VAPA Courses

The courses below fulfill the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) requirement of the undergraduate Core Curriculum.

Details below are subject to change. Please confirm all information in the official Course Schedule.

Spring 2020 Courses

ARH 301
Introduction to the Visual Arts

VAPA • Global Cultures flag

This is a one-semester survey of some of the principal monuments and artists mainly, but not exclusively, of the western cultural tradition. The class will teach the student how to look at art and how to understand painting, sculpture, prints, and architecture. This course does not pretend to offer a complete survey. Instead we shall focus on a specific building (e.g.–the Parthenon or Chartres Cathedral), or city (e.g.–Rome under Emperor Trajan or Paris during the nineteenth century), or artist (e.g.–Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Picasso, or Frank Lloyd Wright) as case studies for understanding the dynamics of each period. This course includes a small discussion section each week in which works from the art of the University are analyzed. The students will explore the artistic riches of the University’s collections, such as Blanton Museum of Art.

Multiple Sections

Instructor TBA
MW 4–5:30

Moyosore Okediji
MWF 12–1

Instructor TBA
MWF 2–3

Jeffrey C. Smith
TTH 1–2 + Discussion Sections

Instructor TBA
TTH 3:30–5

ARH 302
Survey of Ancient through Medieval Art

VAPA • Global Cultures flag

Stephennie Mulder
TTH 4–5 + Discussion Sections

In candlelight 30,000 years ago, a group of early humans gathered inside a cave and painted exquisite, lifelike images of animals on the walls. Thousands of years later on the other side of the world, a Chinese potter threw an elegant celadon bowl, bound for shipment along the Silk Route to a Middle Eastern market hungry for such objects. At the same time, in southern India, a temple is rising, its walls an exuberant display of joyous, intertwined human figures. In a monastery in northern France sometime during the thirteenth century, monks bent over codices bound with animal hide and applied paper-thin gold leaf to delicate, jewel-toned manuscript paintings. Images, objects, and buildings tell stories which are immediate, profound, and deeply evocative of the human condition. Our object this semester will be to learn how to look, and how to communicate about what we see and experience when we are looking. To do this we will begin with the premise that works of art are visual conversations, and that each part of a work of art is one element in an ongoing dialogue between the maker and the viewer, each conversation ultimately an attempt to express something about what it means to be human. In this course we will explore this dialogue across time and space in order to understand art and its history in global context.

ARH 303
Survey of Renaissance through Modern Art

VAPA • Global Cultures flag

Art is a language: how do we decode its meaning, its intent, and its extraordinary effect on us, the viewers? In this course, we explore an astonishing array of Western art and architecture. Our course begins c. 1250, in the early Renaissance of Western Europe, and concludes with global artistic trends and issues that are at the heart of the art world in 2020. While we will concentrate on the familiar media of painting, sculpture, and architecture, we will also be looking at manuscripts, drawings, prints, photography, the decorative arts, garden planning, ceramics, earthworks, and installation art.

Multiple Sections

Louis Waldman
MW 11–12 + Discussion Sections

Instructor TBA
MWF 9–10

Instructor TBA
TTH 5–6:30

ARH 333L
The Age of Rembrandt and Rubens: Northern Baroque Art

VAPA • Global Cultures flag

Jeffrey C. Smith
TTH 9:30-11

This course explores Northern European art between 1580 and 1720. The focus will be on the Golden Age of Netherlandish art and culture as we investigate the creativity of Rembrandt, Jan Vermeer, Frans Hals, Judith Leyster, Rubens, and Anthony van Dyck, among other great masters. We shall discuss other major artistic centers, such as Paris and Versailles during the reign of King Louis XIV.

ARH 341K
Modern Art of Mexico

VAPA • Global Cultures flag

George Flaherty
TTH 12:30-2

Mexican art and visual culture from the late nineteenth century through the 1950s, a period characterized by rapid modernization but also violence and glaring social and political injustices. With the Mexican Revolution, the first major social upheaval of the twentieth-century (1910–20), the country became a beacon for politically committed art throughout the Americas and beyond. Emphasis will be on emergence of cosmopolitan avant-garde artists and their relationship to government and society. Mixing native and international influences, these artists, writers, and intellectuals contributed to notions of national identity (lo mexicano) that still resonate today.

ARH 347K
Art and Archaeology of Ancient Peru

VAPA • Global Cultures flag

Astrid Runggaldier
MWF 11-12

This course is intended to provide a comprehensive survey of the cultures that occupied the Andean coast and highlands prior to and immediately following the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century. Given the lack of written history prior to the Spanish arrival, investigations of the ancient Andean visual arts—the elaborate textiles, fine ceramic vessels, carved stone sculptures, and monumental architecture—have advanced through multidisciplinary approaches. We will thus examine various culture groups by engaging both the iconography and archaeology of the regional traditions. In this course, we will address pertinent environmental and ecological factors, evidence of ritual practices, such as human sacrifice and water management, techniques and materials of manufacture of art and architecture, and issues in the looting and collecting of antiquities.

ARH 347L
Mesoamerican Art and Culture

VAPA • Global Cultures flag

Julia Guernsey
TTH 9:30-11

This course surveys the art, architecture, and material culture of a number of the ancient civilizations of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, which flourished in what are now the modern countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. The course spans the time of the Olmec through that of the Aztecs, or from the 2nd millennium BC until the arrival of the Spanish in 1519. The goal of this course is to provide students with a general knowledge of the history, ritual traditions, and belief systems of ancient Mesoamericans, as expressed through sculpture, painting, architecture, archaeological remains, and ancient writing systems.

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