The Arts in American Life: George Bellows and the Ashcan School
This seminar will offer students a one-time opportunity to prepare an exhibition for the Toledo Museum of Art and to research it on a field trip to New York City. Our focus is a painting by George Bellows that depicts the Blackwell's Island Bridge, one of the engineering feats that made New York new at the dawn of the twentieth century. Bellows and his fellow Ashcan School artists took up the challenge of making a dynamic, contemporary, urban art based in the "real life" of the changing city around them. Bellows sought out controversial subjects: tenement life, new construction that reshaped nature and destroyed old neighborhoods, the new mixing of classes, ethnicities, races and sexes, the violent spectacle of commercial entertainment. Our class will combine reading in recent art historical scholarship with research in primary sources to examine Bellows' art in many contexts. Over the course of the semester students will curate, design, create and edit texts and online materials, and prepare publicity and marketing for the exhibition, working with professionals in every department at the Toledo Museum of Art. The class will culminate in a two-day field trip to New York for a behind-the-scenes visit to the Bellows retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum (in November), and the opening of our own exhibition in Toledo. Graduate students will form a separate reading group to discuss additional assigned readings in American art history and urban representation. This class meets the Upper Level Writing Requirement Permission of instructor is required to enroll in this class.
Requirements For undergraduates: Junior or senior standing; background in art history, museum studies, American History, architectural history, American Culture, and/or Engineering; active, informed participation in class discussion; regular writing and research assignments including brief reading papers and museum labels; an 8-10 page final research paper; group work that includes leading portions of class discussion in New York. Graduate students will write the long exhibition panels, and supervise small groups of undergraduates as they work on the exhibition. Graduate writing assignments will include some critical responses to readings and a 12-page research paper. There will be a $20 copay for a mandatory half-day trip to Toledo.
Estimated cost of materials: less than $50. D. 4