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ARTH 46 — Masterworks: Uncovering Hidden Meaning Within Great Paintings

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Virtual
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Jul 1—Aug 5
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Drop Deadline: Jul 14
Unit: 1
Tuition: $360
Instructor(s): Bruce Elliott
Status: Open
Please Note: This is a virtual course. Click here for more information about our course formats, including FAQs. These class sessions will be recorded for later viewing.
Summer
Virtual
Wednesdays
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Date(s)
Jul 1—Aug 5
6 weeks
Drop By
Jul 14
1 Unit
Fees
$360
Instructor(s):
Bruce Elliott
Open
Please Note: This is a virtual course. Click here for more information about our course formats, including FAQs. These class sessions will be recorded for later viewing.
Art has never been created for "The Ages." Paintings we now think of as timeless masterpieces were created for viewers from the artist's own time and circumstances. Consequently, much of the embedded meaning is often lost on today’s audiences. This course will help lift the veil by providing cultural context and historical perspective for classic paintings, putting modern viewers more in the mindset of each artist's contemporary audience. The course will be structured around elemental themes that have inspired some of the Western world's most magnificent, yet most enigmatic, works of art. Session by session, the six themes we will examine are: Art of Creation, divine and artistic; Art of Transformation, religious and spiritual; and Art of Mythology, by Renaissance artists and by Classicist masters. Each class session will focus on six masterpieces devoted to one of these themes. Featured paintings will range through the centuries, beginning in the Renaissance with works by Botticelli (Primavera) and Michelangelo (Creation of Adam), continuing through later periods with the likes of Rembrandt (The Return of the Prodigal Son) and Caravaggio (The Conversion of Saint Paul), then culminating with groundbreaking art pieces by modernists such as Monet and Rothko. We will conduct in-depth examinations into the kind of subtle references and symbolism that great masters have employed to convey deep meaning to viewers from their respective historical periods.

Bruce Elliott, Independent Scholar

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

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)