Spring 2014 Graduate Courses

Updated on January 23, 2014.


AHIS W4086 Aztec Art and Architecture
M. O'Neil
M/W 2:40-3:55, 903 Altschul Hall
Open to graduate and undergraduate students. This course focuses on the visual and material culture of the Aztec (Mexica) Empire, from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries CE. We will explore the Mexica civilization through their books, objects, buildings, and festivals, investigating topics such as communication, performance, religion and ritual, sacred landscapes, histories and origin stories, politics and empire, and other facets of society. In addition, we will consider interactions of Mexica and Europeans in New Spain in the sixteenth century and the transformations in arts and culture as a result of their interchange.

AHIS W4443 Baroque and Rococo Architecture, 1600-1750
C. Yerkes
T/R 11:40-12:55, 614 Schermerhorn Hall
This course surveys the history of European architecture from 1600 to 1750. In addition to the analysis of key buildings, particular attention is given to developments in architectural theory, landscape design, and urban planning. Topics include the publication and circulation of architectural books, the debates between the Ancients and Moderns, the impact of court culture on spatial planning and interior design, and the rise of capital cities.

AHIS G4385 History and Theory of Renaissance Architecture
F. Benelli
W 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
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 G4861 Cinema and Paintings
K. Minturn
T 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Cinema and Paintings will be dedicated to an interdisciplinary investigation of cinema's relationship to modern painting (1895-1995). Through a series of film screenings and slide lectures, students will be given the opportunity to analyze specific "points of intersection" between cinema and painting—moments in their parallel histories when cinema and painting have shared certain aesthetic, formalistic, thematic, ideological, or political aspirations. Concomitantly, this course will introduce students to the existing literature on this subject (the work of Bazin, Panofsky, Arnheim, Aumont, Vernet, Bonitzer, Païni, et. al.) and encourage them to formulate their own methodological approach to the study of cinema's relationship to painting.

Seminars and Colloquium

AHIS G8012 Vitruvius and His Legacy
F. Benelli
W 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall & Avery Library Seminar Room
This seminar focuses on the origin of early modern theory of architecture and its first development during the Renaissance, from the work of Leon Battista Alberti (c. mid fifteenth century) to Vincenzo Scamozzi (Venice 1615). The goal of the seminar is to provide knowledge of Renaissance theory of architecture through an upclose reading of the treatises. The first part of every session will be devoted to the analysis of the book intended as an object, the second part will focus on its contents and the way they have influenced the theory and the actual built architecture of their time. A field trip to Beineke Library at Yale University is planned during the semester in order to analyze directly an original XVI century copy of Francesco di Giorgio Martini's Treatise.

AHIS G8123 Chinese Art at Columbia
R. Harrist
W 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
A curatorial seminar focused on Chinese bronzes, ceramics, and sculpture in the Columbia Art Properties collection. Based on "hands-on" study of these works and consultations with visiting curators, students will prepare catalogue essays and design a new installation of the collection.

AHIS G8128 Edo Period Painting
M. McKelway
T 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 Itō Jakuchū, 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 Kisō 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 Freer Gallery of Art. The seminar will also study works from the Feinberg Collection on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a special exhibition scheduled for the spring.

AHIS G8156 Sacred Image Sacred Space: From Ancient Greece to Byzantium
H. Klein/I. Mylonopoulos
M 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
In ancient Egypt, temples and rituals were often addressed as the symbolic point of conjunction between sacred space and sacred time. Egyptian temple architecture and its sculptural decoration offer a visually enhanced reflection of ritual reality. On the contrary, Greek and Roman sacred architecture cannot be described as some kind of built theology or allegory in stone. Although temples appear to be one of the most important signifiers of ancient Greek and Roman cultures, cult practices were never truly dependent on the presence of a built temple. Thus, if architecture were to be understood as a secondary parameter for the definition of sacred space, the question arises as to how exactly a religiously used spatial frame was demarcated in Greco-Roman antiquity. The advent and subsequent spread of Christianity from humble beginnings in Syria-Palestine to omnipresence and dominance in the Late Antique and Medieval Mediterranean brought with it significant changes not only in the attitudes towards the divine but also in the conceptualization of sacred space. The establishment of the Christian basilica as a standard building type for religious ceremonies resulted in new strategies for the display and experience of the divine presence on earth. The rise of the cult of relics during the fourth century prompted patrons and architects to work out the relationship between holy matter and its presentation within the church proper. Amongst others, the seminar will address questions regarding the architecturally and ritually defined space, the dynamic relations between image, architecture, and space, the interconnections between imaginary and physically experienced space, the religiously motivated transformations of space, and finally the political as well as social uses and abuses of sacred space.

AHIS G8158 The Eastern Mediterranean in the Second Millennium
Z. Bahrani
R 4:10-6, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar will investigate art and concepts of art and aesthetics in the second millennium BC. The seminar will be focused on the cultures of the Ancient Near East, Egypt and the Aegean world during the age of international exchange, from the start of the millennium through the Amarna age. The course is intended to provide in depth tutoring and a format for discussion for advanced graduate students who are being prepared for the PhD degree in ancient art and archaeology. The texts consulted will include primary ancient texts, and secondary literature on art and archaeology of the second millennium Near Eastern and Eastern Mediterranean world. The seminar will also discuss questions of historiography, museum practices, critical and archaeological theories.

AHIS G8194 Islamic Figurative Sculpture: An Introduction
A. Shalem/B. Flood
T 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar will survey the evidence for the production, reception and reuse of three-dimensional and relief figurative sculpture in the Islamic Mediterranean and Near East in the medieval and early modern periods. Drawing together the scattered material and textual evidence for Islamic sculpture, we will consider its contexts, forms, techniques, relationship to antecedent artistic practices, and social function.

AHIS G8263 Roman Villas
F. de Angelis
M 9-10:50, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
The villa is one of the most characteristic features of the Roman world, as well as one of its longest-lasting legacies. This seminar is designed to introduce students to key issues of recent scholarship on Roman villas. In particular, it will investigate the architectural forms and figural decoration of the villa as expressions of the interaction between spaces, functions, and social practices. Furthermore, it will discuss its economic dimension, broadly construed as the realm that determines the role of the villa within the general system of Roman imperial culture, thereby crucially impinging on its aesthetic reception. Finally, it will focus on the relationship between the ancient villa and its modern reincarnations, and reflect on the significance of the analogies between the two phenomena.

AHIS G8460 Italian Renaissance Sculpture
M. Cole
T 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar will introduce participants to the Reniassance sculptural canon and its historiography and will seek to identify new directions for research in the field. The spring 2014 version of the course will focus on small bronzes; the course will include visits to New York collections, and prospective participants should be prepared to meet some weeks at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Frick Collection during class hours. Students will be expected to develop a research project over the course of the semester, culminating in a class presentation and a final paper. They may also be asked to do short presentations on individual readings or objects. Fifty percent of the final grade will be based on the paper, fifty percent on the quality of the presentations and class participation.

AHIS G8474 Fifteenth Century Art in the Netherlands
D. Freedberg
R 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
This course, often taught under the rubrics of "Early Netherlandish Painting" or even "Northern Renaissance Painting" might also be described as "Art in the Age of Van Eyck" or "Painting from Van Eyck to Bosch". It will begin with manuscripts, and deal with the contribution of great sculptors like Sluter as well. The claim implicit in the title is that the techniques pioneered and perfected by the Van Eycks affected all the other arts too - even though the most original and compelling achievements of the century are probably those of painting, which will form the chief focus of this class. Attention will also be paid to the social and historical contexts of the main works discussed. Several museum visits will be included.

AHIS G8495 Modern and Contemporary in China
J. Rajchman
R 2:10-4, 934 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 G8571 Expatriate, Émigré and Exile Artists, 1789-1830
F. Baumgartner
M 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This course explores the relation between the creative process and the respective conditions of expatriation, emigration and exile from the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789 until the end of the Bourbon Restoration in 1830. While all three conditions involve distance from one's home, the personal and historical factors that define them varied significantly, with corresponding differences in the way that the creative process was approached. Examining the cases of Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, Jacques-Louis David and Francisco de Goya among others, this course focuses on the works artists produced while away from their native land, often by constraint rather than choice. Topics of discussion will include: cosmopolitanism and the Grand Tour; the category of the émigré(e)-artist; Revolution, gender and exile; uprooting and creative paralysis/creative fury; the relation to history and the recent past; and the challenges of homecoming after the Revolution.

AHIS G8656 History and Architectural Exhibitions
B. Bergdoll
T 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar will present a panorama of the history of architectural exhibitions from the mid-18th century to the present in lectures by the instructor and in readings. The hypothesis is that the diverse practices of exhibiting architecture as it grew from 18th century academic salons to 21st century installation pieces and biennales is a fruitful lens to pose the larger questions of the evolution of the architectural profession, of modern discourses on architecture, and on the notion of the public in its relationship to architecture. Architectural criticism too grew as much in relationship to exhibition as it did directly to building practice, indeed criticism might be said to have been born of exhibition.

AHIS G8706 Directions in Contemporary Art
A. Alberro
R 12:10-2, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar will explore the meanings the terms "spectatorship," "participation" and "interactivity" have assumed in the past two or three decades within the context of art. Is there is a coherent body of thought linking the many kinds of scholarship that deploy these terms? Do they signify in different ways in various disciplines? From which social and intellectual conditions do the terms spring? And what are their ethical implications and ideological stakes? By the end of the semester we should be prepared to determine individually and collectively how scholarly and artistic approaches to spectatorship, participation and interaction broadly considered should affect our own research on contemporary art and culture.

AHIS G8709 The Time of Art's History
K. Moxey
T 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Time lies at the heart of art history, yet is rarely subject to scrutiny. Recent developments—an awareness that non-western cultures abide by forms of time that fail to coincide with those with which we are familiar and the widespread difficulty of defining "the contemporary"—suggest that art history's temporal structure has never been stable. We will consider ideas of historical time offered by leading art historians as well as the paradoxes and contradictions of current approaches to the issue of temporality.

AHIS G8807 The Body, Human and Divine in the Art of India
V. Dehejia
W 2:10-4, 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.

Core Graduate Courses

AHIS G8991 Curatorial Colloquium
K. Minturn
M 2:10-4, 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.