4.601
Introduction to Art History

Covering selected works and artists from the fourteenth to the twentieth century, this course introduces the social and cultural practices that defined Euro-American traditions of art, and the methods used by art historians to interpret art objects. Focusing primarily on painting, prints, and sculpture, the course examines changing conceptions of the artist, the work of art, and the discipline of art history. It explores the multiple roles images and objects have played over time, how they functioned in various social and cultural contexts, and whose purposes they served. Particular attention is paid to gender and representation, patronage and the art market, and the global dimensions of European artistic production. How did devotional practices, political institutions, science, and trade shape conceptions of art and the artist? What methods are available to help us interpret the meanings and functions of art works for those who encountered them as worshipers, collectors, critics, and modern viewers, and what can the production and reception of art tell us about its place in the world?

Recitations include trips to local museums.