course continues the developmental trajectory of design and the decorative arts beginning in the mid-17th century with Baroque court designers and the unity of style in furnishings and interiors. Following themes will also include: the rise industrial design to serve the middle class consumer, the function of pattern books in the dissemination of taste and style, the pivotal role of expositions and World's Fairs, the inception of design schools and the search for 'good design'. Emphases will be placed on the significant contributions of individual craftsmen and designers and their firms, as well as movements and the institutions that support them, including Morris & Co., the Bauhaus, Droog and many others. Lectures will be supplemented with regular gallery visits to the RISD Museum, highlighting pieces in the collection that best characterize the ingenuity, technology, function, and aesthetic interests of their times.


    The course will examine how female painters, photographers, writers, film directors and performance artists use their bodies and elements of their biographies to build their art upon. We will watch feature and documentary films, read literary texts, study self-portraits in painting and photography. We will try to define the special attraction and therapeutic role biographic art has for women. Among the artists discussed will be: Claude Cahun, Maya Deren, Meret Oppenheim, Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo, Cindy Sherman, Marina Abramovic, Laurie Anderson, Agnes Varda, Chantal Akerman, Francesca Woodman, and others. Students will do weekly readings; will write weekly reviews of films as well as a final paper about a chosen artist. Active participation in class discussions is required.


    This course is an historical and critical study of the work of selected masters of animated film. A spectrum of animated film techniques, styles, national schools, etc., will be presented. The course will cover the period from the pre-Lumiere epoch to the end of the 1970's. The relationships between animated film and other visual art forms will also be studied.


    This course is designed to explore the relationship between sacred "texts" (including those that have been transmitted verbally for generations) and the images that are associated with them and/or inspired artists in their traditional contexts. We will look at the cultural context of sacred narratives in such communities as the Kwakwaka, the Hopi, the Maya and other Mexican communities, the Dogon, Australian traditional aboriginal groups, and other Pacific communities, time permitting. Topics will include sacred texts and landscape, sacred narratives and the notion of a person, sacred texts and contemporary arts, and other related topics. The course will require a final research project.
    Also offered as HPSS C504. Register in the course for which credit is desired.


    The main feature of Performance Art is its immediacy. As other forms of time-based art, Performance depends upon its documentation. The course explores the history of Performance Art through the media used to document it: photography, cinema, radio, books, journals, posters, objects, video, digital technologies and the Internet. The goal of the course is to show how the history of Performance Art is deeply connected with the development of mass media and technology in our society. Performance artists have been exploring mass media both as an instrument and as the content of their practice since the beginning of the Modern era. The course has an historical and theoretical approach, considering Performance Art from a wide perspective including social and cultural events at large and crossing the boundaries between visual art, design, theatre and subcultures. We will start with historical avant-gardes like Futurism and Dada up to contemporary art and activist practices like parades, flash mobs and re-enactments, passing through Action Painting, Situationism, Body Art and Relational Aesthetics.


    This seminar considers how the legacies of colonialism, and the processes of decolonization in Africa, Asia and Latin America have shaped contemporary art. We address the rhetoric of globalism through the lens of colonialism and its aftermaths, and examine the proposed relationships among various kinds of "posts" - postmodernism, postcolonialism, poststructuralism, post-history. A wide range of contemporary art, much of it from the southern hemisphere will be addressed. Readings include Said, Appiah, Bhabha, Spivak, Coetzee, Mbembe, Hardt and Negri, Bourriaud, Mirzoeff and Demos.


    From political protests of the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and Ferguson, Missouri, to recent demonstrations concerning climate change, representations of public dissent and social upheaval remain a stronghold in photography. This seminar investigates the relationship between contemporary photographic practices and social chance. By analyzing multidisciplinary texts as well as key case studies, we will explore a range of contexts including 1960s Civil Rights and women's movements, postcolonial struggles, body politics and queer liberation, war and mass migration, individual and collectivist practices, citizen photojournalism, the global justice movement, representations of violence, and shifting systems of circulation from print to social media.
    Sophomore and above


    How are we made by things that we make? How do things precede their creation and make the creator, before the brush touches the canvas, the pencil the paper, the pen the ?mayline,? the fingertips the keyboard, the eye the camera, the metal the mold, the glass the fire? This course will look at the emergence of specific instruments of art and design making from medieval parchment folios, to graphite pencil, to architectural parallel straightedge, to mechanical and then electronic scanners, CAD software and 3D printers. It would follow the conceit that the process of creation we set for production of things also organizes our sense of self and the world, even before we have produced those things, just by virtue of the goals we have set for them, the processes we have organized for their production, the tools we have gathered or invented to transform them. We will explore the argument that physical things are always already ?epistemic? things as well: organizers of knowledge and meaning; knowledge that bubbles in the cauldron of meaning under which we are continuously trying to set the flame of experiment and process in to produce our historical, social, political, cultural and personal identities. Reading will cover a wide range of topics and disciplinary areas: from historians of science looking at production of immortal cell-lines, GMO seeds and combative viruses, to artists and designers discussing production of stone carving tools and images produced by spitting blood on rocks, to art-historians talking about breeding horses to produce that ultimate paintbrush. Only serious thinkers hopelessly invested in their making (and vice versa) invited. Class attendance and participation is mandatory along with a final presentation and research paper.
    Sophomore and Above


    This course will introduce students to the various activities that take place in the Museum, both the public functions and the behind-the-scenes operations. It will also focus on the range of issues that museums in general are currently addressing such as ethics, provenance, audience, and architecture. There will be visits to storage areas with curators to understand the scope of the collection, as well as sessions on topics such as conservation, education, installation, and exhibition development. Written assignments will include preparing catalogue entries for recent acquisitions, developing gallery guides, analyzing current exhibitions and/or devising proposals for reinstallation of the permanent collection. The course is designed particularly for those students who have had little behind-the-scenes experience in museums.
    Also offered as GRAD 500G 01 with limited seating for graduate students desiring graduate seminar credit. Register in the course for which credit is desired.


    This course will explore the field of art conservation and the care of works of art. Using objects in the RISD Museum's collection, we will explore the mechanisms of deterioration and examine some of the techniques used to preserve them.
    Sophomore and above


    This experimental seminar is a space for students to explore issues in the history of art and visual culture. You may work, independent-study style, on any topic that specially interests you. Research will be done in dialogue with fellow students and a faculty facilitator. On the first day of class we will discuss topics of common interest, and develop a provisional semester plan and a list of readings. As the conversation develops over subsequent weeks, our plan may be adjusted or even completely revised. Coursework will be tailored to the needs of individual participants. This class is recommended for HAVC Concentrators. Any graduate students interested in the history of visual culture are invited to join this seminar.
    Graduate HAVC Concentrators and Graduates


    This experimental seminar is a space for students to explore issues in the history of art and visual culture. You may work, independent-study style, on any topic that specially interests you. Research will be done in dialogue with fellow students and a faculty facilitator. On the first day of class we will discuss topics of common interest, and develop a provisional semester plan and a list of readings. As the conversation develops over subsequent weeks, our plan may be adjusted or even completely revised. Coursework will be tailored to the needs of individual participants. This class is recommended for HAVC Concentrators. Any graduate students interested in the history of visual culture are invited to join this seminar.
    Juniors and above, For Graduate credit see GRAD-750G-01


    Designers and theorists have defined the domestic environment in many ways: as individual refuge, symbol of collective identity, tool for social engineering, or fashion object, as masculine or feminine, aesthetic or functional, revolutionary or oppressive. Through close study of houses, interiors, furnishings, and a range of texts, this seminar will explore multiple concepts of domesticity and ways these have informed design practice. Classes will be conducted as collaborative workshops focusing on discussion of assigned texts and analysis of images. Student research projects will investigate a contemporary work of design.
    Sophomore and above


    This course will focus on architectural buildings and remains of synagogues, churches, and mosques in Palestine from antiquity (the sixth century BCE) through the end of the Ottoman period (1917). Beyond the physical components of the houses of worship, and dealing with architectural, technological, and iconographic matters, we will investigate the spiritual and religious characteristics of the relevant structures. One of the goals will be to examine how these institutions influenced each other throughout the history of their architectural development.


    Romantic concepts about the omnipotence of nature encouraged the ideals of human equality and democracy. The Romantic search for truth, authenticity, and identity permeated empirical experience, feelings, and emotion. In this course we examine the visual expressions of Romantic ideals with particular focus on art of the 19th century. We explore how images conceptualized morality, religious thought, nationalism, and human rights, as well as the new role of the artist as public intellectual, prophet and seer. Readings from Romantic literature and a variety of contemporary texts will provide the social, intellectual and political context. The enduring influence of Romantic thought on American art and life will provide our subtext.
    Sophomore and above

    Fall 2014


    The art and architecture of ancient Mexico as well as that of selected neighboring areas, will be examined against the background of the growth of complex cultural systems. The course will consist of readings and lectures including the presentation of visual materials dealing with ancient Mesoamerica (a culture area), and the archaeological and historical research which sheds light on its development. Museum visits to RISD and Brown will allow us to become familiar with real pre-Columbian art and artifacts for a closer association to ancient cultures that produced them.
    Also offered as HPSS C735. Register in the course for which credit is desired.


    Graduate Level Students take this class as part of the Art History Concentration Program. Work with Art History Coordinator to develop Thesis


    This course examines the visual arts (painting, sculpture, photography, and prints) of the United States from the Civil War to the present in relation to key aesthetic, social, and political contexts. Course topics include: race and reconstruction, portraiture, public art spaces, Realism and the Ashcan school, Modernism and the Armory Show, the Harlem Renaissance, art and the New Deal, abstract art and the Cold War, Minimalism, art and consumer culture, Feminist art, and Postmodernism. We will study these topics against broader themes of art and national identity, issues of race and gender, shifting systems of patronage, cross cultural exchanges, and the role of popular culture. Course includes visits to the RISD Museum.
    Sophomore and above


    This course is designed to acquaint students with a variety of non-Western aesthetic expressions in the Americas and the Pacific. The course will explore the indigenous contexts, both contemporary and historical, in which these art forms are or were created and function. We will look at the art and its context in selected communities of the American northwest coast such as the Inuit, Kwakiutl and Haida, the Southwest of the US, such as the Hopi and Navajo, and parts of Australia, Papua-New Guinea and some of the Pacific islands.
    Also offered as HPSS C726. Register in the course for which credit is desired


    This seminar addresses the intersection of contemporary photographic practices and critical theory. Readings by Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, Rosalind Krauss, Martha Rosler, Fred Richtin and others will provide a theoretical framework through which to examine a range of topics including: conceptual art and photography, performance art, the documentary tradition, landscape and the body, postmodern 'anti-aesthetics' and appropriation, digital technologies, archival practices, large-scale and tableau photography as well as the institutionalization of the medium in museums, higher education, and the art market. The class is structured around group discussions and is driven by student contributions.
    Sophomore and above


    The Bronze Age saw the development of several advanced civilizations in the Mediterranean basin. Perhaps the best-known among these is the civilization of Pharaonic Egpyt. This course will focus on the art and architecture of Egypt and their neighbors to the north: the Aegean civilizations known as Cycladic, Minoan, and Mycenaean. While art historical study of these cultures will be emphasized, evidence for trade and other cultural interchange between them will also be discussed. The course will cover such topics as the Pyramids of Giza, the Tomb of Tutankhamun, and the Palace of Knossos.


    This course surveys the rich tradition of art cinema in continental Europe, emphasizing the relations between narrative and visual style. Explores: the major post-WWII movements in Italy (Neorealism), France (Nouvelle vague) and Germany (New German Cinema); their precursors in German Expressionism, the Soviet Montage school and French Poetic Realism; and the diverse range of narrative art filmmakers working in Europe today. Artists include Eisenstein, Vigo, Rossellini, Fellini, Godard, Herzog, Haneke, Akerman and Denis.
    Sophomore and above


    Registration by application only. Application is restricted to concentrators in History of Art and Visual Culture. A call for applications will be sent to all HAVC concentrators.


    Part I of a two-semester course that will survey major topics in the Histories of Photography. Emphasis will be given to the diverse cultural uses of photography from its invention to the present day. Such uses include: the illustrated press; amateur photography; studio photography; industrial, advertising, and fashion photography; political and social propaganda; educational and documentary photography; and photography as a medium of artistic expression. Much attention will be paid to how photographs construct histories, as well as being constructed by them.
    Major Required Art History credit for Photo majors
    Liberal Arts elective credit for nonmajors on a space available basis.


    This is a required course to introduce students to fundamental works of art and design from diverse cultures and chronological periods. It will use basic art historical methods of formal, stylistic, and iconographical analysis in the study of these works thereby providing students with the tools necessary for critical looking and analysis essential for the education of artists and designers. Emphasis will be placed on the relation between artifacts and culture, with the assumption that the production of works of art and design is a form of cultural knowledge, as well as on the cultural conception of the role of the artist and designer, on various techniques and materials, and on the social context of the works discussed.
    Required for graduation for all undergraduates, including transfers. There are no waivers for HAVC-H101.
    Attention transfers and upperclassmen: Please register into HAVC-H101-23, 24, or 25 if you have not yet completed this first-year graduation requirement. All other H101 sections are for freshmen only.


    This course will attempt to identify, analyze, and understand non-western architectural traditions of Native people in North America, Mesoamerica, and South America. An attempt will be made to understand both environmental and cultural components people integrated into their choices of construction materials, spatial arrangements, and in some cases urban planning. Particular emphasis will be placed on the appropriation and socialization of landscapes through architecture, and how landscape was used to express greater cultural concerns. The following cultures will be discussed: Mound Builders and the Mississippians; the Iroquois; Coastal Northwest coast cultures; the Arctic; the Southwest; the Maya; and Ancient Peru.


    Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints: studying from the originals - curating a temporary exhibition at the Print Room of the RISD Museum This art history course pursues two goals - (1) to familiarize students with ukiyo-e woodblock prints as a distinctive, vibrant and highly influential form of Japanese art, and (2) to introduce students to various academic methods employed in art history in the art museum setting. The outcome of this course will be putting together a temporary exhibition of approximately ten Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints united by a certain theme, studied and presented to the public in correspondence to the standards of today's curatorial practices. Students will decide upon the exhibition topic, formulate the title, choose the works for display, analyze visual and contextual aspects of individual prints, perform the necessary research, uncovering cultural/historical/literary connotations invariably present in this popular yet sophisticated art form, write gallery labels, develop and deliver educational materials. Within the scope of students' work will be also the general design of the display as well as graphic design involved in preparation of labels and of the educational materials for museum visitors.


    The major focus of the seminar will be on Dutch and Flemish artists who specialized in landscape in various media, and their influence on other artists across Europe.
    Students will learn about the various approaches to landscape through their own art history research, and will present their own drawings, prints or paintings as being influenced by Dutch artists' styles and formats. The class will study RISD Museum and other museum collections and use them in presentations that compare and contrast the styles of Dutch and Flemish artists with the work of other artists of the period.


    This lecture offers students an opportunity to reflect on a variety of approaches to the study of art history and visual culture. Students will be asked to think about how historians of art and visual culture have selected their objects of study, framed their questions, and voiced their arguments. Students will also consider how the discipline of art history has been constituted, its relationship to the field of visual cultural studies, and to other models of interdisciplinary.


    What is globalism, and should we be celebrating it? Can we disentangle globalism from capitalism, and what is at stake in this effort? And what happens to the specificity of the local - the base of the political - in the internationalist flows of contemporary art? Examining notions of canon, legacy, influence, discourse, history, tradition, place and displacement, this seminar maps the current state of international contemporary art. It focuses on the recent artistic, scholarly, critical and curatorial attempts to rerout the linear trajectories of late modernism. Such initiatives all aim at conceiving an expanded - or even exploded - cartography of contemporary art. What might such a map look like?


    This seminar will explore illuminated manuscripts created in Europe and Western Asia between around 300 and 1500. We will consider a variety of texts including Christian manuscripts, classical western literature, Qur'ans, histories and romances that were illuminated during this period. By looking at a series of individual manuscripts as case studies, we will consider a variety of issues including the relationship of word and image, artistic techniques, the role of the script and the creation of visual narrative.
    Sophomore and above


    Jerusalem has earned a special eminence among the famed ancient cities of the world. Its sanctity to Jews, Christians, and Moslems has made the city a focus of discussions and controversies regarding the evolving and changing identifies throughout its long urban history. Early and recent studies and discoveries, as well as old and new theories with a special emphasis on the Roman, Byzantine, and Early Islamic periods (ca. 63 BCE - 1099 CE) will be examined in the seminar. A particular focus will be placed on how to identify ethnicity, religious identity, and gender in the archaeological record. Though politics and religion have often biased related scholarship and the way excavations and their interpretations have been presented to the public, the goal of the seminar is to understand and examine various opinions and viewpoints. This seminar will consist of regular meetings, with illustrated lectures, student presentations, and discussions. In addition to the presentations, weekly reading assignments, a mid-term exam, and a final term paper will be required.
    Also offered as HPSS C729. Register in the course for which credit is desired


    How does a museum preserve its art collection? How do art and science reinforce each other in this field? Does the approach to the conservation of ancient art differ from that of the conservation of contemporary art? How and why do materials composing visual art deteriorate? Which environmental factors adversely affect organic and inorganic materials first or fastest? In this course, the student will gain an understanding for the five agents of deterioration, for issues of physical and chemical stability regarding organic and inorganic materials chosen by artists over the millennia, as well as how the care and handling of art differs in some respects for a museum than for a working artist. Frequent visits through the museum exhibits, storage, and the conservation lab will demonstrate key concepts covered in the class. Ethical issues regarding the determination of the original intent of any given artist as well as ethical issues regarding forgeries and looted art will be discussed. Assignments will focus on the RISD Art Museum's collection.
    Restricted to HAVC concentrators or MA candidates in Museum Education
    Sophomore and above


    This course explores Italian art from ca. 1350 to 1600 within a ritual framework. A ritual can be defined as a codified, solemn, event that occurs within specific temporal and spatial cadres upon occasions such as marriage, birth, death, a ruler's visit to a city ('entry'), a calamity, or a feast day. Rituals work through the display of symbolic objects [here understood as 'images'] such as statues, reliquaries, paintings, elaborate costumes, or flags for which the role of artists was primordial. The power of images resides in their ritual use: colorful paraphernalia and sacred objects flaunted in city-wide processions could ward off the plague, honor a local saint, and turn princely entries or funerals into successful events. Through their symbolic and artistic components, rituals create authority, assert identity, define social status, and maintain order in society. We will study the extant objects themselves as visual evidence for such phenomena as well as representations (in the form of paintings and prints) of ceremonies, spectacles, processions, or ritual domestic settings. We will analyze art through inter-disciplinary methodologies: material culture, anthropology, social history, and iconography. Learning about artistic conventions and traditions will guide us to evaluate to what extent works of art manipulate reality in a 're-presentation' - rather than provide a mere illustration.
    Also offered as HPSS C503. Register in the course for which credit is desired.


    This course provides an introduction to the study of visual arts in Chinese history. It will introduce the major developments and themes of Chinese visual culture, interpreted broadly to include bronzes, jades, painting, calligraphy, sculpture, textiles, printing, ceramics, and architecture. The lectures will follow a chronological and thematic course through the development of visual culture in China. We will consider how to position these objects within a historical and cultural context, with particular attention to the interactions between visual arts and gender, religion, politics, and ethnic identity. Using formal analysis, and reconstructing production processes and consumption contexts, we will learn how to describe, research, and discuss objects of Chinese visual arts. We will also explore the recirculation of these objects, both in China and abroad, and how far theories and methodologies of Western art history can be productively applied to Chinese visual culture.


    This course will examine the visual culture pertinent to Sigmund Freud and his contemporaries in turn-of-the-century Vienna. We shall look at the modernist art of Austrian painters such as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, as well as the "minor" arts of illustration, photography, scientific imaging, and film in light of Freud's psychoanalytic ideas. Classes will be devoted to topics such as avant-garde postcard design, ethnographic photography, and scientific images including x-rays and surgical films. The silent erotic "Saturn" films that were screened in Vienna from 1904-1910 will also be considered. Requirements include mid-term and final exams, two essays, and interest in the subject (no past experience needed).


    This history of architecture course, co-taught by an architectural historian and an architect, introduces key ideas, forces, and techniques that have shaped world architecture through the ages prior to the modern period. The course is based on critical categories, ranging from indigenous and vernacular architecture, to technology, culture, and representation. The lectures and discussions present systems of thought, practice and organization, emphasizing both historical and global interconnectedness, and critical architectural differences and anomalies. Each topic will be presented through case studies accompanied by relevant texts. The students will be expected to engage in the discussion groups, prepare material for these discussions, write about, and be examined on the topics.
    Major requirement: ARCH majors only
    Registration by Architecture department, course not available via web registration
    Liberal Arts elective credit for nonmajors on a space available basis.


    Interdisciplinary by their very nature, textile traditions share a global history. Around the world textiles have found place in cultures as signifiers of social identity, from the utilitarian to the sacred, as objects of ritual meaning and as objects of great tangible wealth. The evolution of textile motifs, designs, materials and technology across Asia, Africa and the Americas will be explored utilizing the RISD Museum of Art with frequent visits to the textile and costume collections. We will examine such topics as: the function of textiles in the survival of traditional cultures, the impact of historic trade routes and ensuing colonialism, industrialization and its subsequent effect on traditional techniques of textile manufacture. Students will also have opportunity to examine various methods of textile display, analysis and storage appropriate to items of cultural heritage via case studies of specific objects in the RISD Museum.

    Wintersession 2015


    Printmakers as well as many other artists use paper as one of their main materials, yet have little opportunity to learn much about this material: its history, how it is made, and the materials that go into its production. In their sophomore year as print majors, RISD students study Japanese woodblock printing techniques in depth, a technology dependent on Japanese papers and their specific qualities. Other artists and designers habitually use fine quality Japanese washi for a wide variety of applications. This course will introduce RISD students not only to the traditions and history of Japanese paper and the corresponding tradition of printmaking, but also to paper fabrication through a two week workshop at a traditional paper manufacturer.
    The class will then proceed to Kyoto for a three week stay to study in depth the historical sites and artistic collections of Kyoto, Nara and Osaka, with an overnight trip to study the art and architecture of the mountain monastery village of Koya San for an in depth appreciation of the continuing importance to Japanese art and culture.
    Register for PRINT-4525 and you will be added to this Art History class by the Registrar
    Permission of Instructor required
    Registration begins on October 10 and ends on Wednesday, October 31, 2012.
    Travel cost: $3,596.00
    ***Off-Campus Study***


    Alexander the Great is one of the most significant figures in ancient history, and the culturally diverse empire he created gave birth to new trends in art characterized by hybrid styles and innovative new kinds of artistic propaganda. The study of the place of art in such a multicultural society has implications for the interpretation of art's role in the modern world. This course will discuss the way Alexander and his successors controlled their image in art and the styles of sculpture, painting, architecture, and urban planning that were precipitated by the socio-political changes brought about by his conquests.


    In European and American art of the 19th and early 20th centuries, women were often presented in extreme ways: either as blood-thirsty creatures from Greek mythology, as Salome obsessed with the decapitation of a lover, as poison flowers and vamps; or as personifications of love and virtue, household angels, noble virgins dying out of self-sacrifice. The literature and, later, cinema supported this dichotomy that can be still traced in contemporary culture. In this course we will analyze the images of blessed and cursed women in Western art of the last two centuries.


    How are works of art reproduced (or re-presented) in photography and film? From the first photographs of the Sistine Chapel to the "mysteries" of Picasso drawing in film, this course will investigate the photography of art and artists in terms of the production of knowledge and meaning. We shall see that even the most "objective" documentary photographs of art are critical interventions that address the avid eye of the beholder. For example, Clarence Kennedy's photographs of the works of Renaissance sculptor Desiderio da Settignano has shaped our notion of Desiderio to this day, and Constantin Brancusi deliberately reworked his sculpture in the medium of photography in his own studio, forming a seamless modernist synthesis of authorship and form. Films about art and artists have attempted to show us the mind's eye of painterly painters such as Vincent Van Gogh and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Brassaï's photographs of Matisse with his models have (for decades now) appeared as regular features on the pages of Vogue. In our RISD studios, as elsewhere in the world, photography now serves as the visual record (sometimes the only record) of installations, performance art, and postmodern sculptural interventions. We shall discuss images and writings on a daily basis. Students will craft essays on pertinent themes.


    This course studies Italian visual culture and politics - issues of landscape, architecture, painting, history, and fashion - in some major Italian filmmakers who have been labeled with art historical and aesthetic terms:'ealist' Rossellini, 'baroque' Fellini, 'modernist' Antonioni, 'mannerist' or 'avant-garde' Pasolini, 'theatrical' Visconti, 'spectacular' Bertolucci, and 'essayist' Moretti. Like 'phantoms of beauty' (a term used by the Italian film critic Guido Fink), images, aesthetic issues and styles from art history, politics and media have consciously inspired or deeply haunted the works of these authors. Film critics have analyzed their idiosyncratic and avant-garde fusion of aesthetics and politics in debates which have established their ongoing international status of 'masters of the art film' from the 1940's to the 1990's and beyond. We will study some of these films as constructions of the modern Italian identity and visual culture for a national and international audience. Requirements: Weekly group discussions on readings, one final paper.


    This course will examine scientific and technical applications developed by Western artists and visual theorists from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century. Concentrating on pictorial traditions, the course will address what artists, authors and artist/engineers have referred to as scientific, technical, mechanical, and purely mental solutions to optical, proportional and quantitative visual problems. General themes will be perspective, form, color, and mechanical devices, and will include discussions on intellectual training, notebooks, treatises, and collecting. The course will examine artists such as Masaccio, Leonardo, Piero della Francesca, D|rer, Serlio, Carlo Urbino, Cigoli, Rubens, Vel`zquez, Saenredam, Vermeer, Poussin, Andrea Pozzo, Canaletto, Phillip Otto Runge,Turner, Delacroix, Monet, and Seurat.


    This course will focus on the history of self-portraiture and modes of self-identity from the vantage point of feminism, queer theory, and of post-modernist critiques of the so-called author function. We will look closely at self-portraits by artists ranging from Rembrandt van Rijn to Cindy Sherman, and from Albrecht Durer to David Wojnarowicz. Students will be asked to write about artists' self-portraits and also construct their own written and visual autobiographies. We will read memoirs by artists, as well as essays by Barthes, Foucault, and Krauss.


    This course will investigate the visual arts and culture of India over a period of 4000 years. Students will participate in a study of the various kinds of works to be considered in terms of form, function and "cognitive style" of the beholder. We shall also look behind the scenes at displays and visual documentation as signs of current thinking about what Indian art, past and present, may be. The class will visit the RISD Museum to view the current display of South Asian objects as well as meet curators engaged in studying and displaying the material and visual culture of India.


    This course will examine art in Russia and the USSR from the October Revolution in 1917 to the death of Stalin in 1953 in the context of historical events and changing ideological climate.
    After the October Revolution, art and film in Russia and later the USSR became a field of unprecedented experimentation that gave birth to many groundbreaking works by artists and filmmakers such as Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin, Alexandr Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanowa, the Stenberg Brothers, Sergei Eisenstein, Vsevolod Pudovkin, and others. The introduction of Socialist Realism by Stalin in the 1930s terminated the Avant-Garde in the country and forced artists to become basically producers of propaganda. Despite this, a number of significant works, especially films, subverted ideological limitations.


    This seminar develops a historical and theoretical framework for understanding issues in the design and experience of exhibition spaces. Students will examine case studies past and present, including private collections, public museums, world's fairs, trade fairs, and retail environments. Discussions will engage with issues including architecture and interior design, visual strategies of display, ordering of objects, presentation of narratives, and political, social, and economic motivations. Class sessions will combine short lectures with intensive reading discussions and analysis of images. Visits to sites in and around Providence are also possible. Instruction in the two courses will be closely integrated. Students will be asked to reflect on their studio work to analyze historical material, as well as to draw on historical ideas to inform studio projects.
    Senior and Graduate Level
    This seminar is offered as one half of a six-credit collaboration with the studio course INTAR-7013-01 Introduction to Design for Museums and Exhibitions taught by Brian Kernaghan. Students must enroll in both courses.
    This course will not be available via WebAdvisor. Register for INTAR-7013-01 and you will be automatically be added to this Liberal Arts class by the Registrar.


    This class will survey The Grand Tour - a cultural pilgrimage through France and Italy made by young British men and women during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Grand Tour was designed to provide a liberal education to budding aristocrats by introducing them to continental language, music, art and architecture (ancient, Renaissance and Baroque), and to the sophisticated mores of fashionable society. The Grand Tour also opened up new markets and opportunities for artists in their native cities and abroad. Grand Tourists returned home with crates of pictures, books, sculpture and decorative objects which would be exhibited in libraries, cabinets, gardens and drawing rooms, as well as in galleries built for their display. In this course, we will begin our journey in London and follow Grand Tourists on their travels through Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples and Pompeii, and examine the work of artists such as Canaletto, Batoni, Piranesi, Canova, Mengs, Angelica Kauffman, Robert Adam, and Hubert Robert.


    During this seminar we will discuss how America is seen by contemporary European artists and intellectuals. Jean Baudrillard's famous book "America" as well as films by Antonioni ("Zabriskie Point"), Makaveyev ("WR: Mysteries of the Organism") and Herzog ("Stroszek") will number among the works analyzed in the class.


    This course will examine the role played by urban mythology in 19th and 20th - century European and American art. We will study the late - 19th - century idea of the flaneur, which influenced both visual arts and literature. We will discuss the Futurists' fascination with machines and the Surrealists' concept of a city perceived as a human body. We will analyse the Impressionists' views of Parisian streets, Frans Masereel's woodcuts The City, de Giorgio Chirico's metaphysical paintings and Edward Hopper's nostalgic images of the American metropolis. We will study how the interest in urban reality has influenced the development of new art movements of the last two centuries.


    This course will focus on the ways in which Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgender people have help shape American modernism and post-modernism. Each class will focus on a key artistic community such as Stein's salon, the Kirstein circle, Warhol's factory, and the Woman's Building. Artists discussed will include Brooks, Cadmus, Corinne, Duchamp, Hammond, Kass, Ligon, Mapplethorpe, Martin, and Opie. We will read writings by Butler, Foucault, Sedgwick, and Sontag, with particular focus on concepts of the closet, camp, and gender performativity.


    The course will explore the representation of the female form in Indian art. We will focus on specific topics and periods. While inter-disciplinary in its use of certain ancient texts and modern writings, the emphasis will be on representations of women in India's visual culture. The visual material will be placed within its specific socio-economic, historical, religious and artistic milieu. Students will be assigned tasks of presenting prepared talks throughout the session. The class will visit the RISD Museum to view the current display as well as meet curators engaged in studying and displaying the material and visual culture of India.