These lectures will explore the complex interrelations between the arts—primarily but not exclusively painting—and science, from the 15th century to the present. We will begin by examining the essential role that painting played in the emergence of modern science during the Renaissance. We will discuss a number of relevant Renaissance artists while focusing on the work of Galileo Galilei. Galileo is the person who brought modern science into being and he accomplished this by virtue of his knowledge of the arts, in particular, his knowledge of perspective. Next we will survey the overall scientific-philosophical view of the universe developed by the likes of Descartes and Newton during the 17th and 18th centuries and the diverse reactions that artists had vis-à-vis this view. Along the way we will review the controversial thesis of David Hockney about the use of optical devices by painters since the 15th century. Next we will turn our attention to the profound crisis that science as well as the arts underwent at the turn of the 20th century. The scientific theories of Relativity and Quantum and Modern Art’s Cubism, Futurism, Abstraction, Surrealism did have an effect on each other. Finally, we will conclude our survey by perusing the standing of contemporary art in our increasingly computerized modern world.
In this course, we will examine three legendary directors—Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, and Martin Scorsese—and their most iconic films, seeking to understand the films as the product of each of their singular artistic visions. Throughout the course, students will learn basic film theory and see how understanding directors of films as analogous to the authors of literature came to be the dominant paradigm in film analysis. In analyzing the work of major movie directors, we will define individual director’s directorial style and cinematic themes as well as determine what makes an influential director. We will consider these directors’ legacies and influence on the film industry. Students will leave the course with an understanding of how directors combine all elements of movie making (screenplay writing, cinematography, editing, sound, and managing actors’/actresses’ performances) to convey their own artistic ideas.
In this course, we will explore the development of visual arts in Texas from the 1950s through today, focusing on Modern and Contemporary art, within a national and global context. We will examine the development and continued presence of abstraction in the Texas art scene, providing the context of modernist abstraction and its place in the history of Texas art. As mid-century abstraction was accepted by many of the most significant Texas artists working at that time, their work informed and influenced today’s contemporary artists; thus, we will look at contemporary artists working in Texas in relation to their predecessors and the artistic dialogues that continue across time. The course will be broken into three classroom seminars covering Early Texas Modernism, Post-War Texas Art, Modernism, and Contemporary, which will be followed by three field visits to prominent collections of Texas art in both private and public collections in the Houston area as well as artist studio visits. (Limited to 25 students)
This class will take students on a journey of understanding the style and characteristics of major art history movements from the 19th century to the present. We will study art movements from Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, Pointillism, and Symbolism all the way to Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, New Realism, Minimalism, and Hyperrealism. Emphasis will be not only on stylistic developments, but also on the way artists interacted with the ideas and values of their culture and time. Analyzing artworks from the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Menil will be an integral part of the class.
Musical Theatre is a true American art form—no other theatrical presentation can boast the same pedigree. Through extravagant singing and dancing, they capture our hearts and minds anew each season. The magic of the musical happens in the music—we are able to understand and empathize with the protagonists in a way that is deep, complex, and effortless. We will delve into your favorite musicals and learn how the composers and the playwrights crafted the shows that you love, why opinions differ so widely in the appreciation of this art form, and listen to some great music. The musicals we will cover in this session include Rodger & Hammerstein’s groundbreaking "Carousel", Cole Porter’s "Kiss Me Kate", Wilson’s "The Music Man", Bock & Harnick’s "Fiddler on the Roof", Sondheim’s "Into the Woods", and the international sensation "Les Miserables". You will be humming a tune after each class!
Though far from complete, the modern history of women in art can be seen as beginning with Linda Nochlin’s article “Why Are There No Great Women Artists?” published in 1971. Many exhibitions, books and articles soon followed. We will navigate this history, beginning in the Renaissance with Sofonisba Anguissola, the first Italian woman artist to become an international celebrity; followed by Lavinia Fontana, the first known woman painter to have a “normal” artistic career, working in all genres, leaving over 100 documented works. From then on, the known number of women artists steadily increases through the 17th century with Artemesia Gentileschi in Italy and Judith Leyster in Holland. The 18th century sees a further increase in both successful and famous women artists such as Rosalba Carriera, and Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun. The 19th century development of modernism sharply increases the possibilities for women artists through the 20th century with many significant figures such as Käthe Kollwitz, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Lyubov Popova, and Georgia O’Keefe, to name but a few. The contemporary scene abounds with major women artists, too numerous to list here. As always, this course will be extensively illustrated with, as usual, many little-known and rarely seen works major women artists, too numerous to list here.
The concept of the solitary artist, supported by a devoted wife or by a series of devoted but slightly more fickle female muses, be they models, mistresses or both, is well documented in the history of art. But there are also a number of remarkable artistic couples, where both partners were artists in their own right, and a number of these will be the subjects of our discussion. We will consider artists from many countries and different time periods and investigate the complexities of their special relationships. Did they support and inspire each other, did they work in the same manner, or were they competitive? How did they handle success and failure, and most importantly, how did their relationship define their work? The couples we will consider are William Bouguereau and Elizabeth Jane Bouguereau, the master of French academic realism and his American wife, a former student; the Danish Impressionists Michel Peter Ancher and Ann Brødum Ancher; Vassily Kandinsky, the Russian member of the Blue Rider group of German Expressionists, and Gabrielle Münter; the French Expressionist Robert Delaunay and his Ukrainian born wife, Sonia; Pablo Picasso and Dora Maar, painter, photographer, mistress and muse; Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, the great Mexican muralist and his extraordinary wife.
At the beginning of the 19th century progressive artists began to recognize that the Greco-Roman, Renaissance tradition had become depleted. This coincided with colonial expansion, especially French into North Africa, and closer contact with the Islamic world. Artists such as Delacroix, Ingres, and Chasseriau introduced Arabic subject- matter into their paintings. With the opening up of Japan in the 1840’s, Japanese prints arrived in Europe and became influential in the development of Impressionism, indeed, the influence of Japanese wood-block prints on Manet, Whistler, Degas, Monet, and Renoir had a profound influence on Impressionism. A third influence begins with the work of Gauguin, working outside of Europe in Tahiti. French colonial expansion into sub-Saharan Africa brought many superb African artifacts to Paris where they were collected by the turn of the century. Picasso, Braque, and many other artists incorporated African imagery into their works, not only in France but beyond, as in the works of the German Expressionistists, such as Nolde and Kirchner. Later, in the 20th century, American artists looked to indigenous tribal art for inspiration, most notably Georgia O’Keefe and Marsden Hartley, followed by Jackson Pollock and other Abstract Expressionists. Without these non-Europea influences the development of western modernism would have been profoundly different. This new course will examine this topic, using many unusual rarely seen images.