Fall 2015 Graduate Courses

This is a preliminary list of courses. Check back for changes and additional courses.


Bridge Lectures

Bridge lectures are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. They do not require an application.

AHIS W4048 Mesoamerican Art and Architecture 
A. Gannaway
T/R 11:40-12:55, 612 Schermerhorn Hall 
The arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the Americas during the first half of the 16th century precipitated the collapse of the famously powerful and sophisticated Aztec Empire. Having been preceded by thousands of years of rich cultural development, this impressive pre-Columbian society was but one of many that thrived in ancient Mesoamerica, a region comprised of present-day Mexico and northern Central America. This course surveys the diversity of artistic and architectural traditions that arose in this area during the period before European contact. Emphasis will be placed on the way in which selected works operated in their original social contexts through exploration of the aesthetic strategies, materials and technologies employed in their creation, as well as the wide range of interdisciplinary methodologies art historians use to arrive at these conclusions. Some aspects of the post-conquest legacy of ancient Mesoamerican art will also be considered via its representation in modern art and popular culture.

AHIS W4144 Artistic Interactions: Europe and the "Orient" (711-1517)
A. Shalem
M/W 1:10-2:25, 612 Schermerhorn (NEW DAY/TIME)
With the Muslim expansion into the Mediterranean Basin, the capture of the Iberian Peninsula in 711, and, later on, the conquest of Sicily and South Italy by the very beginning of the 9th century, the Christian Latin West came into direct contacts with the new Muslim Empire. Moreover, diplomacy between the Carolingian and the Ottonian courts with potent Muslim powers in Baghdad and Cordoba, wars and conflicts in the age of Crusade, and extensive trade ventures between western Europe and the “Orient” in the High Middle Ages brought about a new aesthetic common language – a sort of artistic lingua franca – that strongly shaped the art of Christian Europe and that of the Muslim world, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. In this series of lectures the artistic interactions between Europe and the world of Islam will be chronologically discussed. In addition, contact zones, such as important trade centers, and particular frontier regions located on the verges of the Christian and Muslim worlds will be highlighted as the major interactive spaces for artistic exchanges and mobility of people and objects.

AHIS W4848 Neo-Dada and Pop Art
B. Joseph
TR 4:10-5:25, Location TBA 
This course examines the avant-garde art of the fifties and sixties, including assemblage, happenings, pop art, Fluxus, and artists' forays into film. It will examine the historical precedents of artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Allan Kaprow, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Carolee Schneemann and others in relation to their historical precedents, development, critical and political aspects.

Bridge Seminars

Bridge seminars are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. As with other seminars, they require an application. Applications can be submitted to Amanda Young in the department office (826 Schermerhorn Hall) The required application form can be found on the planning sheets and forms page.

Bridge seminars will count towards seminar credit for majors.

Application Deadline: Monday, August 3rd

AHIS G4136 What's the Matter? Reading Medieval and Early Modern Sources on Materiality and the Making of Artifacts
A. Shalem
T 6:10-8pm, 930 Schermerhorn
This graduate level seminar focuses on specific medieval and early modern sources, mainly translations of Arabic sources, on materials and the making of objects in the world of Islam. It will cover issues concerning the making and shaping of precious stones and precious materials into objects of art, the working with particular materials such as glass and rock crystals, and even the making of copies and fakes. In addition, other materials like metalwork, lacquer and ceramics will be also addressed. Students will be asked to read and discuss in each of the meetings a specific tractate, which usually focuses on one particular material. The text will be critically discussed with aiming at thinking beyond the text’s informative values and mainly trying to embed it within a wider context of the human knowledge of materials techniques in the pre- and early modern era.

AHIS G4213 Greek Art and Architecture Seen Through the Eyes of Pausanias
I. Mylonopoulos
T  4:10-6 pm, 934 Schermerhorn (NEW DAY/TIME)
There can be no doubt that Pausanias’ work, his ten books on Greece, is among the most important sources for the understanding of ancient Greek art and architecture. Modern scholarship has viewed Pausanias as an intellectual traveler, an antiquarian, an art historian or a historian of religion. His work has been called pedestrian, accurate but unimaginative, naïve, descriptive, and even the product of ekphrasis. However one would like to appreciate Pausanias, Classical archaeology and art history heavily must depend on him, since the vast majority of works of art and architecture that he describes/mentions are either entirely lost or badly preserved. The bridge seminar will attempt to bring together Pausanias’ text and the results of art historical and archaeological research in major Greek cities and sanctuaries. Despite Pausanias’ obvious interest in all things “ancient” and “Greek,” the seminar will attempt to understand the ancient traveller as a Greek from Asia Minor who wrote his work within the political, social, and intellectual frame of second-century Roman Empire. Ultimately, the seminar will seek to understand the art, architecture, and topography of Greek cities and sanctuaries through the eyes of a Roman.

AHIS G4264 Etruscan Art
F. de Angelis
W 6:10-8pm, 930 Schermerhorn
The Etruscans are primarily known to us through the artifacts they produced and used. Consequently, the study of their art provides a unique access key to their civilization. From the Villanovan period in the 9th c. BCE down to the end of the Hellenistic age in the 1st c. BCE, this seminar will examine all major historical developments of Etruscan art with a special focus on crucial issues such as the relationship between art and craftsmanship, issues of stylistic periodization, the special link to Greek art, the contexts and functions of Etruscan art, the social, political, and religious embeddednes of Etruscan artifacts, Etruscan notions of the body, divine anthropomorphism, gender issues, the modern historiography of Etruscan art and its intellectual backgrounds. Particular attention will be devoted to Otto Brendel, one of the great protagonists of the study of Etruscan art, who taught at Columbia from 1956 to 1973.

The aim of the seminar is twofold. In the first place, it is meant to provide a systematic overview of the history of Etruscan art and artisanship and make participants acquainted with the variety of genres and artifact typologies that characterize it—from terracotta architectural sculptures to wall paintings in tombs, and from votive figures to engraved mirrors. At the same time participants, by engaging in formal analyses of representative selections of Etruscan works and monuments, will learn how to retrieve historical information starting from a close observation of the object.

Graduate Lectures

Graduate lectures are open to graduate students only. Interested undergraduates should contact the instructor for permission if interested.

AHIS G6523 Foucault and the Arts
J. Rajchman
W 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn
We will explore the work of Michel Foucault in its relations with visual art, its criticism and its history. We examine the development of his historical work, his critical aims, and his methods in and through their relations with the visual arts and art institutions: first, through his own criticism or analysis of Raymond Roussel, Manet, Velasquez, and Magritte, and views on the museum; then through his invention of new sorts of archival work, fictions and other documentary forms, and finally through his reflections on the question of artistic work as a 'technique of subjectivisation' or as 'critical act of enlightenment'. We then consider attempts to extend these aspects of his work today in new ways or in relation to new problems.

AHIS G6695 Vanguard Screens
N. Elcott and R. Krauss
T 2:10-4, 612 Schermerhorn
Film and video have remade the history of twentieth century art. In this co-taught graduate lecture, Professors Krauss and Elcott will provide a punctual survey of the major trends and figures in avant-garde art and film. Topics include abstraction, Surrealism, documentary, the essay film, Brakhage, Lettrism, Godard, video art, structural film, Expanded Cinema, and the recent art of projection. Each session will include a screening, lecture, and discussion. Readings are culled from historical sources, foundational scholarship, and recent publications.

Graduate Seminars

Seminars require an application and admission is at the instructor's discretion. Applications can be submitted to Chris Newsome in the department office (826 Schermerhorn Hall). The required application form can be found on the planning sheets and forms page.

Application Deadline: Monday, August 3rd

AHIS G8134 Rimpa
M. McKelway
W 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn
The seminar will explore the arts practiced by Tawaraya Sōtatsu (d. ca. 1640), Ogata Kōrin (1658-1716), and Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1828). Variously considered as constituting a "decorative" or "revivalist" movement in Japanese art, the artists now commonly grouped under the "Rimpa" (school of Kōrin) rubric appear to have been deeply concerned with Chinese painting, classical literature, and haikai poetry. Without the blood ties that forged bonds among other lineages of artists and artisans in Japan, what made the movement later named "Rimpa" so durable? Major texts, such as the seminal essays by Yamane Yūzō, will be read alongside primary documents. Students in the course will be expected to write a research paper related to works examined in public and private institutions in the seminar, and should have a reading command of modern and classical Japanese, or classical Chinese.

AHIS G8080 "Primitivism" — From Europe to Africa and Back Again
Z. Strother
W 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn
Is Jean-Loup Amselle correct in arguing that primitivism "lies at the core of postmodernity"? This seminar examines the legacy of several generations of European "primitivism" for contemporary artistic practice in Africa. For example, we will closely analyze Picasso's relationship with African art but also how artists and critics in Senegal, Congo, and Tanzania have responded to Picasso. Case studies include: Gauguin; Carl Einstein; Kandinsky & Russian primitivism; blackface minstrelsy as it travels from the U.S. to Ghana; Leni Riefenstahl; Senegalese Negritude; and a selection of prominent exhibitions.

AHIS G8094 Mamallapuram & the Development of South Indian Style
V. Dehejia
T 2:10-4:00, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar seeks to arrive at a well-grounded "reading" of the enigmatic site of Mamallapuram, port of the Pallava dynasty, that holds the key to the origins of the South Indian style. It then examines the development and flowering of South Indian architecture and sculpture under the aegis of the Chola monarchs.

AHIS G8164 Ritual and Art 
Z. Bahrani 
M 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn 
This seminar will be an investigation of the relationship of art and ritual in the ancient Near East. Topics to be covered include rituals of architecture and foundation deposits, votive images and votive gifts, sacrifice and ritual substitution, iconoclasm, the care of ancestral images and cult images, rituals of death and burial, and the arts of divination.

AHIS G8462 Italian Renaissance Painting
M. Cole
T 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn
The fall 2015 version of the seminar will focus on Andrea del Sarto. It will consider the artistic scene in Florence around 1500, when Sarto was learning his craft, then look at the major works he completed until his death in 1530. The course will consider the artist’s collaborations with several of the painters (Rosso Fiorentino, Jacopo da Pontormo) who later came to stand as icons of “Mannerism” and will examine the Sarto revival at the end of the century, when the painter’s works became touchstones for academic reformers.

A number of the sessions will be held in the Frick Collection, where a major exhibition on Sarto opens in October; prospective participants should be prepared to meet there and at other collections in the city during class hours.

AHIS G8465 Finished/Unfinished
D. Bodart
R 2:10-4pm, 934 Schermerhorn
As Pliny the Elder famously asserted, "the last works of artists, their unfinished paintings, in fact, are held in greater admiration than their completed works... For in such works are seen the outline depicted, and the very thoughts of the artists expressed". This seminar will investigate the artistic process in the early modern period in relation to these two extreme stages of completion and incompletion. It will focus particularly on the 16th century when, around figures of recognized artistic genius such as Michelangelo and Titian, there appeared for the first time the question of a possible intentional use of unfinished sketchiness as an expressive medium.
The course will devote particular attention to the critical reading of primary sources, examining original editions, later commented editions, and translations. The course will also be more generally based on a cross analysis of works, technical and scientific data, and historical and theoretical issues, in order to understand which elements would have determined a state of completion or incompletion of a work of art in the early modern period. Another fundamental issue will be to analyze the elaboration of a poetics of the unfinished in 16th century Italy and its later reception. Reading knowledge in Italian and/or Spanish is recommended, but not mandatory.

AHIS G8626 French 19th-Century Architectural Theory
B. Bergdoll
W 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn

AHIS G8713 Directions in Contemporary Art: Photography and Other Camera Work
A. Alberro
R 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This course will focus on photography and other camera work of the past several decades, questioning the relationship between new forms of image making, display and distribution on the one hand, and the continuous history of the camera on the other. This will lead us to consider some of the effects of developments in strategic technologies of digital reproduction, the Internet, web based social media, and the accelerated stream of interest in new photographic processes and applications. How has the huge expansion of camera machines, imaging systems, and the means of networking them impacted photography and image making more generally? Do we think of photography now as a specialized instance of the indeterminate artifact, inexhaustible by any one interpretation, never reaching a final destination of fixed, settled meaning? How credible are recent claims that the photographic image no longer points to but is that which is represented? What, in short, might photography mean today? Is it a new kind of artistic production? A new type of visible evidence? A new type of spectatorship? Or should we look to new functions, or to new platforms of exhibition and distribution, when trying to come to grips with contemporary photography?

AHIS G8746 Contemporary Art and the Conflicts of Globalization (New course - application deadline August 3rd)
J. Kraynak
T 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn
By now, ‘globalism’ has become an accepted reality in contemporary art and culture: a paradigm shift ushered in by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the acceleration of technological change, and the spread of neoliberalism. But how do we understand ‘globalism’––and its relative, globalization––and its effects on art? This course examines this question by focusing upon the conflicts and debates that have arisen, approaching globalization as a series of competing models and theories (juridical, economic, technological, political, etc.). We will examine both the theoretical and practical impact of globalism for the production, circulation, and reception of visual art and culture: from the increasingly cross-national identity of practices; to the expansion of the national into the global biennial; to the ways in which artistic practices seek to confront, interrogate, and critique (or conversely, embody) the conditions of globalized culture. Issues such as difference, diaspora, immigration and citizenship, statelessness and exile, the global industrialization of agriculture, economic and technological inequities, will guide our discussion. To assist in our investigation, readings will be broad in scope and interdisciplinary in nature, drawn from the fields of economics, political science, philosophy and literary studies, among others. Through select case studies, we will cover advanced artistic practices, new exhibition models, as well broader cultural phenomena, such as the imagery and auditory culture of war and terrorism in the post-9/11 world.

AHIS G8765 Issues in Performance Art
K. Jones
M 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn
Wedged between the rudiments of theater and the gestures of visual art, performance art came to prominence at the end of the twentieth century. Our concentration in this course will be on artists and practices after 1960. However, we will also consider the roots of this form in the first part of the twentieth century. Central to our investigations will be discussions surrounding performance as catalytic process, as temporal art, and issues of the body as form.

Core Graduate Courses

Required courses for first-year students. Department will register students.

AHIS G6009 Proseminar
K. Moxey
R 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Required course for first-year PhD Students in the Art History Department.

AHIS G8889 M.A. Methods Colloquium
F. Baumgartner
R 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Required course for all first-year M.A. students. This course examines the range of methods employed by art historians in order to understand artworks, including formalism, iconography, Marxism, feminism and post-colonialism. Through the critical reading of texts from Antiquity to the present, we will not only study the history and developments of the methods of art history, but also begin to define our own theoretical positions. Our collective task will be to discuss the critical issues that have shaped the field of art history (the canon, vision, otherness, to name a few), while putting them in conversation with artworks from different traditions and time periods.

AHIS G8990 Critical Colloquium
J. Kraynak
R 12:10-2, 930 Schermerhorn Hall (NEW DAY/TIME)
Required course for all first-year Modern Art M.A. students. The structure of the colloquium combines reading and analysis of texts by major theorists and critics. Each week discussions focus on key terms and analytical lenses in the history of art and art criticism. The course is designed to allow for guest presentations on particular issues by critics and writers, just as it draws on the expertise and participation of Columbia faculty. The aim is to develop students' critical thinking and for them to learn directly from leading practitioners writing about modern and contemporary art. In addition to department faculty, writers for Artforum, Grey Room, Parkett, Texte zur Kunst, and October, among other venues, regularly participate in the colloquium.