Undergraduate Seminar: Modernist Readings of Early Modern Asian Art
European and American modernists such as Manet, Cassat, Klein, Johns, and Lichetenstein have repeatedly engaged the arts of Asia with a cosmopolitanism that often clashed with the nationalist views of art historians and critics. Some, such as Clement Greenberg, dismissed the arts of Asia as irrelevant to modernist practice while some Chinese critics, such as Feng Zikai, proclaimed the ultimate triumph of Chinese art in Western modernism. Both critics, and others like them, engaged in a special type of cultural politics that originated in the 18th century in Germany and England and survives to this day. This course surveys the history of cultural politics in art, East and West, including more cosmopolitan views, from the 18th century on through the 20th. We will examine visual interpretations of Chinese and Japanese theory and practice by European and American artists. In tandem with this we will trace the history of several modernist movements informed by interest in Asian art, including Japnoisme and the fashion for Zen during the Beat generation. All along we will be seeking alternative models for understanding intercultural exchange, from Roger Fry's formalism to theories published only in the past few years. In addition to class participation, each student will write a research paper about how one modernist master responded to the art of Asia.
HISTART Categories for concentration distributions: 3. Early Modern, C. Asia