Graduate Courses

ARH 5005: Ana Mendieta

A seminar examining the artistic and political performativity of the Cuban-American artist Ana Mendieta, who redefined what it means to be an “American” artist through her practice and activism. Mendieta’s formal innovation, autobiographical and political narratives, and efforts toward forging a new sense of “Third World” collectivity are among the topics explored.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5006: Investigating Normal

Explores ideas of the “normal” and “non-normal” in art and design today. Through readings, guest speakers, and projects, the class investigates both traditional and unusual depictions of bodies, race, and gender, along with the art and design practices developed in order to represent and understand them.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5010: The Avant-Gardes

Since the 1800s, the avant-gardes have tried to resist the delimited role of fine art in Western culture. In this course, students examine the strategies that avant-garde artists have used to reconnect their art practice with the more contentious areas of social and political life.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5015: Contemporary Art and the Sublime

Examines the resurgence, or persistence, in recent art of the sublime: an experience of overwhelming grandeur. Why have contemporary artists (Matthew Barney, Edward Burtynsky, Tacita Dean, Olafur Eliasson, Andreas Gursky, Bill Viola, and others) turned to an 18th-century aesthetic theory in order to address the pressing issues of our time: climate change, the expansion of technology, and economic globalization?

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5030: Exhibition Seminar

In this seminar, students and the instructor co-curate an exhibition for the Neuberger Museum of Art. The class works on all aspects of the exhibition with the instructor and museum staff. Students learn about the various functions of departments, including curatorial, education, exhibition design, development, and public relations, putting exhibition theory into practice. Exhibition topics vary.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5035: Museology

An investigation of the historical development and function of museums. Students examine the growth of collections and exhibitions, along with the various roles that museums have played in relation to art history and society around the world. Central to this course and its final project is the question: “What should a museum be in the 21st century?”

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5037: Critical Curatorial Studies

A rigorous examination of the historical, theoretical, and concrete concerns of curatorial practice. Course-work culminates in a complete exhibition proposal.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5040: Obscenity and Censorship in Contemporary Art

Considers the validity of obscene imagery—eroticism, violence, scatology, racism, and hate speech—in recent artistic practice. Students investigate the struggle to define the terms “art” and “obscenity” and the efforts to censor such art. What are the artistic, critical, and political effects of engaging with obscenity? What are the motivations and effects of attempting to censor it?

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5060: History of the Art Market

Since the 1990s, the art market has become integral to an understanding of contemporary art practices. This course introduces the economic foundation of the art market and the practices of participants. The focus is on the history of the primary market, where new works of art produced “on spec” are introduced to the public in a retail setting.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5101: Proseminar: Method and Theory in Art History

The major theoretical orientations and methodologies associated with art historical study are discussed and critiqued. Methods reviewed range from connoisseurship to the iconographical and social-historical. Theories surveyed include formalist, Marxist, literary, feminist, psychoanalytic, and new-historicist concerns that dominated 20th-century interpretative practice. Required for MA students.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5105: Aesthetics and Politics

The relationship between artistic practice and the social realm is addressed, with emphasis on the development of the avant-garde in the 19th and 20th centuries, the role of artists in contemporary political discourse, and the theoretical discourse that constitutes the larger debate on these issues.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5107: Flash-points, Fiascos, and Freak-outs: Art and Controversy, 1863-Present

How and why do certain artworks become embroiled in major public debates, political scandals, and legal disputes? Beginning with the 1863 Salon des Refusés and continuing to the present day through an itinerary that travels the globe, students will examine the role of controversy in defining art, society, and how we imagine the relationship between the two.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5120: The Invisible Seventies

The 1970s are often thought about in frivolous terms, as the decade of disco and bell-bottoms. In art, this period is often overshadowed by the radical avant-gardes of the 1960s and new developments in art during the 1980s. This seminar reconsiders the art and culture of the ’70s in the context of social and political currents of the period.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5125: Minimalisms

Drawing on both contemporary artists’ and critics’ writings and recent historical accounts, students consider minimalist art of the 1960s as a well-defined movement comprising a specific group of artists, versus “minimalism” as a diffuse tendency appearing in sculpture, painting, film, music, and dance. The relationship of minimalism to subsequent practices—postminimalism, process and land art, and conceptualism—is also explored.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5130: Contemporary African-American Art: East Coast-West Coast

African-American artistic trends since 1968 are examined by using the binary of East Coast-West Coast as appropriated from hip-hop culture, particularly in Los Angeles, Oakland, and New York. Both the limits of hip-hop aesthetics in the visual arts and the limits of thinking about “black aesthetics” as a stable or quantifiable style are tested.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5135: Dada and the Readymade

This seminar focuses on the inception of the “readymade” and the abandonment of traditional forms of painting in the work of Marcel Duchamp, as well as the later development of readymade practices in the context of New York and Paris Dada. The history of the readymade as an artistic strategy is traced.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5145: Collections Research

A graduate-level independent study based on objects in the Neuberger Museum of Art. Students undertake independent research projects on works in the museum’s collection, investigating issues of documentation, provenance, condition, and interpretation.

Credits: 3

Department: Art History
ARH 5150: Craft Revivals

Examines the relationship between the traditional crafts and the upheavals of modernity. Beginning with the Arts and Crafts movement in the 19th century and continuing to the present day, students explore how craft is framed as protest against industrialization, as utopian model of labor and exchange, and as aesthetic transformation.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5161: American Art to 1913

Surveys American painting, sculpture, decorative arts, and architecture until the opening of the Armory Show in 1913. The course explores the distinctiveness of the American art tradition.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5171: African American Art

A study of African American painting, sculpture, architecture, prints, drawings, photography, film, and vernacular and popular art. The course begins with the Afro-Atlantic era and covers images made by Southern artists in the 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as artists associated with the “New Negro” movement, the Harlem Renaissance, the civil rights movement, and postmodernism.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5177: Contemporary African Art

A study of artists and exhibitions from and about Africa, spanning a wide variety of traditional and new media. Important exhibitions like The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945–1994 (2001) and Looking Both Ways: Art of the Contemporary African Diaspora (2004) are analyzed. Themes include framing “Africa,” African identities, memory and place, and popular culture.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5187: Women Artists in the 20th Century

Focuses on women artists and their place within the art-historical narrative of the 20th century. Students examine both the diverse practices of women artists and the reception of their work by critics, dealers, and collectors.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5190: History of Photography

An introduction to a wide range of photographic practices, from the medium’s conception in the 19th century to the ubiquitous online photo-sharing of today. Lectures have a special focus on the major artistic developments of photography. Topics include the significance of vernacular practices and their historical contexts in different parts of the world.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5193: 20th-Century Photography

Examines the history of photography within both the historical and the neo-avant-gardes. Special attention is given to photographic activities of the Weimar Republic, the Soviet avant-garde, surrealism, and American pictorialism, modernism, and FSA documentary work, as well as the postwar formations of the New York School, conceptual art, and photographic postmodernism.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5215: Photography: The First Century

Examines the photographic medium from its earliest forms through the 1920s and 1930s. Topics include technical innovations, manipulations and interventions, function and reception, the relationship to the fine arts, and debates about photography’s claims of realism.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5225: Theories of Painting

Painting has long been accompanied by theories describing its abilities to attract, deceive, and even harm. This course looks at key theories and debates in the history of the medium (e.g., Rubenistes vs. Poussinistes, painting’s role among pluralistic practices) to better understand how both making and seeing a painting are colored by a history of ideas.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5250: The Russian Avant-Garde

Despite a growing interest in the work of the Russian avant-garde, there is still relatively little known about the artists of the late Russian Empire and the early Soviet Union. This course addresses the broad scope and multidisciplinary practice of Russian modernism, from the shocking primitivism of The Rite of Spring to the cold pragmatism of constructivism.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5285: Design and Culture

Design is both a noun and a verb. This course deals with the idea of design as a cultural phenomenon and a creative practice. Contemporary design and its making are situated within a broad methodological framework, drawing from existing and emerging theories in anthropology, art history, film studies, criticism, the history of technology, and architecture.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5300: Theorizing Design

Why design? Why consume? What is desire? Are you what you make? Are you what you consume? How does design communicate? Design is a complex activity that touches on fields as diverse as psychoanalysis and anthropology. This course provides a theoretical understanding of design practice, production, and use (consumption). Topics include graphic and digital design, furniture, architecture, and industrial design.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5325: Master’s Colloquium I: History and Theory of Modern Art

A seminar that considers topics and theoretical models that inform students’ understanding of modern and contemporary art. Within this framework, critics, art historians, and artists are invited to give lectures and lead seminars on their particular research interests. Required for MA students.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5326: Master’s Colloquium II: Critical Issues in Contemporary Art

A directed investigation of a specific set of issues in contemporary art and culture. The focus, which changes from year to year, introduces students to critical and theoretical models central to contemporary cultural analysis. Invited artists, art historians, and critics participate through individual lectures, seminars, or directed collaborations with students. Required for MA students.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5335: Latin American Art in the Age of Globalization

Focuses on contemporary Latin American artists working in and out of Latin America: Gabriel Orozco, Guillermo Gomez Peña, Adriana Varejao, Teresa Margolles, Carlos Garaicoa, Betsabeé Romero, Javier Tellez, Nadín Ospina, Tania Bruguera, and Nicolás de Jesus. Students analyze the way these artists address such questions as urban violence, social inequality, pollution, emigration, and national identity.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5340: American Art and Architecture in the Age of the Machine

Focuses on objects and movements influenced by industrialization and mechanization in the U.S. between 1900 and 1940. Topics include the rise of the skyscraper in American architecture and its effect on painters and printmakers, the advent of the automobile and the assembly line’s replacement of the factory worker, and Dada’s expression of the havoc wreaked during World War I by new machine-age technology.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5395: Land Art

Considers the art movement referred to as land art (or, alternatively, as environmental art) that developed in the late 1960s out of the sculptural and process arts phenomena. Artists central and peripheral to the discourse on this movement are discussed. The time frame explored extends from the 1960s to the global contemporary and DIY sustainability art movements.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5400: Modern Architecture

Explores the interplay between technological innovations and stylistic trends in European and American architecture (1800–1980s). Special emphasis is placed on the contributions of major architects like Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5405: Design History and Theory: 1750–Today

Examines the history of design as it parallels the history of technology and industrialization. Covering a variety of design disciplines, including architecture and urban planning, graphic design, fashion, and industrial design, this course focuses less on aesthetics than on the cultural programs that have shaped buildings, objects, and communication systems for more than two centuries.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5445: Seminar: Rauschenberg

The work of Robert Rauschenberg is examined in the context of postwar neo-avant-garde activities in the U.S. and in relation to the work of contemporaries like Jasper Johns and John Cage. Students also review recent theoretical debates about the meaning and significance of the artist’s work.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5460: Field Trips to New York Museums and Galleries

A practical course in art criticism, which meets regularly in New York. Contemporary works of art form the basis for lectures, discussions, and written essays

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5507: The Fictional Visual Arts

Examines a selection of poetry, short stories, novels, and films from different historical periods that foreground the visual arts through various means, including the character of the artist, the practices of art, the nature of creativity, and the critical reception of art.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5510: 19th-Century Art

European art from the French Revolution to 1900, with movements in France, Germany, and England receiving particular attention. Major artists studied include David, Gericault, Delacroix, Ingres, Frederich, Constable, Turner, the Pre-Raphaelites, Daumier, Manet, Degas, Monet, and Gauguin.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5526: Art and/as Performance

Examines the development of performance and body-oriented work as a major mainstream in contemporary art practice, beginning with the work of Fluxus and happenings and continuing to the present.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5530: New Media and Contemporary Art

An examination of contemporary art outside of the traditional media of painting, sculpture, and architecture. Looking at painting-based performances of the 1950s, feminist body art, guerrilla television, and current political interventions based in digital media, students identify the strategies artists used to create new forms, and assess their success in modifying our understanding of the world.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5560: African Photography

Examines photography as a medium used by European colonizers and its subsequent use by Africans for self-definition and liberation. Topics include early studio photography, photographs in cultural outlets like the Nigerian edition of Drum magazine, photography during the apartheid era, and contemporary work. The political and stylistic aspects of portrait, documentary, ethnographic, pop, and abstract images are considered.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5565: Photography in Africa and the African Diaspora

From photography’s 19th-century origins to contemporary practices, this survey course explores how and why photography became central to arguments about the modernity of African visual art. Moving from one regional focus to the next, students examine photography’s role in expeditionary and ethnographic projects, identity formation, political activism, spirituality, documenting the landscape, and representing the fantastical and the everyday.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5570: Creativity, Genius, and the Renaissance Artist and Architect

A critical examination of the concepts of creativity and the artist genius in the era of Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, and Gentileschi. Artist biographies are compared with art historical evidence, including painting, sculpture, architecture and other media, to explore the historical contexts of Renaissance art creation. Topics include self-portraiture, women artists, workshop practices, and the artist’s and architect’s differing connections to fabrication.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5590: Pre-Columbian Aesthetics in Modern Latin American Art

Since the late 1800s, pre-Columbian art and history have inspired Latin American artists. This course investigates that phenomenon through an in-depth study of the work of individual artists, including Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, as well as more contemporary figures. Students are also introduced to pre-Columbian art and architecture.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5604: Madness and Modernism

A variety of intersections between extreme mental conditions and the production of works of art during the modern period are investigated. Topics include connections between creativity and mental instability, artists with a history of mental disorder, and theories about stylistic or formal affinities between madness and art.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5620: Van Gogh in Context

Although Vincent van Gogh is one of the world’s best-known and most beloved artists, his work is often reduced to simplistic notions of madness and genius. This course expands students’ understanding of the artist by exploring his connection to the contemporary contexts of mechanical reproduction, national identity, and urban culture.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5650: 20th-Century Sculpture

Conceptions of what sculpture can be were radically transformed over the course of the 20th century. This course presents a survey of 20th-century sculpture, with emphasis on innovative materials and techniques, the changing relationship between viewer and object, and new modes of exhibition. The work of Duchamp, Bourgeois, Calder, Judd, Hesse, and Smithson, among others, is discussed.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5660: Utopian Architecture

Emerging from a longstanding literary tradition, examples of utopian architecture give insight into the ideals and fears of the cultures that produced them. This course explores both utopian and dystopian architectural visions, beginning with the Enlightenment works of Ledoux and Boullée and ending with the paper projects of 1960s groups like Archigram and Superstudio.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5670: Postwar Art in Europe

If the postwar period famously represented the ascendency of American art, what art forms emerged simultaneously in traditional European centers? This course examines seemingly antithetical practices in France, Italy, Germany, and elsewhere: Art Informel, nouveau réalisme (new realism), Arte Povera, neoexpressionist painting, body art, conceptualism, Young British Art, etc. How has the changing European political landscape affected art and its institutions?

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5700: Exoticism in Modern Art

Explores reciprocal influences of Western and non-Western art in the modern period. Topics include diverse artistic movements like “Orientalism,” “Japonisme,” and “Primitivism.” The class also examines the impact of non-Western art on specific artists, including Delacroix, Manet, Whistler, Picasso, and Pollock.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5705: Art and History After 1989

This seminar focuses on uses of history—as both subject and method—in art around the turn of the 21st century. Within a globally comparative frame, students investigate contemporary theories and practices that take stock of the past in order to reimagine the future at a moment when the world seems simultaneously more connected and more fractured than ever before.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5711: Artists on Art

An examination of critical and theoretical writing by artists about art. The course considers texts from various eras, but focuses primarily on 20th-century and contemporary material. Artists’ writings are analyzed in the context of art criticism as a whole, and students also have the opportunity try their hand at criticism.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5715: Collect, Display, Exchange

This seminar delves into the historical, theoretical, and practical aspects of museum and exhibition practices in the U.S., from encyclopedic museums to storefront galleries. In addition to classroom discussion, students visit arts institutions in the area to consider collection and exhibition-related issues and to learn more about the operational function and structure of museums.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5755: Pop Art and Mass Culture

In this historical approach to Pop art, the evolving relationship between mass culture and the visual arts is surveyed, from the development of “modern life” painting in France in the late 19th century to the development of Pop in Britain and the U.S. in the mid-20th century. The legacy of Pop is examined in politically oriented practices of the 1970s and in post-Pop tendencies in contemporary art.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5770: African Art and Film

African art and visual culture are considered in the context of African film. African youth, who make up most of the continent’s population, have had a marked effect on many sociopolitical phenomena. The films screened address African youth culture and such issues as the new independence (1960s), post-apartheid South Africa, youth rebels, religious fundamentalism, HIV, hip-hop and digital culture, and global emigration.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5775: Performance Art in the West African Diaspora

An analysis of the roots and reinvigorations of West African performance art featuring the artist’s body, with emphasis on manifestations in Europe, the United States, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and especially Afro-Brazil. Topics include griot styles; contemporary African fashions and pop culture; and musical call and response as adapted for dance, sculpture, painting, film, fashion, and photography.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5815: Mexican Art From the Revolution to the NAFTA Era

A broad look at modern and contemporary Mexican art, using an interdisciplinary and comparative approach. Special emphasis is on the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920) and its aftermath throughout the 20th century. Students analyze links between the visual arts (including mural painting, prints, and photography) and the literature, the popular scene and the mainstream, the street art and the gallery art.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5990: Master's Thesis I

Supervision of research and writing of the master’s thesis. ARH 5990 and 5991 must be taken in consecutive semesters.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History
ARH 5991: Master's Thesis II

Supervision of research and writing of the master’s thesis. ARH 5990 and 5991 must be taken in consecutive semesters.

Credits: 4

Department: Art History

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