ARTH 57 B — How to Look at Art and Why
“How to Look at Art and Why” is a version of the popular lecture course Alexander Nemerov has taught to undergraduates at Yale and Stanford since 2007. Told in 10 lectures or “chapters,” the course will unfold like a book, focusing on such themes as being called by art, being transformed by what we see, and creating a mental chapel of the works that move us. Such study entails a vulnerability, an openness, not least from the professor himself, about what works of art may offer us. The course holds that paintings are less occasions for expertise than occasions for us to pause, to attend, both to them and to ourselves. Different from self-help, the course will delve deeply into the supposedly irrelevant past to affirm ourselves in a drastic emptying of ego. Art history is the course’s path but not its goal. The goal is to live a life closer to moments of emotional truth.
Students can choose to attend this course on campus or online. Sign up for Section A if you think you might attend class on the Stanford campus at least once. There is no commitment—you can still choose to attend via Zoom for any session. Sign up for Section B if you know you will exclusively attend via Zoom.