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Venice, Italy

Seminar in Modern Art

Global Temple Conference

Course Number: 
Art History
Semester(s) Offered: 
Summer 2020
Credit Hours: 

Selected topics in modern art. Past and future topics include American Early Modernism, Art Nouveau, Visionary Art, Landscape Painting, and Monumental Sculpture. Note: This course can only be taken twice for credit.

What is the value of taking this course in Venice?

This seminar will trace a history of experimental and avant-garde cinematic practice from the 1920s and 30s to the present day. We will look at the gradual conception, theorization and practice of film as a distinct art form referred to by early critics as a seventh art. The class will focus on how film, video and more recently new media have become integrated into contemporary art practices. In particular, we will use this year’s Biennale as a lab to examine contemporary media artists. How are issues of national identity and representation negotiated in contemporary global audio-visual practices where the lines between film and art are increasingly blurred in terms of production, exhibition and distribution?

The seminar will be organized roughly chronologically. We will commence with a broad survey of writings from the “silent” period, which attempt to understand and theorize what was then still a relatively new medium. We will then turn to filmic experiments, primarily in Europe, in the twenties such as Dadaism, Surrealism, Abstract or Absolute films, Symphonies and the like. Following WWII we will examine avant-garde film production in the US looking at both West Coast and East Coast examples. Close attention will be paid to specific genealogies i.e., film production which emerges out of a background in fine arts vs. a cinematic practice which comes out of the tradition of cinema. How does “underground cinema” or “structural” film fit into our rubric? At the same time we will explore European avant-garde production both from the perspective of single auteurs as well as film collectives. Our field of study will expand beyond North America and Europe to include so-called “Third Cinema.” Finally we will end with contemporary global audio-visual practice where the lines between film and art are increasingly blurred in terms of production, exhibition and distribution.  One central concern of the seminar will be how technological development affects aesthetic concerns. Thus, for example, the advent of sound significantly complicates the conception of art film, with many filmmakers and artists preferring mute images. Similarly, the shift from analogue to video and later digital production has had profound implications. What changes are brought about by contemporary installation practices, how is montage affected by multiple channels and how does looping alter narrative structure.

Graduate students will follow the same curriculum as the two undergraduate classes, will participate int he same activities. However, they will be expected to submit a more extensive final paper and to do additional readings and have one extra meeting a week.

Special Notes: 

Level Registration Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Levels: Graduate.
Degree Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Degrees: Master of Education, Master of Fine Arts.
College Restrictions: Must be enrolled in one of the following Colleges: Art, Tyler School.

Repeatability: This course may be repeated for additional credit.