HISTART 393-001

Undergraduate Seminar: Realism in Modern Art

210 Tappan
Th 10:00-1:00pm
3 Credit Seminar

This course is about realism and its political significance in the modern period. It extends from the mid- nineteenth century, a time when an art that truthfully depicted reality captured people's imagination, to the situation in the twentieth century when picturing the real took new forms in response to the challenge of abstraction . Its objectives are to explore:

  • The emergence of realism in the nineteenth century, with artists such as Courbet committed to representing visible facts and offering a critique of accepted or privileged views of the world.
  • Changes in the nature of realism as artists began to see abstraction as an important aspect of modern reality and to experiment with photography as an alternative form of image-making - as for example in the work of Jeff Wall.
  • The relationship between realism as an artistic commitment and the commitment to engage with issues of a social and political nature.
  • How realism has been a way of picturing and interpreting reality requiring imagination as much as any kind of art, and is not just a simple factual representation of things.
  • One issue plays a central role in our exploration of the realism developed by modern artists: their commitment to picturing everyday and lower class life and engage with social and political realities that are not normally the concern of high art.

    Course Requirements:
    Participation 10%
    Mid-term test 20%
    Short (ten minute) class presentation based on topic chosen for essay 20%
    Essay (at least 15 pages) due at the end of term 50%

    Intended Audience: Upper level undergraduates with a background in modern art

    Class Format: 3-hour seminar

    Estimated Cost of Materials: $0-$50.

    HISTART Categories for Concentration Distributions: 4. Modern and Contemporary, D. Europe and the US