By 1962, the movement known as Pop Art had been identified on both sides of the Atlantic. Although generally seen as an American phenomenon, Pop Art had developed simultaneously from the mid-1950’s and, although different in form, artists from both countries drew on the same source material, namely the post WWII proliferation of media imagery such as movies, television, advertising, fashion, and music—especially Rock and Roll. In America the proto-pop works of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschanberg paved the way for Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and Robert Indiana. In the U.K. Eduardo Paolozzi and Richard Hamilton created the wave of works that could clearly be identified as Pop Art. A second wave included Peter Blake (perhaps best known for his iconic cover for the Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), Joe Tilson, and Richard Smith. By 1962 a third generation further defined the movement in the work of such artists as David Hockney, R. B. Kitaj, Derek Boshier, Allen Jones, Peter Phillips, Clive Barker, and Gerald Laing. This course will clarify the dualism of the movement and be extensively illustrated with rarely seen images from both countries. David E. Brauer is recognized as a leading expert on Pop Art, having co-curated and written catalogue entries for major Pop Art exhibitions in Houston, London, and Germany.
It is not uncommon for screenplay authors and film directors, poets and painters, and sculptors and architects to work together on projects and share the credit for the project’s creative genius. Like in any other field of artistic endeavors collaborations are very common in the film industry, most often between a director or producer and the film’s editor. Less common, but often just as fruitful a collaboration, comes from the partnership of two directors sharing the leadership and directing the artistic vision of a film. In this class, we will examine three films from the three most famous, well-regarded directorial duos—the multi-faceted, genre hopping, (and a personal favorite of Hannah’s) Coen brothers; the wacky, weird, and wonderful Wachowski siblings; and the Belgian, left-wing filmmaking brothers of Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne. In analyzing the work of the three most famous duo movie directors, we will define each individual director’s directorial style and cinematic themes as well as determine what makes an influential director. This will be complicated when we uncover the tensions between the two directors, both with particular artistic visions, on the same film. We will examine the following three films: • Coen brothers, Raising Arizona (1987) • The Wachowskis, The Matrix (1999) • Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, L’Enfant (The Child) (2005)
This is the Age of Museums. All over the world, new museums open and old ones expand. Visitation has never been higher. This is not limited to the great and famous museums, but also the smaller and less celebrated ones. In this course we will discover these lesser-known gems of the art museum world, at least lesser known to Americans. From Australia to Abu Dhabi, Toronto to Taipei, Basel to Barcelona, Toledo (in Ohio) to Louisiana (in Denmark), forget London and Paris rather think Liverpool and Strasbourg instead—this class will be a globetrotting tour of art museums for those who are tired of standing in line to see the Mona Lisa.
In anticipation of a major loan exhibition coming to the MFAH from the National Portrait Gallery London, this course will be dedicated to the fascinating personalities that dominated English history over the course of about 500 years. The most famous portraits like Hans Holbein the Younger’s insightful depiction of Henry VIII, the “Ditchley Portrait” of Elizabeth I, which shows her in all her regal glory standing on a map of England, and the charming family portrait of the children of King Charles I will be the highlights of the Tudor and Stuart period. They will be followed by those of the “gorgeous” Georgians—with an emphasis on George III (the king who lost the Colonies), whose actual coronation robes will allow for interesting comparisons. The long reign of Queen Victoria will be amply discussed, as will the elegant Edwardians, especially Princess Alexandra, the fashion icon of her day. Naturally, the Windsor family from George V to Princes William and Harry and their spouses will be discussed in depth. Above all, it will be an examination of the changing perceptions of monarchy by the kings and queens themselves, by their portraitists, and by the public.
Our two-semester study of romantic comedies has taken us through a variety of romances. Such works have found a myriad of ways of keeping the lovers apart before bringing them together: commitments to someone else, failure to meet, divorce from the lover they eventually remarry, dislike that only gradually changes to love, and fantasies about someone else. In the films we will explore this semester some of these patterns get repeated in similar forms. In two of the comedies we will study, disguise—as a different sex—both encourages and makes romance impossible. Two of the greatest comedies ever made, Some Like It Hot and Tootsie, take this form and provide complexities that produce, at times, brilliant slapstick entertainment. Another, more classic romantic comedy, and probably Woody Allen’s best picture, Annie Hall, presents different views of romance, relationships, and fame. And yet another film, While You Were Sleeping, provides an interesting variation on the “wrong choice-of-lover” theme common to romantic comedies. In What’s Up, Doc? Peter Bogdanovich offers his own imaginative modernization of the thirties screwball comedy. Then, if we have time, I plan to explore two films that work radical changes upon the convention: one, Intern, which sort of modifies the traditional love plot and the other, Before We Go, which leaves the plot of the romance unresolved.
This course offers a panoramic overview of drawn, painted, sculpted, and photographed self-portraits in Art History from the Early Renaissance to the present day. Students will study concepts of looking in the mirror and representing one’s self in the visual arts across time. Issues of likeness, status, identity, story telling, and narcissism will be examined from the viewpoints of both the artist and the viewer. Iconic examples of self-portrayal from Dürer and Rembrandt to the Post-Modern and Contemporary period, as well as examples from the permanent collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston will be part of the course.
Unless we are Native Americans, we all came here as immigrants. We, or our ancestors, brought with us our talents, culture, and our music, which created the melting pot that is America. While all cultures contributed, in this course we will concentrate on three ethnic groups with strong musical traditions that had a profound influence on the American sound. The Celts, especially the Scots and Irish, created the foundations of our folk music. Latin Americans brought their music—a blend of Spanish, African, and indigenous sounds—influencing the music we hear in the Southwest. And African Americans have created what most musical historians consider is truly American Music—rag, blues, jazz, rhythm & blues, rock, and hip hop. We will learn about the history of these groups and explore the rich medley of their music—sacred and secular, work songs and art music, serious and joyful.
Laurence Olivier, arguably the greatest actor of the 20th century, starred in and directed five ground-breaking films of Shakespearean plays: Henry V, Hamlet, Richard III, Othello and King Lear. We will watch each of these films, noting the depth and originality of a great modern actor interpreting the work of the greatest of all classic playwrights. (A limited enrollment class)
Music has always been a part of the vanguard of cultural revolutions. We will trace this trend through Western history as we discuss why music is revolutionary and so influential in changing attitudes. The investigation begins in the courtly love songs of the Middle Ages, moves to the political activism of Mozart, Beethoven and Mahler, through the reaction of two world wars in atonal music, to the creation and appropriation of African-American culture through the lens of jazz, and finishes with Elvis, Rock and Roll, and the protest songs of the '60s.