Collect, Classify, Consume

The objects art historians study survive because someone thought they were art. Focusing on practices of collecting and classification in long historical perspective, this course examines the historical emergence of the idea of art and the concept of the artist, the social practices articulated around art objects, and how shifting definitions of what art is (and is not) are related to market forces.

The course will range from the art worlds of today to those of the global seventeenth century, but particular emphasis will be placed on the periods in which the concept of the national art museum evolved and the modern art market, with its emphasis on authorship and authenticity, took shape. Of specific interest are the emergence of art history and aesthetics as specific fields of intellectual inquiry, and the ideological opposition of both to commerce in an era of consumer revolution. Is it fair to claim that in the west, “art” became conceptualized as “Art” in direct response to the marketplace?

Seminar participation, visits to museums, and a research paper are required.

Offered for 9 or 12 units. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor.