ARTH 569
Gérôme Fall 2023
Division I

Class Details

This course explores work and career of Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904), perhaps the most renowned, popular, and influential artist of the later nineteenth century. With commercial and artistic relationships that spread his influence across the globe, Gérôme has come to seem very much like a highly successful contemporary artist, specifically with regard to his place in an international art world that married elite institutional practices to new technologies of reproduction, marketing techniques, and other instruments of modern mass culture. Gérôme’s fame was short lived, however. In the wake of the Modernist revolution on the one hand, and Post-Colonial critique on the other, no discussion of the artist can avoid wrestling with complaints that have left him thoroughly diminished–though less forgotten than scorned. Not only did his art, as it seemed, help perpetrate a gigantic aesthetic error, it blundered onto ethically compromising terrain. Today Gérôme stands as Exhibit A in wide-ranging critique of Orientalism’s ideological work. The course will interrogate the Modernist and Post-Colonial complaints against Gérôme in detail, even as it also explores his art from a range of other perspectives, many developed very recently. Topics include Gérôme’s relationship to photography, to Orientalism and animal studies, to the cinema, to polychrome sculpture, his approach to historical narrative, and well as his voyeurism and other other manipulations of viewer experience so critical to his art. The seminar will engage the Clark’s important collection of Gérôme paintings, and also travel to the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, conditions permitting. Students may prepare papers on any aspect of global late-nineteenth-century “academic” or “official” art that was informed by Gérôme’s example.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 16
Expected: 12
Class#: 1515
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation, presentations in seminar, research paper (approximately 20 pp)
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: MA students, then art history majors
Distributions: Division I

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