The Modern Genius: Art and Culture in the 19th Century

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This Art History course investigates the role of the French avant-garde in developing and showcasing new modern forms and approaches to art and visual culture in the 19th century. The material addresses the most critical issues of modernity from Realism through Post-Impressionism. We will cover the stylistic changes that challenged academic art, the new subjects that confounded modern audiences, and the new roles and authority of the modern artist. To do this, we will focus on the European world through a series of video podcasts and online readings over five weeks. By the end of the course, you will understand the issues of modernity and the way that art and art-making addressed these issues as well as recognize the profound impact that 19th century Europe had in shaping our contemporary ideas of being “modern.”


Session 1: Modernity And Realism 
Becoming Modern Session 2: The Visual Culture Of Modern Europe: New Technologies, New Venues, New Ideas 
Century Photography & Manet: Realism beyond Courbet Session 3: Impressionism: Problems And Issues Then And Now 
Impressionism: The Heroicization of Modern Life, Complications with Painting and Envisioning Modern Sculpture Session 4: Post-Impressionism And Artistic Genius 
Post Impressionism: Cezanne’s Critique, Beyond Cezanne: George Seurat, Gaugin and Myth and Primitivism and Van Gogh – Beyond the Myth of Artistic Genius Session 5: Edges And Resistance 
The Arts and Crafts Movement and Art Nouveau