Spring 2010 Graduate Courses


(AHIS G4085) Andean Art & Architecture
E. Pasztory 
Open to undergraduates. Survey of the art of the Andes from earliest times until the Spanish conquest. Emphasis on the nature of Andean tradition and the relationship between art and society.

(AHIS G6117) Early Chinese Calligraphy
R. Harrist 
The history of calligraphy from earliest times through the Song dynasty, with special emphasis on the interaction of the state and the innovations of individual calligraphers.

(AHIS G124) Modern and Contemporary in China
J. Rajchman
In what ways does the existence of a 'contemporary art' or contemporary situation in art require us to rethink the very idea of 'modern' (or 'postmodern') art, its methods and its geographies? In this lecture we take Mainland China as a focus and laboratory for this question, at once critical and curatorial. We look back to the peculiarities of the 'modern' period (since the Boxer Rebellion), the intellectual debates about modernity, the Cultural Revolution and its current aftermath. We examine a current sinological surrounding the nature and fate of 'traditional' Chinese painting and look at the problem of urbanism in contemporary work. In the process, we examine a series of methodological questions involved in the study of a 'contemporary Chinese art' with the participation of historians, curators, and critics working in this emerging field. Related lectures and events in New York are suggested. The Seminar is open to qualified students in different disciplines and departments.

(AHIS G6133) Eccentricity and Sinophilia: Edo Period Painting
M. McKelway
An examination of Japanese painting of the Edo period (1603-1868) that investigates major texts and modern studies of such artists as Ike Taiga and Ito Jakuchu, and considers how the social background, personal networks, religious faith, and literary expertise of painters found expression in their art. Using Tsuji Nobuo's Kiso no keifu (The Lineage of Eccentricity) and more recent publications in western languages as a guide for weekly discussions, the course will concentrate on painters active in mid-Edo period (late 17th-18th century) Kyoto and Edo.

(AHIS G6687) Dada & Surrealism
R. Krauss & N. Elcott
Long neglected, Dada and Surrealism have emerged as twin pillars in recent revisionist histories of modern art. This graduate lecture course puts the two movements in dialogue through a unique pedagogic structure: consecutive lectures by Professors Krauss and Elcott will converge on related topics—e.g. psychotechnics and psychoanalysis, Surrealist photography and Dada montage. Each lecture will be followed by an exchange between the professors and will open onto a discussion with the students. Readings include seminal historical and critical texts as well as recent scholarship. Additional topics include: origin myths and manifestos, obsolescence and mediums, women in Dada and Surrealism, and Marcel Duchamp.

Seminars and Colloquia

(AHIS G8274) Imperial Spaces
F. de Angelis
This interdisciplinary seminar will investigate the fora of imperial Rome, focusing on the interaction between architectural space, figural decoration, and human activities that took place there. Images, archaeological remains, historical and literary texts, will be studied jointly in order to understand the functioning of these key places of Rome's public life, as well as their relationship with the exercise and display of power. Permission of the instructor required.

(AHIS G8450) Michaelangelo and his Rivals: Problems in 16th Century Sculpture
W. Hood
This seminar investigates the instances and character of Michelangelo's encounters with other artists from his earliest years until his old age. In particular it examines the notion, largely invented by Michelangelo himself, that he was the greatest, as well as most influential, sculptor of his day. In particular, we investigate Michelangelo's mature dialogues with other sculptors: Andrea and Jacopo Sansovino, Benvenuto Cellini, Baccio Bandinelli, Bartolomeo Ammanati and Niccolo Tribolo.

(AHIS G8537) Cultural Production and the Creation of Medieval France
S. Murray
This seminar provides a case study of the complex relationship between architectural production and the emergence of French national identity in the twelfth century. It is hoped that some of the content developed by particpants may be used in an interactive database called "Mapping Gothic France."

(AHIS G8545) Rubens
D. Freedberg
An examination of the life and works of Peter Paul Rubens in the light of the most recent scholarship.

(AHIS G8574) Labrouste & French Architecture
B. Bergdoll
This course will explore the architecture of Henri Labrouste (1801-1879), one of the seminal architects of the Nineteenth Century, and one of the most enduringly admired, both in its original historical context and in relationship to the architect's legacy.  Two themes will be stressed, related to preparations for a possible exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art:  Labrouste and the nature of hybrid construction in a modernizing architecture that absorbs new structural systems and new materials, and the challenges of designing for round-the-clock light in the period in which artificial light became for the first time a feature of architecture and civic space.    

(AHIS G8694) Spectral Modernity/Cinematic Spectres
J. Crary
This course will evaluate a range of recent arguments about the spectral relation of cinema to its own past and to crucial features of 20th century modernity. It will consider some of the aesthetic, technological, and political elements which constituted the century of cinema in the light of the so-called "death of film," the spread of digital media, and of corporate-led globalization. Films by Godard, Kluge, Syberberg and Debord will be core objects for discussion of the unstable status of cinema and its relation to the catastrophes of recent history. Related topics may include work by Pedro Costa, Claire Denis, Alexander Sokurov, Bela Tarr, Tsai Ming-Liang, Manoel de Oliveira, Jia Zhang-ke, Lucrecia Martel, Amos Gitai, Chantal Akerman, Harun Farocki and others. Limited to 15 students. Required screening meets Wednesdays 4-6. The content of this course changes each time it is offered.

(AHIS G8698) Problems in Contemporary Art
B. Joseph
Problems in Contemporary Art focuses on a particular movement, or moment, within contemporary art practice in the post-War period. This year will focus on pop art—Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rosenquist, and others—revisiting and questioning its canon from a theoretical and historical perspective predicated on its reception in the work of figures such as Mike Kelley, Dan Graham, and Hélio Oiticica.

(AHIS G8702) Contemporary Art & Contemporaneity
A. Alberro
This course studies what contemporary art might mean today. Is it a new kind of artistic production? A new type of spectatorship? Or should one look to new patterns of patronage, or new forms of distribution and exhibition, when trying to come to grips with contemporary art? Particular attention will be paid to the role of the past within contemporary art. Is contemporary art the name of an art historical period that has succeeded modernism? Or is it a kind of modernism that has outlived its time?

(AHIS G8737) How Images Think
Z. Bahrani & K. Moxey
If the social history of art dedicated its work to the way in which works of art were produced and received within their own historical context, there is a new interest in how the image escapes its original circumstances and structures its reception over the course of time. This approach uses "art" to question some of the received assumptions that underlie our conception of "history." We will discuss texts drawn from a number of different fields in the humanities (e.g. philosophy, anthropology, philosophy of history, science studies, visual studies, and art history), that address the "work" of the image. How do images shape their own reception? Can sensitivity to the "presence" of the image be reconciled with approaches that stress its ideological and political function? What is lost and what is gained when images are treated as if they had "lives" of their own?

(AHIS G8807) The Body in the Art of India
V. Dehejia
This seminar explores the centrality of the human form, male and female, human and divine, in the artistic tradition of India. It focuses on the idealized and stylized body which was never based on studies from life, and establishes the vital importance of adornment, a concept associated with auspiciousness. It raises questions about the use of the phrase "sacred space," pointing out that such spaces invariably carried imagery that had little or nothing to do with the sacred.

(AHIS G8940) On Spaces
M. De Michelis
The notion of "space" is very peculiar for architecture in modern time: in a certain sense it could be described as a modern architectural neologism. Space addresses in a very direct way the issue of human perception—and experience—of the world. It was the German architect and theorist Gottfried Semper who proposed that "spatial enclosure" was the fundamental feature of architecture and therefore was able to provide a solution to the growing anxiety which was worrying architecture since the "crisis" of classical orders around the eighteenth century. This seminar will discuss the different phases, the changing theories, protagonists and representations of space. Introductory lectures and student presentations on specific study-cases will support a discussion in depth.

(AHIS G8991) Curatorial Colloquium
K. Cabañas
The Curatorial Colloquium is taken in the second semester of study and is required for the completion of the MA in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies. The course introduces students to the history, theory and practice of object collection and display as well as to exhibitions such as Documenta and the various international biennials. The course is designed to allow for guest presentations on particular issues by curators and museum professionals, 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 in the exhibition and display of modern and contemporary art. In addition to department faculty, curators from MoMA, the Whitney, the International Center for Photography, and other institutions regularly participate in the colloquium.