- Explore how movement, migration, and transcultural exchange influenced artists and artworks, from the 1500s to the present;
- Examine commonalities and differences in artworks from different cultural traditions;
- Reconsider the canon of art history in the light of global perspectives;
- Evaluate critical terms and categories and imagine new possibilities for art history;
- Learn to speak, think, and write intelligently about global issues in art history and your own engagement in the field.
In the last few decades, the non-Western world has become increasingly visible in art criticism and collecting. Artists, artworks, exhibitions, and viewers travel more than ever before, which inspires a reconsideration of the canon of masterpieces and its related terms and categories. Such global connectedness, however, has a long prehistory, going back to the Renaissance. This course explores interaction and exchange in art from different regions in a historical perspective, taking into consideration commonalities as well as the aesthetics of difference.|
The course starts with the sixteenth century when new maritime routes set in motion an era of ‘first globalization’. Artworks moved across cultural zones, resulting in innovative materials, styles, and themes. These objects became agents of cultural interaction, shaping encounters and related cultures of knowledge and consumption.
Moving on to the late modern era, the course critically evaluates the rise of the discipline of art history as rooted in European texts and institutions, which coincided with modern colonialism and cultural imperialism since the French Revolution. Focusing exemplarily on the artistic trend of Orientalism and its modern afterlives, we will consider how this resulted in national ‘schools’ of art history, as well as in transnational competition and interaction.
Such a global approach in art history raises many new questions. Is it possible for a single discipline to study objects from the entire world without falling into a Eurocentric fallacy? How can a discipline that has often been either profoundly historical or profoundly formalist in its approach, cope with a fuller geographical remit? How can art history contribute productively to the search for terms and categories that bridge different cultures?
The course explores key texts and artworks in relation to the rich collections and galleries of the Netherlands and beyond that testify to a history of intensive global exhange.