Wednesday, January 5, 2011

SMU course descriptions

Why Is That A Masterpiece? – Ways of interpreting and understanding great art of the modern era

Have you ever wondered why some artworks, and the artists who made them, are so famous (or infamous), or why they are considered to be important?  Through the use of digital images and classroom discussion, this course will explore works of art from the modern era to discover just why these iconic works, and their often equally iconic creators, hold such a fascination for art historians, other artists and viewers.  Learn the language of art through these great works as we discuss the usage and meanings of terms such as composition, color, line, shape, volume, perspective, the picture plane and picture space; such art historical terms as the canon of art as taught in government-sponsored academies; the categorization of art known as the hierarchy of genres; and the meaning and origin of the names of art styles such as Impressionism and Cubism.  The art will be placed in the historical and social context of its making as we explore the events surrounding the work’s inception and creation, and how the work was received by critics, viewers, and other artists then and now. 

The course will focus on ten masterworks by major artists of the modern era.  In each of the five meetings, students will discuss two of those works in depth, exploring the artist’s intent and the work’s meaning within the larger historical and esthetic context of modern art.  Other works by the same artist, quotations of the artist from their writings and interviews, and critical reviews and texts from art historians will supplement our discussion and enhance our understanding of each work.

The concept of originality is often associated with creativity, and the success or failure of an artwork is closely tied to the artist’s knowledge, appropriation and subversion of tradition, especially in the modern era.  The identity and role of the artist in society, including how the gender of both the artist and the viewer determines the interpretation and understanding of the work, are closely bound to the limitations or freedoms artists confine themselves to or re-define. 
Late 19th century Impressionism will be represented by seminal works of Edgar Degas and Paul Cezanne; early 20th century objects by European masters Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, iconoclast Marcel Duchamp and Surrealist Rene Magritte. Works by the early American 20th century modernist Charles Sheeler will be followed by pieces of contemporary artists Ellsworth Kelly, Pop painter James Rosenquist and Conceptual artist Sol Lewitt. 
This presentation of the course will discuss works different from those included in the first offering of this course last year.

Five sessions, 90 minutes each

January 12 - February 16, 2017 (skip 2/9) (day)

February 23 - March 23, 2017 (evening)

Modern European Art from the Phillips Collection, Washington

Explore 19th and 20th century modern European art from the Phillips Collection in Washington in this three part course, presented in junction with the special exhibition A Modern Vision: European Masterworks from the Phillips Collection, on view at the Kimbell Art Museum May 14 – August 13, 2017.
This course will chart the progress of the major artists and movements of European modernism as seen through the art on loan from the Phillps Collection, and will be supplemented with discussions of pieces by other major European modernists whose work is not included in the Kimbell exhibition.  Works from the nineteenth century will include those by Bonnard, Cezanne, Chardin, Constable, Corot, Courbet, Degas, Daumier, Delacroix, Gauguin, Goya, Manet, Redon, Renoir, Rousseau, Morisot, Rodin, Seurat, Sisley, and Van Gogh; the early twentieth century will be represented with pieces by Braque, Gris, Kandinsky, Klee, Kokoschka, Matisse, Miro, Modigliani, Mondrian, Rouault, and Schwitters.  The course will conclude with a visit to the Dallas Museum of Art to discuss European modern art on view in the museum’s permanent collection galleries.  Students will compare and contrast works viewed in the classroom via digital images with original paintings and sculptures by those same European masters at the DMA.
The Phillips opened in 1921 as the first museum devoted to modern art in America, eight years ahead of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Today, the Phillips holds more than 4000 works ranging from French Impressionism to those by contemporary artists, and hosts a variety of traveling exhibitions.
Link to Phillips Collection website -
This course does not include an exhibition tour at the Kimbell.
Three meetings, 90 minutes each, including DMA tour.
April 20 - May 4, 2017 (day)
June 1-15, 2017 (evening)

American Prints at the Dallas Museum of Art

Explore the history of American printmaking from the colonial era through the twentieth century in this three part course, presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Visions of America:  Three Centuries of Prints from the National Gallery of Art at the Dallas Museum of Art from May 28 to September 4, 2017. 

The trajectory of printmaking in America parallels closely the categories of subject matter used in paintings: portraiture, particularly during the colonial era; landscape, especially prominent in nineteenth century works that incorporate images of pristine wilderness areas and the westward expansion of the United States; cityscapes that present images of twentieth century life in modern urban centers; and contemporary works depicting objects from consumer culture, or border on the purely abstract. 

Prints have been widely used for centuries as a relatively inexpensive way to disseminate images, and to make the purchase of fine art affordable for collectors.  Often, prints reproduce images of works from other media, such as painting, and help to both further the fame of the work and the reputation of the artist.  Generally, prints and other works on paper are on view in museum galleries for much shorter periods of time than paintings or sculptures due to their sensitivity to light, and are displayed with subdued and indirect illumination to protect them.  This exhibition is thus an opportunity to see in person works that are rarely exhibited, and is a sweeping survey of the history of American art as seen through the medium of printmaking.

Prints by American artists from three centuries will be discussed and compared to paintings or sculptures by those same artists and their contemporaries.  Paul Revere, Thomas Moran, Winslow Homer, James A. M. Whistler, Mary Cassatt, John Sloan, George Bellows, Edward Hopper, Diego Rivera, Romare Bearden, Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol are just a few of the 100 artists whose works are included in this touring exhibition of 150 prints.  Various printmaking techniques, such as lithography and etching, will also be examined.

Three meetings, including two classroom lectures on the SMU campus, followed by an exhibition tour at the DMA.  Exhibition admission included in course fee.
June 22 - July 6, 2017 (day)
July 13 - 27, 2017 (evening)




















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