Instructor: Patrick Crowley

Office Hours: Wednesdays from 9:30-11:30 AM in 925 Schermerhorn Hall

Course Description

This class is about looking at, thinking about, and critically discussing the visual arts. Although it is roughly chronological, it is not a historical survey. We will pay attention to a limited number of monuments and artists and consider both their formal structures and the historical contexts in which they were produced and understood. Throughout this course we will critically consider the canon of artists and works of art that the course itself establishes.


Two short papers, a midterm, and a final exam. Class attendance and informed participation are mandatory and will count toward 25% of your final grade. This portion and the remainder of the grade breakdown will be as follows:

25% class attendance and participation

10% first short paper

20% midterm

20% second short paper

25% final exam

In addition, there will be at least two scheduled visits to museums (these usually include The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA). Use of these and any other of New York’s diverse cultural resources is encouraged.

This class is discussion-based – our goal is to develop an ongoing conversation about the history and meaning of art in western civilization. Therefore, your careful preparation and active participation are crucial for all of us to have a successful section! Readings will be assigned where necessary. Your participation grade depends on your meaningful contribution to class discussions on a regular basis.

Attendance Policy

Students are expected to attend every session of their Core classes. In the event that a student must miss a class due to religious observance, illness, or family emergency, the student should provide advance notification of absence. Students who miss class without instructor permission should expect to have their grade lowered. After 2 unexcused absences, your final grade will be lowered one letter grade for every additional class missed.

Academic Integrity

Plagiarism, or the submitting of work by someone else as your own, will not be tolerated. A student that is found to have plagiarized will be given an F for the course and the appropriate Dean will be notified. Columbia's definition of plagiarism and statement on academic integrity can be found here:

It is your responsibility to review these guidelines. If you have any questions about this statement, or simply wish to ask me the appropriate way to cite a source, please see me before submitting your assignment.

Laptops, iPads, etc.

The use of laptops, tablet computers, recorders, and similar kinds of technology will not be permitted in class unless you have a valid disability (see me after class if this affects you). While I encourage the use of these tools for your personal study, I and many students often find them to be distracting during class.

Required Readings

Readings will be available online via this website.

Art Hum Website

Login: ahar

Password: 826sch


Readings on CourseWorks can be accessed here.

Semester Schedule and Assignments

NB: The following reading list and schedule is subject to change.

Readings may be accessed on the wiki pages for individual artists (located at the top left of the page).

January 23: Introduction

January 28: Foucault's Reading of "Las Meninas"

January 30: Parthenon (447-432 B.C.E): Architecture

February 4: Parthenon: Sculpture and the Classical Tradition

February 6: Notre Dame, Cathedral of Amiens

February 11: Vertical Tour of St. John the Divine (details to be discussed in class)

February 13: Raphael (1483-1520): Perspective and Sacred Geometry

February 18: Raphael: Style and Religious Patronage

February 20: Michelangelo (1475-1564): Painting

February 25: Michelangelo: Sculpture

February 27: Bernini (1598-1680): Mythology, Narrative, and the Paragone

March 4: Bernini, continued

March 6: Bruegel (1525-1569): Peasants and Social History

March 11: Bruegel: Landscape




March 25: Rembrandt (1606-1669): Self-Portraiture

March 27: Rembrandt: Dutch Group Portraiture

April 1: Goya (1746-1828): Style and Politics

April 3: Goya: Enlightenment

April 8: Claude Monet (1840-1926): Painting and Modern Life

April 10: Monet: Impressionism and the Avant-Garde

April 15: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973): Analytic Cubism

April 17: Picasso: Synthetic Cubism

April 22: Jackson Pollock (1912-1956): "The Greatest American Painter"

April 24: Andy Warhol (1928-1987): Pop Art, Commodification, and Meaning

April 29: Andy Warhol: Short Films

May 1: Linda Nochlin, "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?"

May 6: Conclusion