Fine Arts 160

Understanding the Visual Arts

On the Lectures

Schedule of Lectures

Michaelangelo's David gets a cleaning.

Course Description and Requirements
MSU Gallery Schedule
Resources in Art History for Graduate students
The Perseus Project
Art Historians' Guide to the Movies
The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit
The Art Institute of Chicago
The Accademia di Belle Arti, Florence


Our course will be a combination of lectures, discussion, movies, guests and visits to the exhibitions at the art Gallery. Our readings will be selections from from the text, as outlined below. This will be spiced up with more-or-less in-depth explorations of particular subjects, such as propaganda, theories of creativity, the nude, and the idea of visual studies. The instructor reserves the right to change, re-direct and otherwise rework this course shedule, with the aim of refining our exploration of art.

Week One : January 18-21

And Now to Our Text: What is Art? (the beginning of the question)

Week Two : January 24-28

Pablo Picasso: "Nobody can ever learn to paint." And what does that mean?

Reading for this week: Preble, Chapter Two: Awareness, Creativity, and Communication, 15-38.

This chapter deals with a number of ideas, presented here perhaps rather more quickly than might have been desired, and ideas we will be coming back to throughout the semester, such as:

  1. Children's Art--see the text for examples.
  2. Untrained (Naive) and Folk Artists : add to this grouping William Blake (or does he really belong here?) and Henri Rousseau.
    Don't forget Grandma Moses, the most famous of American naive painters.
  3. Persons who go to Art School. Check out : The Art Institute of Chicago and The Fashion Institute of Technology.
    What's happening at the University of California, Los Angeles: the performance artist Chris Burden has resigned his teaching position over what he felt was the inadequate response of the university to the actions of a student artist who brought a loaded gun into the classroom. Here's the story.

Outside of Class

Week Three : January 31-February 4

Beth Blake of East Carolina University, is visiting our Monday 3 p.m. class as part of her participation in the current MSU exhibition, Town and Country: The Landscape in Contemporary Art. When writing up your essay on this experience you may find it helpful to read over Chapter Six, Evaluation and Criticism, 104-110.

Art for Spiritual Sustenance: Western Art

Much of the world's art was produced in response to religious inspiration and requirements. This week i s devoted to looking at different such response from throughout art history and from around the world. Topics are listed with page numbers in our text; one or two examples will be discuss in class and supplemented here with links to related Web sites.
Reading: Preble, from Chapter One: Art for Spiritual Sustenance and Chapter 15: Prehistoric to Early Civilizations, 254-274.

Ancient Art
Medieval Art

Art for Spiritual Sustenance: Asian, African, and Pre-Columbian Art

Week Four : February 7-11

Week Five : February 14-18

Week Six February 21-25 :

Week Seven : February 28-March 4

Renaissance and Baroque Art

Midterm Revelations

Week Eight : March 7-11

Week Nine : March 14-18

Week Ten : March 21-25

Week Eleven : March 28-April 1

Modern Art

Week Twelve : April 4-8