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The Mountains in the History of Art
ARHA 296
Spring 2018
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: ENVS 296

This course is a comparative study of mountains as artistic inspiration, focusing on the Alps and the Black Forest in Europe, and the Appalachians. In medieval Europe, passes through the Alps and the Black Forest were conduits for the transit of men, goods, and cultural forms. Mountains were not barriers but passageways that linked cultures. In 16th- and 17th-century Europe, Netherlandish artists--Breughel, Seghers, Ruisdael, Jos de Mompers--first gave full expression to the grandeur, far beyond a human scale, of Alpine scenery. Gradually, mountains came to be viewed as places of aesthetic beauty and as manifestation of the sublime. Romanticism, in the visual arts, poetry, and music, captures the experience of the Alps as both symbol and physical manifestation of the transcendent. In the paintings of C.D. Friedrich, Constable, and Turner, mountains become the means to express the concept of the Sublime. A deeper understanding of the Sublime may be found in the poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge. In America, too, mid-19th century painters focused on the mountains, We will study Hudson River School artists represented in CT collections (Church, Cole). The mid-19th century saw the birth of mountaineering as a sport. We will read selections from narratives of climbing expeditions--Leslie Stephen, Mark Twain. After World War One, mountaineering took on a heightened spiritual dimension for men who had survived the horrors of trench warfare. In Austria and Germany, climbing was also identified with nationalism and presumed masculinity. We will look critically at the idea of climbing as masculine ideal. What about women mountaineers--of whom there were many? And what about women artists? We will study the art of the newly rediscovered American landscape painter Martha Wood Belcher. Sadly, climbing was also associated with National Socialism and antisemitism. In fact, however, the development of climbing and skiing in the Alps owes much to Austrian and German Jews. In art, too, during the first decades of the 20th century, mountains were an important source of spiritual inspiration for painters whose work is central to the evolution of modern art.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA ART
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None
Past Enrollment Probability: 90% or above

Last Updated on JUL-20-2024
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