The Connoisseurs Circle Courses
Connoisseurs Circle members may audit all lecture courses at the IFA. Registration is not required.
Registration and pre-approval is required to audit a colloquium. To register, please contact Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-992-5812. Members are permitted to audit one to two colloquia per semester, based on availability.
Fall 2014 (For the Spring 2015 courses, click here)
September 2 through December 12
Courses Available to the Connoisseurs Circle
TELL EL AMARNA: A UNIQUE AND CONTROVERSIAL INITIATIVE IN ANCIENT EGYPTIAN CITY PLANNING
David O’ Connor
Monday 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Tell el Amarna is the only ancient Egyptian city that has been extensively excavated. As a major but short-lived site, it provides unique insight into ancient Egyptian concepts and practices with regard to urbanism. Founded by the so-called “heretic” pharaoh Akhenaten (ca. 1353-1336 BCE), who imposed a monotheistic form of religion on the polytheistic Egyptians, Tell el Amarna was abandoned after his death, but because it was located on a dry desert site, remained accessible to archaeologists who have excavated and studied the city for over a hundred years. This course will explore the ancient city and link together a wide variety of architectural, art historical and textual sources. Suggested reading: David Silverman, Josef W. Wegner and Jennifer Houser Wegner; Akhenaten and Tutankhamun. Revolution and Restoration, 2006
ALIEN RULE: ART AND MATERIAL CULTURE IN CHINA FROM THE TENTH TO FOURTEENTH CENTURIES
Tuesday 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
This lecture series surveys key monuments of art made in the non-Han regimes of Liao, Jin, Xixia and Yuan, from approximately the tenth to the fourteenth century CE. Focus is on amalgamation and reinterpretation of different ideas and artistic traditions into what is now understood as Chinese art. Media to be explored include painting, calligraphy, sculpture, textiles, export, ceramics, and architecture. Visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art are mandatory. No knowledge of Chinese is expected.
ARS BREVIS: THE VULNERABILITY OF ART AND THE INSTABILITY OF MEANING
Philippe de Montebello
Tuesday 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
The lectures will focus on works of art and how their varying contexts and many changes over time and across space, affect not only their physical aspect but their meaning as well. A premise of these lectures is that no work of art appears to us as it was originally conceived and executed; that it is inevitably subjected to natural degradation and deliberate alteration, and as a result, that our response is itself variable and contingent. The lectures will be constructed around a number of case studies.
MODERNISM IN FOUR LATIN AMERICAN CENTERS (MEXICO CITY, HAVANA, RIO/SAN PAULO, BUENOS AIRES/MONTEVIDEO) 1920-1950
Tuesday 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
This survey examines major figures in painting and the graphic arts in these four major Latin American centers (eg. Mexican muralists, émigré Surrealists in Mexico, the first two generations of the Cuban Vanguardia, the impact of Pettoruti, Xul Solar and Torres-García in the Río de la Plata; the São Paulo Week of Modern Art of 1922 to geometric constructivism in the 1950s in Brazil). Attention will be paid to the artists’ interaction with their European and North American contemporaries in such places as Paris and New York. Reading knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese is very helpful.
MEDIEVAL ART: THEMES AND INTERPRETATIONS
Wednesday 12:30 PM– 2:30PM
This course provides an overview of Medieval art and its major issues, moving chronologically from the Late Antique/Migration period to the Late Gothic. Students will become familiar with key monuments and also the kinds of interpretations scholars have developed to give works meaning. Discussions focus especially on several wide-reaching themes: the aesthetic status of art and the theological role of images; the revival of classical models and visual modes; social rituals such as pilgrimage and crusading; the cult across the political and urban landscapes.
CONTEMPORARY ART AND THE PLIGHT OF PUBLICNESS
Wednesday 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Although modern art has long been defined by its dealers for social engagement and political agency, the question of art’s relationship to life – both in terms of individual experience and social organization and interaction – has become a crucial factor motivating a significant strand of artistic practice since the 1960s. This course will consider the current focus on public art projects, artistic interventions into commercial and mass-cultural systems, and “relational” practices (to cite some of the most prominent instances of publicness in contemporary art) and explore the ways in which such projects engage with and define the shifting contours of the public sphere within an information-based and global society.
REPRODUCTION AND REPLICATION IN THE ART OF PREMODERN CHINA
Thursday 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
How were art objects reproduced in pre-modern China? What reproduce them, especially in conspicuously large numbers? Drawing upon various examples surviving from the period, this seminar reconsiders the relevance of such concepts as originality, uniqueness, and authenticity within the Chinese context. We will find that painting theorists regarded copying masterpieces an essential part of training, and also an efficient means for envisioning or expressing Buddhist ideologies. Visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art are expected. No knowledge of Chinese necessary.
ALEPPO RECONSIDERED, ALEPPO “RECONSTRUCTED”
Thursday 3:00 PM – 5:00PM
Among the historic cities of the Near East, Aleppo is among the best studied by scholars of urbanism and architectural history. Until the outbreak of hostilities that continue to erode its physical state, Aleppo attracted the attention of generations of scholars for its well-preserved historic core erected in the locally quarries limestone. Its urban fabric was analyzed and many structures were mapped and some of them were published in considerable detail. Although the degradation of its built environment continues, the published record of the city’s past can still be used to examine the process whereby the city changed over time in response to political, military and economic pressures. Such an examination also highlights the broader artistic, architectural and historical forces that affected the region during the tenth to twenties centuries.
Friday 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
This course is dedicated to tracing the critical fortunes of El Greco. It will examine the current lines of interpretation of this spectacular painter and ask the question: do we now have a definitive interpretation of El Greco’s artistic project? Reading knowledge of Spanish would be very helpful, but is not essential. Students must have the permission of the instructor before registering for this course.
MAKING MUSIC IN NORTHERN RENAISSANCE ART
Friday 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
In terms of its pan-European significance, music was as-if not more-important than the visual in the arts of the North. The presence of musical reference abounds in French, German, Netherlandish graphic arts, painting and other areas. Netherlandish religious currents account for the presence of so many musical references in the region’s art. Special attention will be given to the art of Albrecht Dürer. Harmony’s linkage to popular Neo-Platonic thought accounts for part of the abundance of images in France. We will utilize New York’s Rare Book and Print Collections, along with other resources to study this novel, significant field.
Connoisseurs Executive Committee
Stephen R. Beckwith, Chairman
William L. Bernhard
Patricia Rubin, Ex-Officio