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ARTH 45 — Revolutions in Art: The Shock of the New

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 5 weeks
Date(s): Jul 17—Aug 14
Time: 7:00—9:05 pm
Drop Deadline: Jul 30
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $340
Instructor(s): Bruce Elliott
Status: Open
7:00—9:05 pm
Jul 17—Aug 14
5 weeks
Drop By
Jul 30
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Bruce Elliott
Historically, revolutions have happened when political forms no longer matched changed social realities. Something analogous has held true in the cultural realm, when a new generation of artists sought to give creative expression to new outlooks more in tune with changing times. Their innovative approaches typically evoked little but ridicule and steadfast opposition from an outraged artistic establishment. But such revolutions succeeded when the Young Turks persevered and eventually managed to win over the majority of influential critics and patrons.

Contrasting artwork of the upstart rebels with that of the prestigious Masters, this course will highlight the five most momentous of these cultural revolutions in Western art. Moving chronologically, we will begin with the Renaissance, when Humanist painters like Masaccio and Botticelli broke through the constraints of medieval artistic conventions. We will see how later, in a time of religious contention, the ardent spirituality of Baroque painters like Caravaggio, Rubens, and Rembrandt struck a sharp contrast to the prevailing stylized Mannerism. Reacting against Enlightenment rationality, we will study Romantic artists such as Turner and Delacroix, who brought forth elements of mystery, darkness, and emotion. Later in the century, Impressionist painters took on the French Academy, mounting a campaign for an art firmly grounded in the experience of ordinary people. Lastly, we will chronicle the revolt of the Surrealists like Magritte, Dalí, and Chagall—the first group of artists who explicitly sought to shock, as they pointed to the incongruous paradoxes of modern life.

Bruce Elliott, Independent Scholar

Bruce Elliott teaches courses in European cultural history for Stanford Continuing Studies and lifelong-learning programs at UC Berkeley, Sonoma State, and Dominican University. Blending lecture and extensive visuals, his courses highlight the dynamic relationship between historic developments and artistic expression. Elliott received a PhD in European history from UC Berkeley.

Textbooks for this course:

(Recommended) Michael Levey, From Giotto to Cezanne: A Concise History of Painting, 2nd Edition (ISBN 9780500200247)