Georg Baselitz, one of the leading contemporary artists, who spent a formative year in Florence, observed that “when an artist does art history, he doesn’t do it objectively. He asks himself: ‘What can I take from this?’ ‘What interests me?’ ‘What do I need?’.” This class explores what modern and contemporary artists have taken from Italian Renaissance art, how have they addressed this heritage in their works, and how can the latter help us see “old masters” in a new light. These questions guide our course though an investigation of six broad topics; each week, one meeting is a classroom discussion, the other is a direct encounter with Renaissance and Modern or Contemporary art. For each topic, we consider first how a theme or principle was addressed by a few major painters and sculptors –from Giotto to Michelangelo to Artemisia Gentileschi– then how their works led artists, from the 19th century until today –from Cezanne to Kehinde Wiley- to explore, transform, or subvert related subjects. As a final project, students create a virtual exhibition following the same format, but with different themes and/or artists.
Course fee: covers day trip to Rovereto and Florence site visits (spring 2023 fee = $195).
Department: History of Art