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

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Oct 14—Nov 18
Time: 7:00—9:05 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Oct 16
Unit: 1
Tuition: $390
Instructor(s): Bruce Elliott
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—9:05 pm (PT)
Oct 14—Nov 18
6 weeks
Refund Date
Oct 16
1 Unit
Bruce Elliott
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
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 outlooks more in tune with the 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 six 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. In the Enlightenment movement, Rococo masters like Watteau and Boucher brought a sophisticated touch lightening the grand scale of French Classicism. Reacting against the rationality of Enlightenment philosophy, 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 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.

Independent Scholar

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 Levey, From Giotto to Cezanne: A Concise History of Art, 2nd Paperback Edition (ISBN 0500200246)