Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Speculative Introductory Art Syllabus

Note for schools: This syllabus has never been taught, but is intended as an introductory visual art course, admittedly more painting- and Western-oriented, incorporating slide lectures and work critique. It is set to a short semester and can be expanded in weeks 3, 5 and 6 or contracted.
Reading excerpts are about 30 pages a week on average.

Janet Bruesselbach
Inverse Art History & Practice

This course will subvert the causality implied in art history surveys by beginning with the contemporary and ending with the primeval. Noisy pluralism is thus slowly peeled layer by layer down to the most multiply-influential but less physically preserved styles and imagery. Classes will alternate between slide presentations paired with seminar discussions, and active assignments aiming to progressively forget. What if you could only remember the future?
Readings will be emailed or copies distributed the week they are assigned.

Grades: 50% assignments, 40% participation, 10% responsibility

Week 1: The Present. Relational Aesthetics, art as whatever can’t be otherwise defined, Late Capitalist market context. Nominally about something else by being about itself. Read: Jameson.
Assignment: Make/bring an example of what you do next week.

Week 2: Modernism. Negational logic and an aesthetic of taking to extremes. Simplicity and alienation. Read: Greene
Assignment: Make something that desires to be nothing more or less than itself. Think about what the most basic aspects of a visual statement are. Due Week 4.

Week 3: Realism and impressionism; imperialist appropriation. An isolation of perception and a re-observation of the everyday.
Assignment: Make something whose goal is observed representation of reality. Think ambitious, labor-intensive, scientific. Due Week 7.

Week 4: Romantic &. Academic: The beginnings of political modernity. Aiming for the representation of an idea. The dialectic.
Read: Hegel (tbd), Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Week 5: Rococo, Baroque, Mannerist. Art the same as entertainment. Popular and theatrical, art serves those in power: the church, increasingly. Decadence -> drama -> systematized. The significance of light.
Read: Kant (tbd).

Week 6: Early Modern / Renaissance: Exceeding the idealized era. Analysis of space and anatomy, linearity. Read: Panofsky, “Perspective as Symbolic Form”

Week 7: Gothic, Medieval: The submission of the individual to a greater social project and another world to come. Assignment critique.
Assignment: Create a sacred object. Due week 10.

Week 8: Roman: Art made by slaves / owned craftspeople. A multiple, hybrid society, homogenized brutally. Relief/pseudo-space, humanism. Read: Gibbon (tbd)

Week 9: Greek: Hellenic -> Classical -> Archaic. Harmony and the body as measure. Read: Aristotle.

Week 10: Egyptian: permanence, sustainability, timelessness – everything written in stone, taking as much time as necessary. Assignment Critique.
Final Project: visually engage as much history as possible; consider how we understand other times. Consider the present as layered pasts (Palimpsest).

Week 11: Mesopotamian: Hybrid society and the fundamental language of power.

Week 12: Neolithic & Paleolithic: Archetypal forms and the reasons for art. Cave paintings, decorated tools, venuses.

Week 13: Final project critique

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