Freshman Seminar 30x
The Life Project
What happens when contemporary artists treat their everyday lives as artistic material, "sculpting" their eating, sleeping, or living habits and reporting on the process? What kind of art is this? In the era of reality TV, personal informatics, and "challenge literature" have such projects gone mainstream? How do they relate to the "life projects" of ascetics, experimental subjects, or the mentally ill?
Freshman Seminar 36x
Money matters aims to engage first-year students with the economics, politics and aesthetics of one of the most fascinating and enduring aspects in human history. The seminar is a study of money in all its manifestations from the early agrarian societies to the first financial crisis of the 21st-century global market. How have individuals and societies reacted to and used money in business, politics and religion? What are the factors that shaped the metallic content and iconography of coins from the 7th-century BC to the end of the Gold Standard in the 20th century? Why are early modern American and European banknotes so important for the study of social history? What are the links between art, literature, theatre, cinema and money? Seminars will take place at the Harvard College, the Harvard Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts and the Harvard Art Museums, introducing students to the world-class Harvard Coin Collection and offering them the opportunity to handle, research and discuss priceless artefacts. Money matters is intended for students with an interest in history, art history, archaeology, political science, economics and the study of world religions. Handling sessions, group discussions and a short essay on a choice coin from the Harvard Coin Collections will offer students a sense of immediacy and accessibility of Harvard’s splendid numismatic holdings and the opportunity to understand why money makes indeed the world go round.
Freshman Seminar 61L
“Get Out of My Space!” Making Sense of Our Built Environment
Patricio Del Real
Today space is at a premium. We all want space, but what sort of space do we want? We have social space, virtual space, personal space, safe space, collective space. How much space is there? Can we run out of it? How much do you need when you tell me: “Get out of my space!” What makes it “yours?” How do we make space? Who controls it? Architecture helps us define space. We live, study, work and play in buildings and cities that have become the stages for our everyday lives, helping us do what we do and live our present. But architecture has another much more important function: It helps us imagine other possible ways of living. Architecture helps us envision the spaces we want to live in. In this seminar, we will explore the different ways in which we have created, claimed, fought over, shared and continue to imagine space. Our discussions will put a premium on the way architects, artists and social actors have produced space, and how their ideas and projects guide the way we understand our constructions of space. We will make space through hands-on projects such as mapping social networks and transforming your space through the technique of collage. These projects will challenge and help you record, transform and produce space. This seminar is designed to enrich your knowledge of space so that you may take a position on contemporary social questions, debate the nature of our built environment, and claim space for yourself.
Freshman Seminar 61x
Soft Power: The 21st Century Art Museum
Ethan Lasser, Rachel Saunders
What are museums good for in the twenty-first century? Should they be temples of scholarship or purveyors of popular entertainment? Are they places in which we seek contemplative refuge in the experience of “beauty,” or are they viable sites in which to work for social justice? Should we be investing public funds in museums, or are they a luxury best supported by private sources? To whom do museum collections “belong?” Art museums today are thriving, yet they have never faced so many contentious questions about their role and responsibilities. Co-led by two curators at the Harvard Art Museums, this seminar will consider the big issues facing art museums across the globe today. The course is intended for both long-time museum goers, as well as those who have never set foot in an art gallery. We begin with a primer on museum basics—the work of collecting, conservation, display, and research—and an introduction to the many resources of the Harvard Art Museums. In the second half of the seminar, we consider the challenges that face both august, traditional institutions—like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York—as well as younger, start-up museums like the private/ public collections being established across Asia.
Frameworks: The Art of Looking
Visual information today is superabundant thanks to our smartphones, tablets, and other screen-based gadgets. But few of us recognize how thoroughly our habits and experiences of looking have been conditioned by interfaces with long and complex histories. Participants in this course, developed as part of the Humanities Project at Harvard, will approach looking through a consideration of key technologies from its history, such as the telescope, the cinema, and the easel painting. Students will learn about the hidden intricacies of looking and hone skills of visual, material, and spatial analysis through encounters with aesthetic objects from Harvard's collections.
Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding 43
Visual Culture of the Ottoman Empire Between East and West, 15th-17th C.
Examines the visual culture of the Ottoman Empire straddling three continents (Asia, Europe, Africa), together with cross-cultural artistic interactions with Western and Asian Islamic courts (Safavid Iran, Mughal India). Ottoman urbanism, architecture, miniature painting and decorative arts studied in their socio-political contexts that informed their production and reception. The selective fusion of Ottoman-Islamic, Byzantine and Italian Renaissance elements in the codification of a distinctive visual tradition that helped processes of multicultural empire building and identity formation is analyzed. Earliest representations of the East by European artists working in the "Orientalist" mode are also considered.
Introduction to Japanese Art
Surveys the arts of Japan from the prehistoric period to the nineteenth century. Includes Japanese painting, sculpture, and architecture, as well as calligraphy, garden design, ceramics, and prints. Essential themes include the relationship between artistic production and Japanese sociopolitical development, Sino-Japanese cultural exchange, and the impact of religion, region, gender, and class on Japanese artistic practice.
China in Twelve Artworks
China is grasped through twelve artworks, spanning three millennia from the Bronze Age to the twentieth century. These artworks form both a timeline and a jigsaw puzzle with recurrent themes, e.g., the correlation between cosmos, body, and mind. The course consists of case studies, revealing both larger intellectual trends and the nuanced way artworks engage established formal conventions. Students learn about China through art and acquire visual literacy that takes art on its own terms.
Senior Thesis Seminar
In the fall term, HAA 99 includes several group tutorial meetings with the senior honors adviser, where assignments are aimed at facilitating the writing of a senior honors thesis; spring term consists of independent writing, under the direction of the individual thesis adviser. Part one of a two part series.
Architecture and the Construction of Early Modern Islamic Empire
Between the 16th and 18th centuries, three empires - the Mediterranean-based Ottomans, Safavids in Iran, and Mughals in India - developed interconnected yet distinctive architectural cultures with individualized ornamental idioms by fusing their common Timurid heritage with cosmopolitan regional traditions. Explores connections between empire building and architecture, with respect to aesthetics, religion, imperial ideology, and theories of dynastic legitimacy.
From Byzantium to the British Isles: The Materiality of Late Antiquity
This course explores the extraordinary cultural transformation Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East underwent from Diocletian's reorganization of the Roman Empire in the late third century to the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in the eighth century. Monuments and sites, sculpture, mosaics, frescoes and ceramics, icons and relics, textiles, coins and seals chart the movement of people, commodities and ideas along routes of warfare, pilgrimage, trade and diplomacy. Was the world of late antiquity still bearing the hallmarks of Roman connectivity, administration and culture? Were Ireland and Anglo-Saxon Englans really the edge of the known world? What was the extent of the Eastern Roman Empire's cultural power in late antique Europe, Africa and the Middle East? How did religious changes influence urban topographies, geographies of power and artistic choices?
Close-up inspection of works of art in the Harvard Art Museums, the Harvard Business School and the Boston Fine Arts Museum; art making in the Harvard Art Museum Materials Lab and the Harvard Ceramics Studios; and study of archaeological records of the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis offer participants a rare insight into one of the most fascinating chapters in the history of art and architecture.
Japanese Literature 133
Gender and Japanese Art
Examines the role of gender in the production, reception, and interpretation of visual images in Japan from the twelfth through the twenty-first centuries. Topics include Buddhist conceptions of the feminine and Buddhist painting; sexual identity and illustrated narratives of gender reversals; the dynamics of voyeurism in Ukiyo-e woodblock prints; modernization of images of "modern girls" in the 1920s; and the gender dynamics of girl culture in manga and anime.
The Art of the Court of Constantinople
This course will study monuments of the Byzantine Empire from the end of Iconoclasm in 843 to 1204 when Constantinople, the capital city fell to the armies of the Crusaders. It will focus on objects and monuments, which can be linked to individual patrons or institutions. These are primarily the imperial court and the high officials of the government and the church, which together make up only a small but important class of Byzantine society. The material will be studied in relation to historical events, and to court ceremonial and religious feast days. The course will be run in part as a lecture course with ample discussion periods in the form of a seminar.
Modern Art in Revolution: Paris Commune to October 1917
This seminar examines the relationship between art and activism during two major popular uprisings against the state: the Paris Commune of 1871 and the October Revolution of 1917. What was the role of modern and avant-garde artists in these revolutionary events? What new forms of production and distribution did they invent, and how did their work engender, rather than simply reflect, processes of emancipation and social transformation? How, in other words, was the utopian imagination made into spatial and pictorial form? The first half of the course addresses Courbet’s activism, the use and abuse of photography for partisan purposes, Manet’s depiction of state violence, and the flowering of Impressionism in the wake of the Commune’s suppression. We then analyze the participation of Russian and Soviet avant-garde artists in the building of the first socialist society in the 1920s, considering the politics of abstraction, the turn to experimental and factographic models of photography, the fine artist’s transformation into media-worker, and the radicalization of exhibition practices. Weekly meetings will be organized around first-hand study of original works of art in the Harvard Art Museums, and photographic albums and artists’ books in Houghton and the Fine Arts Library. Note seminar location: Study Center of the Harvard Art Museums (show your ID at the desk on the 4th-floor). Requirements: seminar attendance and participation, weekly readings, and the preparation of a research paper based on original works and/or historical materials in Harvard collections. Open to undergraduates. Limit: 12.
Vision and Justice: The Art of Citizenship
This course is organized around a guiding question: How has visual representation both limited and liberated our definition of American citizenship and belonging? Today, as we are awash with images, and as social media has allowed us to witness racially motivated injustices with a speed unimaginable until recently, we have had to call upon skills of visual literacy to remain engaged global citizens. This course will allow us to understand the understudied historic roots and contemporary outgrowth of this crucial function of visual literacy for justice in American civic life.
Sequenced chronologically, the lectures are organized into three parts, examining the role of visual representation as Civic Evidence, as Civic Critique, and as Civic Engagement (i.e. movement building and solidarity). Exploring these three categories in turn, topics include: the role of aesthetics for the invention of race, narratives supporting and critiquing Native American “removal,” the abolition of transatlantic slavery, immigration, the creation of and destabilization of U.S. segregation, the New Negro Movement, Japanese Internment, and the long Civil Rights movement. Each lecture centers on case studies to show the historic roots of the contemporary interplay between visual representation and justice at these inflection points in the contestation for citizenship in America.
We are fortunate to have invaluable holdings at the Harvard Art Museums and at the Peabody Museum and via Cooper Gallery exhibitions that vividly showcase this contested relationship between art, justice, race, and culture over the course of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. Lectures will incorporate material from these holdings and sections will meet at these locations to facilitate object-based study. This course will also include guest lectures from architect Michael Murphy and artist Theaster Gates. Students will leave the course having developed rigorous skills of visual literacy and critical analysis foundational to be engaged global citizens regardless of their concentration or future field of study.
Tectonics Lab: Materials and Form
Monday, 9-10am; Friday, 2-5pm
Tectonics Lab introduces students to material properties, structural behavior, and fabrication-and-assembly issues in architecture through a combination of lectures, workshops, and design-build projects. The course emphasizes two modes of architectural experimentation: analytical and intuitive. Abstract and architectonic exercises involving these modes of experimentation will take place in a workshop format, with students working in teams of varying sizes. Weekly lectures provide a theoretical basis for the design-build projects, with topics including fundamental, non-quantitative statics (e.g., free-body diagrams, types of forces and reactions) and generic structural approaches; material properties and fabrication; joinery and assembly; scalar transformation; modular construction; kinetic structures; and more. Design-build projects challenge students to engage lecture material in a hands-on manner; these projects focus on the construction of full-scale artifacts that may be tested against a range of performance criteria. In each project, students will explore the role of material expression, figuration, and formal gesture in communicating their ideas. Project documentation through drawing, photography, and video is an essential component of coursework, and a comprehensive course portfolio will be due at the end of term.
The principal objective of Tectonics Lab is to extend our shared knowledge of material properties, structural behavior, and construction techniques by testing new ideas. Our research model is a hybrid: equal parts scientific laboratory (where narrowly defined hypotheses are tested and evaluated) and artist’s atelier (where expression of ideas, both articulated and ineffable, is the goal).
Women in South Asian Art
This course aims to provide a historical perspective for understanding the contemporary politics of body and gender representation by exploring historical examples of female patronage of art and by attending to the development of goddess cults through archaeological and art historical evidence. By scrutinizing visual representations of female body in South Asia and by locating them in the context of aesthetic theories and erotic science, we will also problematize exoticizing views of “erotica Indica”, including the prevalent use of erotic imagery from medieval temples for illustrating the Kamasutra in the West. The readings for this course are interdisciplinary, and we will cover a broad range of materials from medieval sculptures, to miniature paintings, and to an interpretive animated cartoon of the Hindu epic, Rāmāyana
Science and the Practice of Art History
This course leads students through the examination of a work of art from the collection of Harvard Art Museums using the perspectives of a curator, conservator and a conservation scientist. Students will examine and interrogate a work using these different perspectives to understand how and from what the object is made and how it has changed since its creation using visual and instrumental techniques. The course will conclude with a presentation of a forgery/attribution/authentication case by individuals. The course will be taught by curators, conservators and conservation scientists from the Harvard Art Museums.
Family and Daily Life in the Byzantine World
The course will focus on the private and public life and world of everyday Byzantine society. Although most of the surviving material evidence originates from court and religious environments, the course will attempt to study Byzantine society as a whole. Course topics will examine the private as well as public life of the individual from childhood to adult life through artifacts from the household, work and other social environments. Emphasis will be on the early and middle Byzantine periods (5th – 12th c.).
The Art of religious Experience: Devotional Images Before and After the Reformation
Jeffrey Hamburger, Felipe Pereda
The Reformation, in 2017 500 years old, marks a caesura in the history of European religious art. Between the late Middle Ages and the Counter-Reformation, however, there are also important continuities. The course will pay special attention to the construction of religious experience through a series of comparative case studies.
The Russian and Soviet Avant-Gardes
On the centenary of the 1917 Revolutions, this seminar offers a major test case for assessing the relationship between aesthetics and politics by returning to the pioneering example of Russian and Soviet avant-garde artists, photographers, designers, and architects who participated in, or otherwise responded to, the building of the first socialist society. The key issue on the table is the avant-garde’s problematization and ultimate rejection of the modernist principle of the autonomy of the work of art. The significant role of women in this major shift within the history of modernism, as well as the work of non-architects in the field of architecture, is discussed.
We begin with the pre-revolutionary embrace of the autonomy principle in the differentiation of poetic vs. everyday language, Suprematist nonobjectivity, and the understanding of faktura (facture, texture) as materiological determination. We then turn to the troubling of that principle in the wake of 1917, in both Lissitzky’s art of the proun, which ranged across media from painting to architecture, and also laboratory Constructivism, which, following Picasso’s example, advanced constructed sculpture as a major new procedure. The rejection of autonomy altogether is found in the Productivists’ subsequent call for artists to enter into industrial production and the design of every day life. Major examples for discussion include: the reinvention of textile and clothing design; the advent of new typologies for interior and urban space; the recourse to experimental and factographic modes of photographic practice; and the radicalization of graphic design and exhibition design.
The seminar is supported by a dedicated exhibition in the Harvard Art Museums, “What about Revolution? Aesthetic Practices after 1917,” and a weekend study trip to the centennial exhibition, “Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test,” at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Requirements: seminar attendance and participation, weekly readings, and the preparation of a research paper based on original works of art. Open to graduate students. Limit: 12.
Medieval Japanese Ink Painting
This seminar explores the golden age of Japanese Zen monk-painters (ca. 1200-1600). Issues to be explored include ritual and portraiture, techniques of accidentalism, inscriptions and Zen discourse, the status of the monk-painter, the Ashikaga collection, and the relationship to Chinese literati painting. Knowledge of Japanese or Chinese is required
Constructing Latin America
Patricio Del Real
In the 20th Century, architects, designers and urban planners in Latin America realized and projected visions of modernity through buildings and ideas that established the canonic works of modern architecture in the region. How do these buildings, forms and ideas engage the intellectual milieu produced by artists, writers and intellectuals in Latin America? What is the relationship between the notion of mestizaje debated by José Vasconcelos and Manuel Gámio, and Mexico’s University City? How did the idea of acomodação advanced by Gilberto Freyre impact the forms of Brazilian modernism? In this seminar, we will explore how architecture in Mexico and Brazil was mobilized to imagine and construct modern nations. We will engage in a close analysis of key works of architecture and examine the interactions between ideas and forms, texts and buildings, writers and architects. Our aim is to examine architecture in its expanded field and to study the multiple sites and strategies of constructing and imagining Latin America.
Colonial Art of Mexico and the Andes
“Something New, Something Old: A Marriage Made in Hell”
This seminar will examine how the new is rendered as something known. This conundrum is, in and of itself, an unprecedented problem. As such, the seminar will examine the relationship between differing theoretical approaches to urban spaces, architecture, pictorial production and consumption, and the historical investigation of colonial Latin American art and architecture in the 16th and 17th centuries. Some questions to be explored through specific readings and works are:
What is the intersection between formal studies of colonial objects and images with the questions formed to interpret them? Is it the same as in the study of European studies, or are there differences? Is pictorial perspective a visual imperative once it is introduced? What is the nature of hybridity/syncretism, emulation, copying and materiality? How does one study synthetics in the colonial period? Do the differences between European and American languages affect space, vision and object? How do text and image operate in the various publics of Mexico and Peru?
Theories and Methodologies in the History of Art and Architecture
A team-taught course led by the DGS based on exemplary readings designed to introduce students to a wide range of art-historical methods.
Freshman Seminar 61v
Dada and Bauhaus: 100 years
This seminar takes its departure from the fact that Dada and Bauhaus, two of the most important artistic movements of the twentieth century, have been recently celebrated and rediscovered, and newly researched by a number of scholars and curators, partially in response to their respective centennial. Dada was founded in Zürich in 1916, the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1919, and both formations were intensely international from the very beginning, unifying artists from many different European countries (Austria, France , Germany Hungary, Rumania, Russia, , Switzerland), to engender two astonishingly complex group formations. All the more amazing is the fact that these two groups were pursuing utterly opposite goals in their practices, in fact one could consider them the extreme poles of the twentieth century. Dada’s goals were primarily anarchist and anti-aesthetic, yet politically often radical and progressive, and Dada was not accidentally the first avant-garde movement to include a large number of female artists in its midst. The Bauhaus, by contrast, while having its own political perspectives ranging from Social Democratic and Socialist positions to a more affirmative production- oriented liberal democratic orientation, aimed for the improvement of everyday life for the social collective as a result of design and production of consumer goods and transformed architectural conditions. The course will focus on individual practices as much as it will develop a critical comparative reading of the various features of the group identities. Throughout the semester, we will be reading original documents and manifestoes, as much as the writings of the artists, complemented obviously with key critical essays that make up the most important recent art historical literature on both subjects. The final two meetings of the course will also address the tremendous impact that both formations had on American art of the 1950s and 1960s, ranging from the foundation of the Chicago Bauhaus / Institute of Design, and Black Mountain College both institutions which explicitly modelled themselves on the Bauhaus and brought former faculty members from the Bauhaus to the United States, as much as we will trace the enormously important influence that the rediscovery of the Dada legacies had on the development of artistic practices after Abstract Expressionism such as Pop Art and Fluxus in the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Joyce to Homer
2,500 years of essential works, taught by six professors. Humanities 10b is open only to students who completed Humanities 10a in Fall 2017. Humanities 10b includes works by Joyce, Nietzsche, Shelley, Rousseau, More, Machiavelli, Murasaki, Bai Juyi, Augustine, Plato, Sophocles, and Homer. One 90-minute lecture plus a 90-minute discussion seminar led by the professors every week. Students continue to receive instruction in critical writing one hour a week, in writing labs and individual conferences. Students also have opportunities to visit cultural venues and attend musical and theatrical events in Cambridge or Boston.
Landmarks of World Architecture
Examines major works of world architecture and the unique aesthetic, cultural, and historical issues that frame them. Faculty members will each lecture on an outstanding example in their area of expertise, drawing from various periods and such diverse cultures as modern and contemporary Europe and America, early modern Japan, Mughal India, Renaissance and medieval Europe, and ancient Rome. Sections will develop thematically and focus on significant issues in the analysis and interpretation of architecture.
Looking Back: The Western Tradition
Jeffrey Hamburger, Joseph Koerner
The history of western art, like any story, has a plot (Antiquity, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, etc.), protagonists (Michelangelo, Picasso, Pollock), and a climax (Modern Art). By looking backward instead of forward, beginning with contemporary works and ending in the Middle Ages, this introduction to western art considers how the past continuously informs an ever-changing present. Combining the canonical with the critical, this course introduces both the western tradition and the practice of art history itself.
Truth and Deceit in Spanish Golden Age Painting
Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael
Cammy Brothers (Northeastern)
A painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci recently fetched the highest price on record for a work of art, a staggering 450 million dollars. The price speaks to the tremendous fascination certain Italian Renaissance figures still hold, 500 years after the fact. The Renaissance had many protagonists, but few loom as large as the three contemporaries and rivals who will form the focus of the course. In many regards, they shaped the notion of “genius” that we have inherited around themselves. The course builds out from these specific figures to a broader understanding of the Renaissance as an artistic and cultural phenomenon.
Architecture Studio I: Transformations
This course introduces basic architectural concepts and techniques used to address issues of form, function, ornament and material. This course provides instruction in project analysis, visualization, communication, and fabrication using both physical and digital modeling. Students proceed through a series of progressively complex investigations of transformational processes, context, program and material assemblage. As an introduction to architectural design, we will explore comprehensive and foundational design principles, skill sets and critical thinking and making. The course material will be presented through a series of presentations, exercises, workshops, reviews and discussions. This course fosters the development of a design methodology founded on thoughtful, creative and rigorous work practices in service of exploring meaningful expressions of the constructed environment.
Architecture Studio II: Connections
Architecture, as an act of design, is about placing objects the world. But architecture also fundamentally asks us to continuously engage with, and re-conceptualize, the world for which we are designing. As such, architecture as a discipline requires us to challenge our own positionality with regards to the world we all occupy.
This studio takes on the challenge through a series of design exercises focused on understanding, engaging with, and reimaging the urban condition. In this course, we will be mobilizing the autonomous architectural transformations mastered in HAA 96A to intervene with a programed architectural project designed for a specific site in Harvard Square. Students will produce projects that address existing site conditions, and will develop designs in response to a determined program. Students will be expected to take into account projected occupants and other users of the site. Throughout the course, we will approach architectural design as both a method of producing urban environments, and also as an avenue through which to understand our cities. We will be directly confronting the social, environmental, and cultural contexts that are necessarily implicated in any design process.
The studio centers on three progressive design assignments, culminating in an architectural project for a site in Harvard Square. Design exercises will be supplemented with a series of short readings. Technical workshops will allow students to further develop skills in mapping, rendering, and simple animation.
Sophomore Excursion Seminar: Berlin
Benjamin Buchloh, Patricio del Real
This course introduces sophomore concentrators to on-site study of art and architecture through the case study of a particular geographic and cultural area. This year: Germany.
The Art of Death: Funerary Monuments in the Mediterranean
Rome Eternal City
An architectural history of Rome from the empire through the early Christian and medieval city, the Renaissance revival of antiquity, Baroque planning, and early archeology to Fascism and modernism, including the imperial fora, aqueducts, fountains, medieval basilicas, the piazza, villas, gardens, St. Peter's and the Vatican complex.
Architecture and Authoritarianism in the 20th C.
Patricio del Real
In this proseminar, we will explore the topic of authority in architecture by analyzing authoritarian regimes and their architectural production in Europe, Africa and the Americas, as well as the material and intellectual connections between these geographies. By examining the techniques, sources and strategies through which architecture has established its authority, we will uncover the ways these have intersected the sphere of politics, government and national sovereignty in the 20th Century. A particular focus will be placed on the contexts where dictatorships have toppled democratic forms of government. Our aim is to go beyond the notion of an architecture in the service of the state, and to engage the diverse fields of power that come together in architecture.
Japanese Woodblock Prints
A thorough introduction to the history of the Japanese woodblock print, based upon first-hand study of the Sackler and MFA collections. Technical and stylistic change will be studied within the context of the evolving conditions of the publishing industry, theater world, and urban prostitution during Japan's Edo period (1600-1868). Developments in the modern era and various aspects of the Euro-American reception will also be considered.
Painting of India
The course explores the history of Indian painting based on the collections of Harvard Art Museums and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. We will investigate the theory of pictorial form in India and its relationship to the society at large against the historical currents by probing the development and changes in artistic styles and material culture of painting production. We will pay particular attention to the role of media, such as palm-leaf, birch bark, paper, and pigments, along with consideration of changing symbolic and material meanings of color. Regular visits (sections) to the museums and conservations labs to examine the paintings in person are to be scheduled throughout the semester.
African and African-American Studies 185x
What is Black Art? African American Cultural Production from the Early Republic to Civil Rights
This course surveys the history of African American Art from the colonial period to the long Civil Rights movement in the context of larger aesthetic and social movements. Taught in the Harvard Art Museums’ study center, this undergraduate seminar (also open to graduates) culminates by students curating their own online exhibition as the final project, presenting it to the class for discussion. Each week, the course will incorporate object study to examine the full range of African American cultural expression and strategies: craft, painting, printmaking, photography, film, and art political collectives. Seminar discussions will focus on works and their key thematics in artistic production—survival, retention, creolization, the politics of “black art” aesthetics and exhibitions, and the question of genre, such as the freedom and costs of abstraction, and politics of racial representation. The dual aim of this course is to give students of all backgrounds and concentrations an understanding of core topics in African American Art and a critical analysis of a work of art that can be developed into larger research projects.
Books and Things in Spanish America
Visual and Environmental Studies 215
Jennifer Roberts, Matt Saunders
Incorporating both studio and seminar instruction, this intensive course will explore printmaking’s history, trace its particular forms of intelligence, and test its future potential. The class will meet for three hours of studio and two hours of seminar/discussion per week. Assignments will include weekly readings, a short scholarly paper, and two studio projects. For the first half of the semester, students will pursue a rigorous grounding in a particular historical technique (etching/intaglio); in the second half students will translate what they have learned to another medium, thus exploring printmaking as an expanded field of practice.
Early Print Culture: Representations of the Islamic East
Joseph Koerner, Gulru Necipoglu
Explores depictions of the Islamic East by European printmakers circa 1450 - 1600 and reciprocal construction of “Europe” through these and other depictions. Focusses on original objects in Harvard’s collections; classes taught in Art Study Center, Harvard Art Museums
Illustrating the Word: Images from the Byzantine World
The seminar will study illustrated manuscripts that were produced in the Byzantine world from the 9th to the 15th century. Most of them are books, which contain religious texts: Old Testament, Gospels, Psalters etc. Several are treatises on a variety of subjects as well as of a historical nature. Some were produced at the imperial court workshops, many at monastic foundations and others in artists’ ateliers. Many were however for personal use. The type or choice of illustration varied according to period, function and patron. All these questions will be addressed during the course of the semester.
Medieval Studies 250
At Cross Purposes: The Crusades in Material Culture
Crusading expeditions in the Holy Land, Spain and Eastern Europe from 1096 until the end of the Middle Ages shaped the political, socio-economic and cultural map of Europe and the Middle East. This course explores the multifaceted encounters between crusaders, Byzantines, Jews, Armenians and Muslims through the material traces they left behind: architecture, Byzantine objects dispersed across Western Europe, coins, sculptures, frescoes, and manuscripts from the East and the West.
Antiquity in Ruins: The Renaissance Imaginary
Cammy Brothers (Northeastern)
Why and when did broken things come to be valued as objects of aesthetic appreciation? The seminar begins with Petrarch and his idea of fragments, and follows the trail through the fifteenth and sixteenth century, when artists, sculptors, architects and humanists took a passionate interest in fragments and ruins of all kinds. They fix them, they draw them, they depict them, they reuse them, and they learn from them. The course considers and interrogates each of these manifestations of interest. While the idea of the classicism we have inherited from the 18th century suggests a static and authoritative past, in the Renaissance the interpretation of antiquity was a topic of great contention. As we delve into these debates, we explore what counted as ancient, how artists imitated and competed with the past, and how they remade it.
Picturing America: Photography, Race, and Citizenship
What images have had agency and persuasive efficacy in the contestation of racial inequality and social justice in the United States? This course, open to graduate students as well as undergraduates, examines the way that photography has both solidified and challenged the construction of racial categories and contributed to the work in the long civil rights movement in America. The course will focus have a heavy emphasis on both film photography, closely examining the work of artists including Edward Curtis, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Lewis Hine, Deana Lawson, Charles Moore, Gordon Parks, Bradford Young, Carrie Mae Weems, and Joseph T. Zealy.
Classes will include a trip to the Gordon Parks archive and the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. The course will also have guest visits from cinematographer Bradford Young and photographer Deana Lawson.
Minding Making: Art History and Artisinal Intelligence
Jennifer Roberts, Ethan Lasser
If the artisanal and technical skills behind artmaking are forms of knowledge, how can (or should) that knowledge be integrated into the analytical methods of art history? This seminar will provide a wide-ranging exploration of this question, examining theories of craftsmanship, fabrication, and material reciprocity, debates over the concept of "tacit intelligence" and the value of making or remaking as historical method, issues of skill and deskilling on the part of both artists and art historians, and the challenge of exhibiting making in an art museum context. We will explore the transformative possibilities of rigorous attention to making, such as its potential to create forms of interpretation that cut across the fine, decorative, and industrial arts. The course will include close looking sessions in the Harvard Art Museums, hands-on making exercises, and visits from guest artisans.
Graduate seminar exploring the intersection of the field of art history with the globalized art world. What is "contemporary art" - in theory, in practice, and in history?
Buddhist Cave Visualization
The caves at Dunhuang are among the largest Buddhist cave complexes in the world, spanning the fourth to the fourteenth century. With 492 caves decorated with murals and sculptures, Dunhuang is the largest art gallery in situ in the world. The course explores the visual programs of Dunhuang caves. The disparate textual sources on which the murals are based do not explain their convergence in the same cave. A deep logic of world-making binds them together. Using available digital reconstructions that proffer spatial experience of the Dunhuang caves, we address some key questions: how do disparate murals add up? How does the cave visualize and stage the Buddhist mental cosmos?
The Lotus Sutra
Melissa McCormick, Ryuichi Abe
Buddhist Monuments of the World
Yukio Lippit, Jinah Kim, Eugene Wang
This graduate seminar examines architectural monuments of the Buddhist world, including sites in South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, Central Asia, China, Korea, and Japan. It is intended to develop an introductory lecture course that will be taught the following academic year. Themes for exploration include cosmology, pilgrimage, ritual, materiality, relics, meditation, world-making, and the relationship between Buddhism and local religions.
Works of Art: Materials, Forms, Histories
A series of team-taught workshops designed to sharpen skills in the observation, analysis, and historical interpretation of works of art and architecture.