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ARTH 200 Assignments

Spring, 2006

Tuesday, January 24: review web-page entitled First Assignments. As indicated, include in your journals your "denotative" and "connotative" readings of the Hopper painting. E-mail me your entries.

Thursday, January 26: respond to the assignment for this date included on the First Assignments web page.

Tuesday, January 31: bring a copy of your draft of your first paper to class to be workshopped. We will be examining contemporary images of women at work. Here I want to draw upon images from advertising. See the page entitled Women at Work presents a few examples I have collected. Review them in advance of the class, and be prepared to identify the codes you see in operation in these. Record your responses in your journals.

Thursday, February 2: First Paper due. Review the page entitled [Female] Nude. Focus on the comparison of the Venus of Willendorf to the Venus de Milo (aka Aphrodite of Melos). Consider the relevance of the quotations at the outset of the page to your understanding of the comparison. Review the material included on the page entitled The Social Construction of Gender.

Tuesday, February 7: Review the web page entitled Greeks and the Other. Pay special attention to the comparison of the Minoan Snake Goddess and the image of Medusa from Archaic Greek art.

Thursday, February 9: A critical moment in the history of western art is the introduction of the contrapposto pose in Greek art of the fifth century B.C. Specifically associated with the male nude figure this figure has a strong lineage in western art. This tradition is roughly outlined in the page entitled Man the Measure of Things. What do you consider to be the common characteristics of this pose? In reviewing this page pay special attention to the advertisement for the Metropolitan Museum show entitled The Greek Miracle. Pay attention particularly to the ideological implications of the text of this ad.

Temple of Zeus at Olympia.

Tuesday, February 14: As we saw on Thursday, during the fifth century B.C., the nude in Greek art signified a male figure. An important innovation during the fourth century was the introduction of the monumental nude female figure. The sculptor Praxiteles made a statue of Aphrodite for the island of Knidos. The fame of this work lead to its emulation in other works. For example the Aphrodite of Melos (aka Venus de Milo) can be seen as a direct descendent of the Knidian Aphrodite. In fact all images of the nude female in western art can be understood as descendents of this work. Compare the copies of the lost originals of Polykleitos's Doryphoros and Praxiteles Aphrodite of Knidos. Consider also the ancient literary accounts of these two works: Doryphoros and Aphrodite of Knidos. What do you see as fundamental differences between these works?

Polykleitos, Doryphoros.

Praxiteles, Venus of Knidos. Consider the comparison this Aphrodite to the Aphrodite Melos illustrated on the page entitled Hellenistic Art.

To add another dimension to our discussion consider the comparison of these two Jockey underwear ads:

Thursday, February 16: in preparation for the second paper, review the webpage entitled Advertisements. Pick out three that interest you, and in your journal try to outline a gender reading of the image. I would also encourage you to look at the page entitled "A Web Essay on the Male Gaze, Fashion Advertising, and the Pose".

Tuesday, February 21: Following the guidelines spelled out in Paper Assignment 2: Gender in Advertising bring in a group of sample ads that are potential topics for this paper. In preparation for the second paper, you might try your hand at analyzing some of the sample ads I have included on the webpage entitled Advertisements.

I want to continue our discussion of advertisements with a twist. A frequent comparison in studies of Italian Renaissance art is one between two images of David: the one by Michelangelo and one done by his great Florentine predecessor Donatello dated about 1440:

Relate this comparison to the images included on the entitled I see England, I see France.... In considering these images read the excerpts from Susan Bordo's book entitled The Male Body in which Bordo considers the re-visioning of the male body in contemporary ads for companies like Calvin Klein and Gucci. Also look at the separate page I have constructed dedicated to Calvin Klein ads.

February 23: In this course, it would be impossible to do a systematic study of gender in the art of western culture. Consequently, I want to do a major jump from our examination of ancient Greek art to a work from the early fifteenth century. The work I want to consider is the calendar illustrations in the Très riches heures a prayer book made for a member of the French royal family, Jean de Berry. The manuscript was left unfinished at the time of the Duke's death in 1416. Study of the illustrations will demonstrate how it is a good bridge between the preceding Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Review the web page that I have constructed looking at some of the calendar pages of the Très riches heures. Respond to the question that I raise.

Tuesday, March 7: bring drafts of second paper to class to workshop.

It is significant the number of major works of Renaissance art that focus on the question of gender. Any consideration of Northern Renaissance art needs to take into consideration Jan Van Eyck's so-called Arnolfini Wedding Portrait. While scholars debate about whether this is a wedding portrait or not, there is no question that the relationship of the man (Giovanni Arnolfini, an Italian merchant active in the Netherlands) and woman (Giovanna Cenami, a daughter of prominent, Italian merchant family also active in Northern Europe) is central to the content of the painting. Review the webpage I have created for the Arnolfini Wedding Portrait. A significant issue in the painting is the question of the social role of women and marriage as an institution in the fifteenth century. To give you some historical context read the page entitled Women in Renaissance Florence. For more information on the social standing of Jan Van Eyck, review the page focused on Van Eyck as a Court Painter that I have developed for my Northern Renaissance Art class. As I have asked you in the page dedicated to the Arnolfini Wedding Portrait, try to write a narrative based on the painting and its details.

Thursday, March 9: Second Paper is due. We will shift our focus from northern Europe to Italy. I want to explore the gender construction of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, but to do this it is important to understand the social and artistic contexts for the painting in order to appreciate the innovations in Leonardo's painting. Today's class will examine these contexts. Read the excerpts from the essay by Dale Kent "Women in Renaissance Florence" which is included in the exhibition catalog entitled: Virtue and Beauty. Also read the excerpts from Patricia Simons's article "Women in Frames: The Gaze, the Eye, the Profile in Renaissance Portraiture." Review also the page I have dedicated to the frescos in the Tournabuoni Chapel. These provide us with interesting insights that gender played in the civic life of Florence.

Tuesday, March 14: No survey of western art since the Renaissance can ignore an examination of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. In the context of our discussion of the construction of gender in art, this painting can also claim a central place. To give a recent critical perspective on Leonardo's Mona Lisa, read the excerpts from Mary Garrard's article "Leonardo da Vinci: Female Portraits, Female Nature."

As evident in Garrard's article, the Mona Lisa represents a major break from the earlier fifteenth century images of women. Review the Kent and Simon's articles to get a sense of the preceding tradition. On the basis of your reading of these articles, respond in your journals to the comparison below:

Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, c. 1503-1515?

Attributed to Domenico Ghirlandaio, Portraits of a Young Man and a Young Woman, c. 1490.

See the page I have constructed for my Italian Renaissance art class on Renaissance Images of Women.

Thursday, March 16: We will continue our discussion of images of women in Italian Renaissance art, by examining the development of the female nude. We will focus in particular on the Venetian artist, Titian's Venus of Urbino. Although not the first female nude in the Renaissance, this work has come to play a central role in the development of this category of art. I have prepared a webpage on the Venus of Urbino which includes some of the recent scholarly responses to this work. In reviewing this material pay attention to the connections you notice to the material included in the earlier material we have discussed.

Like you did at the beginning of our discussion of Hopper's painting Office at Night, I would like you to write down what you understand as the denotative and connotative meanings of the Venus of Urbino. To determine the connotative meanings you are going to draw from the material included in the webpages. Record your responses to this in your journals

Tuesday, March 21: Michelangelo's Creation of Adam is a major artistic statement articulating the Renaissance conception of man and the power of the artist. It also can be tied to European culture's attitude about itself in relationship to the world. Consider the comparison between Michelangelo's Creation of Adam and the late sixteenth century image of Amerigo Vespucci 'Discovering' America. Consider also the comparison of the Creation of Adam to Albrecht Dürer's image of Draughtsman Drawing a Nude. Review these excerpts on these webpages. Also relate these images to the binaries we began to establish in our comparison of Titian's Venus of Urbino to Michelangelo's David.

Thursday, March 23: Class is cancelled today.

Tuesday, March 28: Examination of any of the traditional surveys of Western Art reveals that a good number of the "masterpieces" of sixteenth and seventeenth century art focus on the subject of rape. In a web-page entitled Authoritative and Disciplined Discussions of Masterpieces, I have included excerpts from some of these surveys discussing some of these images of rape. Read these texts and consider how the art historian deals with or does not deal with the subject of rape. These images have been reexamined from a feminist perspective. Read the excerpt from the article by Margaret D. Carroll entitled "The Erotics of Absolutism: Rubens and the Mystification of Sexual Violence" and from the book by Diane Wolfthal entitled Images of Rape: the "Heroic" Tradition and its Alternatives. I realize that this assignment entails a fair amount of reading, but I remind you that the success of our discussion depends on your careful reading and consideration of this material. My intention is to both become aware of a particular category of subject matter in western art and to critically examine how traditional art history has approached this subject.

Thursday, March 30: A popular subject matter in sixteenth and seventeenth century art was the story of Susanna and the Elders. Read the webpage dedicated to this topic. Included on this webpage is the Biblical source for the subject. Consider how well the images represent the subject, and try to answer why this subject would be so popular during the period.

Tuesday, April 4: e-mail me your proposed topic for your Third Paper. I intend to show a video dedicated to the art of the Dutch seventeenth century painter Jan Vermeer. His paintings are very interesting to look at from the point of view of gender. Many of his images focuses on the private world of the Dutch domestic interior. I have created a web-page dedicated to some of the major examples of Vermeer's work. (Vermeer) Select one of these image. In your journal write a gender reading of the painting. I also encourage you to explore the links I have included on the page for supplementary material.

Tuesday, April 11: we will consider gender construction in 18th century French art. This century began with the period we call the Rococo and ended with Neo-Classicism. French Rococo art is exemplified by the paintings of Antoine Watteau (see the slide list for my ARTH 110 course for examples of Watteau's work). One of the most famous Rococo images is that by Jean Honoré Fragonard entitled the Happy Accidents of the Swing. Read the excerpt from a textbook account of The Swing. The attitudes expressed in Watteau's and Fragonard's art are in marked contrast to that of Neo-Classicism as exemplified by Jacques Louis David's famous painting The Oath of the Horatii of 1784-85:

Do a gender reading of David's painting. Pay careful attention to the binary oppositions employed to distinguish male and female. To give you a context for understanding David's painting read the excerpt discussing the painting and the art of the salon.

Tuesday, April 18: We do have class today. We will turn to an examination of nineteenth century art. I have prepared a gallery of examples of Nineteenth-Century Images of Women. Review these images. Select three of these, a outline your gender reading of these images in your journal. If you are interested in the theme of Orientalism you can consult the webpage that I have begun to construct dedicated to this topic. The page includes some excerpts from Edward Said's influential book entitled Orientalism. Pay attention to the eerie echoes of our current foreign policy debates.

Thursday, April 20: bring a copy of a draft of your Third Paper to class. We will focus particularly on Manet's Olympia. On the webpage I have dedicated to this painting, I have included some excerpts of the contemporary critical responses to the painting. Why would would this image seem scandalous when paintings like Titian's Venus of Urbino, which is a direct source for the Manet painting, were treated as revered masterpieces. At the same time a painting like Alexander Cabanel's Birth of Venus was an award winner at the Salon.

Tuesday, April 25: Final Draft of Third Paper is due. I would also like you to read the excerpts from Griselda Pollock's "Modernity and the Spaces of Femininity." This is a challenging article, but if you put the time into it, you will find it opens up interesting critical perspectives. There are some excellent comparisons between male and female artists' visions of gender included in the article.

Thursday, April 27: we will be focusing on the art of Post-Impressionism, more specifically that of Paul Gauguin. Where the Impressionists have been called the "painters of the modern world", Gauguin withdrew from the modern world in search of something he deemed more authentic and essential. After a stay in the province of Brittanny, Gauguin left Europe for the south Pacific. Central to an understanding of Gauguin's art is coming to an understanding of the concept of the "primitive" as it developed in European culture at the end of the nineteenth century. The fascination with the "primitive" would be an important current in the development of Modern Art. Review the page I have constructed giving recent critical evaluations of the idea of the "primitive." Consider Gauguin's paintings included on the web-page dedicated to Nineteenth-Century Images of Women. Note the central role gender and more specifically the female body play in his art.

If we have the time, I would like to also consider the art of Edvard Munch. Here I would like to consider his work entitled Madonna.

Tuesday, May 2: I want to consider one of the major artistic statements of Modern Art, Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. I want to examine it in the context it plays in the narratives of the development of Modern Art. This narrative is made manifest not just in the art historical discussions, but in the lay-out of museums. Read the excerpts from Carol Duncan's essay entitled "The MoMA's Hot Mamas." This essay makes explicit the central role the female body has played in the development of Modern Art. See the connections between the art of Picasso and de Kooning discussed in Duncan's essay and the art of Gauguin and Munch we discussed on Thursday.

Thursday, May 4: I have constructed a webpage dedicated to the Art of Frida Kahlo. With the development of feminist perspectives and the emphasis on cultural identity in recent critical discussions, the work of Frida Kahlo has attracted more scholarly and popular attention. As you review the gallery of her work, consider her identity in relationship to contemporary discussions of Identity and Difference. Identify the different cultural, social, and artistic traditions that you can detect in her work. An aspect of Kahlo's work that is interesting the context of our earlier discussions is that many of her paintings are based on binaries. Compare Kahlo's use of binaries to what we have come to expect in western art.

Fourth Paper, due May 11: You are given the assignment to organize an exhibition around a major theme related to Gender and Art. To form the nucleus for the exhibition you need to identify three works that will be the focus of your exhibition. These can include works discussed in this course, or you can select works we have not discussed. You are asked to write a 3-5 page paper identifying your choice of works and justifying their inclusion into the exhibition. How do the works relate to each other, and how do they illustrate different aspects of the topic.

Thursday, May 11: Final Meeting, scheduled from 9:00-10:30 (note the change in the starting time). Journals and Writing Portfolios including the Fourth Paper are due at this time. Material turned in after this time will not be considered.

We will consider the work of Cindy Sherman and Jenny Saville. Consider these two artists' self-representations. As part of your consideration of the Saville painting entitled The Plan compare it to the image of Albrecht Dürer of the artist drawing the nude.

Consider also the comparison of the Jenny Saville's The Plan to the Paleolithic statuette known as the Venus of Willendorf:


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