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Previous Courses

ARTH489N: Colloquium in Art History: Can Art Museums Be Decolonized? A History of Modern Art Display in America
Instructor: Dr. Alison Boyd, Phillips Collection and the University of Maryland Postdoctoral Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art History 2019/20

Students will study how collectors, curators, patrons, artists and architects collaborated to display modern art from the late 19th century to the present, particularly in the United States. The course focuses on specific exhibitions and museums (for example The Phillips Collection, MoMA, Barnes Foundation, and Maryland Historical Society) to explore historical contexts for and theories of the display of art. Local museums will serve as an extension of our classroom as we analyze current exhibitions at the Renwick Gallery and The Phillips Collection to understand how museums function as spaces of knowledge building, identity formation, and politics. At the end of the course, we will study how artists have engaged with these spaces with site-specific art works and practices of institutional critique. As a final project, students will propose a new installation of a museum’s permanent collection that reimagines what its works of art can do and what they can mean.
ANTH404: Culture, Media, and the Production of Knowledge
Instructor: Dr. Marlaina Martin, Phillips Collection and the University of Maryland Postdoctoral Fellow in Visual Culture 2019/20

The social lives, or “cultures” of media will be examined: namely, how people have adopted, adapted, signified, and interacted through media, both in theory and in practice. In this seminar, students will learn about “media anthropology” as a subfield. They will also discuss various media making practices and media forms in relation to issues of racial, gender and sexual identity; self-definition; religiosity; war and intergroup conflict; advertising; and nationalism among others.

SPRING 2019 
Colloquium in Art History - Dead or Alive? Still-Life Painting, 1870-Today
Instructor: Dr. Ashley Lazevnick, Phillips Collection and the University of Maryland Postdoctoral Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art History 2018/19

In the late-19th and 20th centuries, modern artists brought an old genre back to life—literally. Still-life painting had emerged in sixteenth-century Europe when vernacular objects were first portrayed apart from portraiture and narrative scenes, and it was exactly the genre’s unsuspecting qualities that made it an arena for formal innovation in the work of Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Georgia O’Keeffe, Stuart Davis, Giorgio Morandi, Jasper Johns, or Claes Oldenburg. This course proposes that the obsessive concentration on the object-world, found in these and other diverse examples from the twentieth century, parallels theories of vitalism and anticipates interest in post-humanism. As the Cartesian distinction between subject and object was being rigorously challenged, still life offered a place for philosophical speculation. What would the world look like without us? Does it exist if we are not watching? Is it possible to imagine a universe only of inanimate things? This course will begin asking these questions by pairing still life with historical writings (by Henri Bergson, William James, and Alfred North Whitehead) as well as current debates in new materialism and ecocriticism. More boldly than previous interpretations offered by phenomenology or psychoanalysis, such methods invite us to treat a picture as a realm entirely beyond artistic control. At the same time, students will not enter that world uncritically, as the course will also probe the limitations of object-oriented thinking, especially in cases where removing distinctions between object and subject threatens to elide issues of human inequality—be it economic or racial or gendered—that still life has routinely disclosed. Over the course of the semester, students will make several trips to The Phillips Collection.

Special Topics in Art History - Art and the Environment
Instructor: Dr. Joshua Shannon, Associate Professor, Contemporary Art History & Theory, and Director of Graduate Studies

What is nature? What is civilization? How can the two co-exist? Art has been proposing a series of answers to these questions since long before the crisis of climate change. This course, focusing on Europe and North America since the advent of industrialization, studies art as an important means by which human beings produce and understand such fundamental concepts as nature, wilderness, the human being, civilization, and the world. Looking especially at paintings, photographs, sculptures, films, and songs that represent the landscape, the course will consider the history of these key concepts as they pertain to the sustainability of life on earth. How has art ended up enabling environmental degradation and hastened climate change? How might it model a more sustainable set of relationships between the human and the non-human? Our work will include frequent in-person study of art at the Phillips Collection. The course includes five units: What Does Art Have to Do with the Environment?; Modernity, Modernism, and Nature; Deserts and Desertification; Cities and Suburbs; and Globalization and Climate Change.
SPRING 2018 
Special Topics in Art History - African Modernisms
Instructor: Kate Cowcher, Phillips Collection and the University of Maryland Postdoctoral Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art History 2017/18

This workshop will introduce students to the debates and discussions around the concept of “global modernism” and its iterations in twentieth century Africa. After some introductory sessions discussing the term “modernism,” its familiar Western-centric history, and its relationship to colonialism and anti-colonialism, we will look in-depth at engagements with and productions of modernist art in different national contexts across the African continent, including Senegal, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The workshop will also include a visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art on April 6, and will involve discussions about exhibitions and displays of modern art from Africa in Western institutions.
In collaboration with University of Maryland

Ecocriticism: A Case Study on Modern Landscape Art at The Phillips Collection
Instructor: Joshua Shannon, Associate Professor, Contemporary Art History & Theory, and Director of Graduate Studies

This course offers a graduate-level introduction to ecocriticism in the humanities as well as an opportunity to conduct intensive research on modern landscape art, making special reference to works at The Phillips Collection.
In collaboration with University of Maryland

The Window and the Screen: Space and Surface in Modern Art
Instructor: Max Rosenberg, Phillips Collection and the University of Maryland Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art History

Addresses the uncertain position of pictorial depth and material surface in modern and contemporary art since 1945. It will focus primarily on abstract painting, Pop art, photorealist painting and experimental film, video and computer art from the fifties, sixties, and seventies.
In collaboration with University of Maryland

Contemporary Arts Purchasing Program
Instructor: Cecilia Wichmann, PhD Student, Contemporary Art and Theory

The University of Maryland College Park Stamp Student Union has developed a Contemporary Arts Purchasing Program (CAPP) whose mission is to educate and inspire by exposing the campus community to thought-provoking art created by noted contemporary artists. Now in its tenth year, the program provides a student committee the opportunity to interact with the art world by researching, discussing, and purchasing artwork by emerging and established contemporary artists. CAPP operates on a biannual basis. Students of diverse majors are selected to participate through a competitive application process. Together they embark on a rigorous research and training program, including extensive visits to galleries and artists’ studios in Baltimore, New York, and Washington, DC.
In collaboration with University of Maryland

Art History in the Museum World
Instructor: Aneta Georgievska-Shine, Lecturer, Renaissance and Baroque Art, Theory

Introduces students to various facets of museum work and provide guidance concerning the possible ways in which an academic degree in art history can be used for diverse career paths in the museum environment. In addition to meeting at The Phillips College, students visit other museums in the Washington D.C. area for meetings with different professionals. Rather than traditional lectures, class meetings are envisioned as active discussions on specific topics. Topics to be discussed include, but are not limited to the following: curatorial work, management and preservation of collections, design and installation of permanent and temporary exhibitions, fundraising, and outreach and educational programs that promote a more meaningful relationship between museums and their audiences.
In collaboration with University of Maryland

Art in Modern East Asia  
Instructor: Chinghsin Wu, The Phillips Collection–George Washington University Postdoctoral Fellow 2015–2016

This course introduces several crucial transformations and developments in the art and visual cultures of Modern East Asia, including Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan. The first part of the course will examine the emerging concept of “Art” in East Asia and the related art systems that were established in the wake of successive encounters with Western culture or modern trends. We will focus on several avant-garde art movements that echoed but also distinguished themselves from parallel movements in Europe, including Impressionism, Post-impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, Dadaism, and Surrealism. The second part of the course focuses on several key trends in the visual culture of modern East Asia, including the reevaluation and innovation of traditional painting techniques, the utilization of Western art media to re-visualize historical events and national identities, the emergence of new female images in modern Asia, and development of imperial, colonial, and aboriginal art. 
In collaboration with George Washington University

Seminar in American Art of the 20th Century: The Museum, the Exhibition, and the Invention of Modern and Contemporary Art, 1913-Present
Instructor: Anne Collins Goodyear, Professorial Lecturer in Art and Art History, George Washington University; Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings, National Portrait Gallery 

A significant amount of attention has been paid in recent years to the development and functioning of the museum, often from the standpoint of museum practice and/or museums as institutions. This course will navigate the relationship between the philosophical or theoretical conception of modern and contemporary art and the art museum or gallery space. After grounding ourselves in an overview of the history of the museum and theoretical approaches to it, we will explore the development of strategies for exhibiting modern and contemporary art from 1913 to the present. Using the Armory show of 1913 as point of departure, we will study how modern and contemporary art have been positioned within—and outside—the institution of the museum and the gallery. Case studies will enable the seminar to focus on how exhibition practice has shaped—literally and figuratively—the development of art of the past century. Together we will address the development of Alfred Stieglitz’s 291, The Phillips Collection, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the exhibition of Surrealist art, Duchamp’s Boîte-en-Valise, André Malraux’s Museum without Walls, modes of institutional critique, and recent questions related to the installation and collecting of time-based and digital art.
In collaboration with George Washington University\

FALL 2011
Modernism Minus Property: The Russian Avant-Garde, 1908-1934
Instructor: Kristin Romberg

What happens to art’s forms and institutions in a society without private property? What kind of patron is the proletariat, the public at large, or the state? Does it require wealth and privilege for professional artists to exist at all? If not, how do the forms of their objects change when they are charged with serving the commonweal? In this course, we will look at the variety of ways in which artists strove to answer these questions, both in theory and in practice, in the decades before and after the Russian Revolution. This period saw the avant-garde respond first to the ascendancy of Moscow’s merchant class of art patrons, with their collections of Western modernism, and then to the Bolshevik seizure of power in the name of a classless society. Examining the period’s most important formations in painting and sculpture, mass festivals and monuments, theater, design, architecture, photography, and cinema, we will attempt to understand how artistic categories such as style, medium, artist, artwork, and audience were defined and redefined in terms of private, public, and common spaces and things.
In partnership with the George Washington University

Labor in American Art of the Gilded Age
Instructor: Makeda Best

This undergraduate seminar considers the representation of labor, laborers, the unemployed, labor unrest, and working class communities – with an eye toward understanding what these images tell us about life in Gilded Age America, and how social realities impacted artistic production. The course will also explore related issues of artists as social critics, depictions of the urban landscape, images of poverty and of wealth, race, gender roles, and mass media formats. The course will consider a range of works – from photography and paintings, to illustrations in various publications. Museum-based classes and readings from a variety of primary sources and secondary sources will serve as a foundation for an informed historical perspective on the period. Each week, a discussion of select works and their contexts will build seminar participants’ knowledge of the diverse art production of this period, serve as visual references for the reading, and support further discussion. A final paper will encourage students to utilize and respond to the resources available at the University, the Phillips Collection, and local repositories.
In partnership with the George Washington University

Modernism and the Cinematographic Experience
Instructor: Riccardo Venturi

Modernist painting has been described as easel canvas, window, frieze, mural, portal, membrane, wall of light. In this incomplete archeology of surfaces, the screen has, however, rarely been evoked, even though it offers a twofold meaning, being at the same time an inscribed-on surface (as in the noun “screen”) and a barrier (as in the verb “to screen”). Our objective is precisely to shed new light on the history of American modernism through the idea of the screen. Keeping an open methodological stance that includes art history, critical theory, psychology, cultural, visual and media studies, and a multimedia approach that brings in painting, moving images and architecture, we will raise – among other issues – questions of perception, registration, spectatorship, spectacle and the spectacularization of exhibition conditions.
In collaboration with The George Washington University

FALL 2010
American Modernisms
Instructor: Elizabeth Hutton Turner

“American Modernisms” and will explore the range of artists who exhibited with Alfred Stieglitz between 1905 and 1946. Collector/Museum Director Duncan Phillips worked with Alfred Stieglitz from 1926 to 1946 pursuing many right answers to the question of what it meant to be “American” and “Modern” in the twentieth century. Over the course of twenty years Phillips assembled a unique collection of paintings, drawings and photographs. Some artists such as Arthur G. Dove and John Marin, Phillips collected in depth. However his limited selections of Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Charles Demuth, Charles Sheeler, Alfred Maurer, Max Weber, and Man Ray are equally compelling.
In partnership with the University of Virginia

The Performative Impulse in American Art
Instructor: Virginia B. Spivey

In partnership with the George Washington University