ARTH 558
Circa 1850: Artistic Currents and Cross-Currents Spring 2024
Division I

Class Details

Although the history of nineteenth-century European art has often been narrated as a succession of “sms,” the notion of discrete artistic movements following one upon the other is of course highly misleading. Despite common perceptions of Realism as the prevailing force at mid-century, many contradictory impulses were simultaneously at work. The Romantic strain in visual art continued, though sometimes in sublimated form, and historicizing and avant-garde perspectives alike jockeyed for influence in art criticism, sales rooms, and exhibition venues. Abetting this collision of styles was a proliferation of new media in visual culture more broadly. Focusing on European and American examples from the middle decades of the nineteenth century, this course addresses the emergence of new tendencies in art and the persistence or revival of old ones. We will explore a variety of topics, including the invention of photography and its impact on other image-making techniques; the opening of Japan and the vogue for Japonisme; medieval nostalgia in the face of rampant Haussmannization; and the role of tradition in vanguard art. On the American side, we will consider printmaking and photography as tools of documentation and self-fashioning during the Civil War era. This course will take place in the Manton Study Center for Works on Paper. Each session will engage directly with works from the Clark’s collection, to be discussed and analyzed in conjunction with critical and theoretical readings.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 16
Expected: 12
Class#: 3483
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Reading/writing assignments, participation.
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Graduate students first. Undergraduates must receive permission from the instructor.
Distributions: Division I
Attributes: ARTH post-1800 Courses

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