ARTH 587
Crash! The Car Accident as Myth and Metaphor in American Art and Visual Culture Spring 2019
Division I
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A year after MoMA elevated machinery to high art in 1934, Grant Wood painted Death on The Ridge Road (Williams College Museum of Art), a depiction of the deadly side of the streamlined modern machines that Alfred Barr might have presented at MoMA. A generation later, Andy Warhol’s Death and Disasters series multiplied gruesome images of crushed cars and bodies to numbing effect. During the ensuing years, both Jackson Pollock and David Smith (among others) became traffic fatalities. Roughly bookended by the Great Depression and the 1960s, but also considering works of art and visual materials before and after those parameters, this seminar will explore the stakes of car crash imagery for American artists and culture. Readings may include topics in trauma studies, automotive technology, physics, posthumanism, law, and object oriented ontology as well as grounding participants in American art and history of the middle third of the twentieth century. Participants in the course will also have the opportunity to help shape the content, themes, and narrative of an exhibition on car accidents in American art being organized by WCMA.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 16
Expected: 12
Class#: 3928
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: oral presentations and written assignments
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: grad students, then advanced undergrad art history majors
Distributions: Division I

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