Spring 2012 Graduate Courses

Updated on January 26, 2011.


(AHIS G4085) Andean Art and Architecture
E. Pasztory
M 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
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 G4385) Renaissance Architecture: History and Theory
F. Benelli
TR 10:35-11:50, 612 Schermerhorn
A survey of Renaissance Architecture in Italy through its buildings and its theory, from Brunelleschi to Palladio and the influence to other European country.

(AHIS W4155) Art and Archaeology of Mesopotamia
Z. Bahrani
TR 2:40-3:55, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
Introduction to the art and architecture of Mesopotamia beginning with the establishment of the first cities in the fourth millennium B.C.E. through the fall of Babylon to Alexander of Macedon in the fourth century B.C.E. Focus on the distinctive concepts and uses of art in the Assyro-Babylonian tradition.

(AHIS W4850) Collecting
A. Higonnet
TR 9:10-10:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
Graduate Lecture open to undergraduates. This course studies the nearly universal human phenomenon of collecting. We will begin by gauging the range and basic structures of the phenomenon, looking at collections ranging from sock monkeys through anatomical waxes to ukiyo-e cards. These examples will enable us to compare and contrast theories of collecting, of which the most important will be psychological and anthropological. Moving from these general theories to the historically particular, we will next turn to the history of high-end collecting, Renaissance curiosity cabinets, and the origins of museum. The history of the art museum will then be studied in some detail, through both analysis of art museum types—principally national or municipal, private, monographic, and geographic—and through case studies of personal collections. Finally, the course will address art-work about collecting. Lectures, readings, and discussion sections will be reinforced by multiple visits to New York City museums.

(AHIS W4855) African American Artists in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
K. Jones
MW 11-12:15, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This course is a survey of visual production by North Americans of African descent from 1900 to the present. It will look at the various ways in which these artists have sought to develop an African American presence in the visual arts over the last century. We will discuss such issues as: what role does stylistic concern play; how are ideas of romanticism, modernism, and formalism incorporated into the work; in what ways do issues of postmodernism, feminism, and cultural nationalism impact on the methods used to portray the cultural and political body that is African American?


(AHIS G8040) History of Architectural Exhibitions and Installations at MoMA
B. Bergdoll
F 9-10:50, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
From its first seminal exhibition on the International Style curated by Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson in 1932 to the "Light Construction" and "Un-private House" exhibitions organized by Terence Riley in the 1990s, the Architecture & Design Department at MOMA has played an important role in defining architecture both for practitioners and a wider public. This course will examine the history of the department, of its role in designing and conceiving exhibitions at every scale from photography displays to the houses built in the garden by Breuer and Ain, and of its reception and influence. Students will work directly in MoMA's own archives to research seminal exhibitions. Guest speakers and gallery visits.

(AHIS G8128) Edo Period Painting
M. McKelway
W 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar will examine visual expressions of sinophilia and eccentricity in Japanese painting of the Edo period. Through an investigation of both original texts and modern studies of such artists as Ike Taiga and Ita Jakuchu, the seminar will also explore how such factors as the social background, personal networks, religious faith, and degree of literacy of Edo-period 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 discussions, the course will concentrate on painters active in mid-late Edo period (late 17th-early 19th century) Kyoto and Edo. Students in the seminar will be encouraged to work directly with actual works in the Metropolitan Museum and the Burke Collection in New York. The seminar will also study works from the Imperial Collection on view at the National Gallery of Art in a special exhibition of the Doshoku sai-e (Colorful Realm of Living Beings) by Ito Jakuchu.

(AHIS G8321) Antiquity and Modernity in the Age of Neoclassicism
A. Cavina
W 4:10-6, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
Within the timeframe mid-18th century - 1820, the seminar examines the radical shifts in art idiom taking place against a European background of epochal change. The first part covers the impact of excavating Herculaneum and Pompeii and the rediscovery of classical antiquity. The second part is devoted to major themes: history painting, portraiture, landscape painting in the age of Jean-Jacques Rousseau marked by the revolutionary experience of Open-Air Painting.

(AHIS G8326) Modernist Architecture
J. Reynolds
T 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This graduate seminar will examine the tensions between internationalist and regionalist claims in modernist architectural discourse in Europe, Japan and the US from the 1920's through the 1960's.

(AHIS G8455) The Italian Renaissance Portrait
M. Cole
T 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
The portrait has long been central to the very idea of the Renaissance: it can reinforce the Burckhardtian characterization of the period in terms of naturalism and of the rise of the individual; it can exemplify the notion of a recovery an ancient past (Roman busts, coins); and it can seem the typifying expression both of the bourgeois mercantile republic and of its opposite, the court. The seminar will consider all of these possibilities, but also raise questions that cut in other directions: in a period where the human body and life study have become the basis for art making, is the portrait even a coherent category? Why do some artists (Raphael) build their careers around portraiture when others (Michelangelo) avoid the practice? What would a less secularized history of portraiture look like, given both the close connection between the portrait and the icon and the fact that numerous preachers objected to the presence of portraits in the church? How should we think about anonymous portraits, about works that cannot be approached in terms of the sitters' identity? The first part of the course will involve regular meetings at the Met; participants will need some flexibility in scheduling meetings.

(AHIS G8495) Modern and Contemporary in China
J. Rajchman
W 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
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 G8577) European Romanticism (CANCELLED)
C. Grewe

(AHIS G8698) Problems in Contemporary Art: Sound
B. Joseph
R 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn
Recent years have seen a surge in interest in the acoustic dimension of modern and contemporary artistic practices. Critical, artistic, and academic genres such as "Sound Art," "Audio Culture," and "Sound Studies"—which seek to ground and legitimize acoustic practices within the institutions of university and museum—have just as often come with inflated theoretical and rhetorical claims about both the historical denigration of the acoustic and its "subversive" or "revolutionary" potential. Drawing upon a range of canonic and, especially, recent literature devoted to sound, this seminar will attempt to assess and interrogate the critical, political, theoretical and intellectual stakes surrounding its contemporary study. Research topics will address the acoustic dimension of the "visual" arts (particularly in the period post-WWII) as well as the larger questions around conducting significant interdisciplinary scholarly writing.

(AHIS G8706) Directions in Contemporary Art: Photography
A. Alberro
R 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
This course will focus on art photography of the past two decades, questioning the relationship between contemporary photography and the continuous history of photography. We will also reflect on some of the effects of the permeation of photography throughout contemporary life. How can we evaluate contemporary culture within the expanding photographic field? Do we think of photography now as a somewhat specialized instance of the indeterminate artifact, inexhaustible by any one interpretation, never reaching a final destination of fixed, settled meaning? Is this the case for photography in general, or only in the eyes of the educated but highly restricted art audience?

(AHIS G8712) Gothic Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
S. Murray
W 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar, meeting at the Metropolitan Museum, the Cloisters and Columbia, will provide direct access to works of art themselves as well as hundreds of high-resolution digital images (www.mappinggothicfrance.org) which invite students to consider the work of sculpture in context. Students will undertake research projects on the objects understood within historiographical, historical, and architectural contexts.

(AHIS G8807) The Body, Human and Divine, in India's Art
V. Dehejia
W 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
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 G8991) Curatorial Colloquium
K. Cabañas
M 4:10-6, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
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.

(CLAR G4020) Building a Poem: Selected Topics in Poetry & Architecture
V. Di Palma and T. Smoliarova (Slavic Languages & Literatures)
T 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This graduate seminar explores the complex and persistent interrelationship between poetry and architecture within European culture from Antiquity to Modern times. How do poems and buildings reflect different cultures, epochs, and styles? When and why do poets turn to architectural metaphors, similes, or descriptions? What do architectural analogies do for literature and literary theories, and what do poetic analogies bring to architecture and its theory? This seminar investigates and interrogates points of intersection between poetic and architectural traditions by focusing on a particular set of literary concepts or strategies, including genre, decorum, rhetoric, ornament, grammar, and style, and architectural "places" such as the villa, garden, ruin or fragment, city, and utopia. By examining poems from an architectural point of view, and buildings from a poetic point of view, the seminar hopes to shed new and perhaps unexpected light on the long association between poetry and architecture within European culture.