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Curatorial Workshop: Art and the Ecological Imagination, 1840-1870
Spring 2021 not offered
Crosslisting: ENVS 263B, RL&L 235B

This course examines the emergence of an "ecological consciousness" in art during the mid-19th century through readings, discussion, and firsthand study of works in the Davison Art Center print collection. Although the term "ecology" was first coined in 1866, 19th-century thinkers had long been concerned with the interrelationship of organisms, including humans' place and impact on nature. This class examines how visual artists before Impressionism contributed to the 19th century's "ecological imagination" through their representations of landscapes. Known as the "Barbizon School," this group of artists left the metropolis of Paris to immerse themselves in the wild and rugged terrain of the Fontainebleau Forest while also embarking on journeys to remote regions of France. These members of the first artists' colony seceded from the French Academy of Fine Arts and pursued strategies of independence that were allied at the time with radical politics. In their works they experimented with new materials and approaches to composition that included but no longer prioritized humans, in order to foreground processes of transformation internal to nature itself. The consciousness that artists forged through painting and printmaking led them to become among the world's first conservationists; they successfully petitioned the French government to protect parts of the Forest of Fontainebleau some 20 years before the creation of the first National Park in the United States.

The first half of the course will be devoted to reading and discussion; the second half will center on the study of works in the Davison Art Collection, which includes a superb collection of original and experimental prints by Barbizon School artists. The final project will be the curation of a temporary exhibition of works from the collection, including a selection and arrangement of works, explanatory texts, and a public gallery talk.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA ART
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ARHA-MN)(ARHA)(ARST)(ENVS-MN)(ENVS)(FRST-MN)

Last Updated on MAY-25-2024
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