4.641 / 4.644
19th-Century Art: Painting in the Age of Steam

Enrollment: 
UG: 4.641; G: 4.644 - Limited to 15

How did nineteenth-century artists and designers – from the British Empire to America’s moving frontier to Meiji Japan – respond to industrialization and its social and environmental consequences? How did such new technologies as the telegraph, the railroad, the photograph, gas lighting, and electrification “galvanize” artistic work? How did such new materials as chemical dyes and synthetic paints impact the making and theorization of art? And what can ecocritical approaches to nineteenth-century art and design reveal to us about past ecological sensibilities or ambivalences, and art’s aestheticization of the carbon economy? Topics include art and urban experience, impressionism’s “chemical aesthetic,” empire and its image, and the visual culture of “railway mania.” Course lectures and readings strike a balance between historical and contemporary critical perspectives to assess art's engagement with the social, political, and environmental experience of industrial modernity.

As some meetings will be held offsite at museums, class enrollment is limited to 15. Additional work is required of students taking the graduate version.