The Connoisseurs Circle Courses

Lecture Courses
Connoisseurs Circle members may audit all lecture courses at the IFA. Registration is not

Registration and pre-approval is required to audit a colloquium. To register, please contact Andrea at or 212-992-5812. Members are permitted to audit one to two colloquia per semester, based on availability.

Spring 2014(For the Fall 2013 courses, click here)

January 27 through May 12

Picturing alterity in Japan
Anton Schweizer
Monday, 10:00am – 12:00pm

This course will focus on the visual and spatial construction of normativity and alterity in pre-modern Japan. Rather than presenting a continuous narrative we will approach these issues in a series of case studies ranging in date from the eighth to the nineteenth centuries. A variety of contemporary methodological concepts will be tested. Starting with a general introduction to Japan and its arts, the subsequent class meetings will address thematic clusters such as spiritual realms of existence; social identity and stratification; escapism and exoticism; catering to foreign conceptions of Japaneseness; early Nationalist discourses; sexual normativity and deviance.

Artworks in Progress: The Changing Materiality Of Things (18th-21st Century)
Noémie Etienne
Monday 10:00am – 12:00pm

This seminar aims to study the material life of artworks, including topics which relate to restoration and conservation histories as well as methodological questions. Studying various moments and cases, we will discuss how “object oriented” and material approaches allow us to re-interrogate topics such as authorship, expertise or authenticity. The seminar will propose examples from 18th century – when conservation was first institutionalized in France - until the 21th century, and specifically from the United States. We will also consider the cross-cultural lives of museum objects, as well as corresponding social and political issues.

Arbus, Friedlander, Winogrand

Robert Slifkin
Monday 3:00pm – 5:00pm

First grouped together in the Museum of Modern Art’s 1967 exhibition “New Documents,” the work of Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, and Gary Winogrand has been generally understood in terms of the tradition of street photography and documentary practice, taking these genres into a highly personal and often ironic register at a moment when they were beginning to be challenged by a new generation of artists who were using the photographic medium in more experimental, conceptual, and oftentimes amateurish ways. This seminar will examine in depth the extensive body of work produced by these three artists, surveying its critical reception as well as its engagement with the history of photography. We will also consider how their work was in dialogue with the photography, visual arts (minimalism, conceptualism, and performance art), and broader cultural production of the period such as cinema and literature.

Approaches to Greek and Roman Art and Architecture
Clemente Marconi
Tuesday 10:00am – 12:00pm

This colloquium will systematically examine the study of Greek and Roman Art and Architecture at a critical time in its development. In recent years, this field has been characterized by an ever-increasing range of approaches, under the influence of various disciplines such as Sociology, Semiotics, Gender Theory, Anthropology, Reception Theory, and Hermeneutics. The scope of this seminar is to explore key aspects of Greek and Roman Art and Architecture, and to assess the current state of the discipline by reviewing and subjecting to critical scrutiny its current larger theoretical implications, methodologies, and directions of research.

The Art Museum: An Imperfect Construct?
Philippe de Montebello
Tuesday 10:00am – 12:00pm

The course will consider whether the model of the encyclopedic museum as a Western construct born out of the Enlightenment is still valid in our post-colonial, multicultural and global age. This colloquium will start with a historical review of some of the principles that have shaped the museum in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and will further examine their correlation with the emergence of art history and archaeology as new fields of academic inquiry. With the legitimacy of the Enlightenment model now in question and museums becoming more inclusive of world cultures, both in the fields of traditional as well as contemporary art, current organizing principles will be reviewed as to their validity.

Women in Ancient Egyptian Art: An Understudied Category
David O’Connor
Wednesday 12:30pm – 2:30pm

This course will explore the varied representations of Egyptian and other women in ancient Egyptian art with reference both to the surprising variety of such representations, and to the insights they provide on the status and evaluation of these women and on the complex relationships between Egyptian men and women in emotional, economic, social and even cosmological terms. Such a survey involves an impressive and varied range of social status - queens and other royal women; elite, middle class and lower order women; and foreign women as well. Moreover, there are analogies between women and goddesses that will be also explored.

SoHo in the 1970s: Alternative Spaces and the Formation of an Artistic Community
Thomas Crow
Wednesday 3:00pm – 5:00pm

New York provides something of a laboratory for analyzing patterns of residency and community formation among artists. The course will begin by looking at these patterns, clustered in lower Manhattan, extending back into the nineteenth century.  Using as a test case artists' migration to and intensive colonisation of the SoHo district, which began in the late 1950s and reached a culmination in the 1970s, the object of inquiry will be the dynamic that brings such clusterings into being and latterly disperses them. How, it will be asked, do demographic, sociological, and geographical shifts intertwine with the processes of artistic change? Students must have permission from the instructor before registering for this course.

Issues In Conservation: Historical & Ethical Considerations In The Devlepment Of A Discipline
Michele Marincola
Wednesday 3:00pm – 5:00pm

This course will examine the development of art conservation in both theory and practice from its earliest manifestations to the current decade. An historical overview of the field will serve as background for a more detailed exploration of core issues in preservation and restoration. Topics to be discussed include the role of artist-restorers; the rise of a discipline; the impact of science and scientific inquiry; cleaning controversies and the lure of positivist thinking; making mistakes; historic preservation, the development of ethical standards and the persistence of ambiguity; decision-making in conservation; conservation and the law; and the challenge of modern and contemporary art.

Titian to Tintoretto: Topics in Venetian Painting
William Hood
Thursday 12:30pm – 2:30pm

This course will address selected topics in the history of sixteenth-century Venetian painting.  among others, lectures will discuss the emergence of Giorgione and Titian from the circle of Giovanni Bellini; technical experiments with media and supports; exchanges with Northern painters; theoretical arguments comparing Venetian and Central Italian art; the paragone of colorito and disegno; the development of the pastoral landscape; and large-scale mural decoration for Venetian scuole. 

Art Collecting in the USA
Jonathan Brown
Thursday 12:30pm – 2:30pm

The focus of this colloquium is on the evolution of collecting practices from the threshold of the Gilded Age to the start of the Second World War.

Wealth: Greek Art from the Beginning
Günter Kopcke
Friday 10:00am – 12:00pm

While art of course as such is important, and at times artists are, it and they are – significantly – the product of circumstance. This course, an overview, will put circumstance, i.e. history, first, and then proceed to art. In this way art is anchored where it should be, in socio-political and philosophical context. To argue context, archaeology and other sources will serve. Aesthetic value and sometimes excellence are timely comments. The trajectory of Greek art over roughly one thousand years, from barely civilized to philosophically introspective, charts what perhaps is the most enduring of global choices. The key question: if true, why?


Connoisseurs Executive Committee

Stephen R. Beckwith, Chairman
William L. Bernhard
Roberta Huber
Judy Steinhardt
Alicia Volk

Ex Officio
Patricia Rubin

France Study Tour
The IFA Legacy Society
Corporate Patron Program