ARTH 48 — Renaissance to Revolution: Discovering History Through Art
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Jul 7—Aug 11
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jul 9
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Instructor(s): Bruce Elliott
Class Recording Available: Yes
Great artists have always been sensitive observers; their paintings often serve as eloquent commentaries on their times. Through consideration of pivotal cultural movements in Western history, this course will explore three primary modes of relationship between history and art: specifically, periods in which leading artists can be seen celebrating their times, opposing contemporary developments, and attempting to influence the course of history. For art celebrating historical developments, we will look at Italian Renaissance painters like Masaccio and Botticelli, who gave visible form to the new Humanistic outlook, and the Rococo painting of the Enlightenment era that glorified aspects of what has been called the Age of Aristocracy. Artistic movements characterized by resistance to historical change will be illustrated through Counter-Reformation Baroque art by Caravaggio, Artemisia Gentileschi, Rubens, and others, and through the implicit protest of Romantic artists against inhumane mechanization in the Industrial Revolution. Finally, we will highlight instances when artists themselves sought to influence the course of history, such as with Protestant woodcuts of the Reformation period inciting indignation against the Catholic establishment, and grand-scale historical paintings like David’s The Tennis Court Oath (French Revolution) and Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (France’s July Revolution of 1830), both created to foster a sense of citizen identity and nationalistic pride.
Bruce Elliott teaches courses in cultural history for lifelong-learning programs at UC Berkeley, Sonoma State, and Dominican University. His courses highlight the dynamic interaction between historical developments and artistic expression. Elliott received a PhD in European history from UC Berkeley and has taught for Continuing Studies since 2004.
Textbooks for this course:
(Recommended) Michael Levy, From Giotto to Cezanne: Concise History of Painting (ISBN 0500200246)