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ARTH 52 — The Artistic Eye: Vision and the History of Art

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: On-campus (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Apr 30—Jun 4
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: May 2
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $405
Instructor(s): Michael Marmor
Limit: 40
Class Recording Available: No
Status: Open
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Apr 30—Jun 4
6 weeks
Refund Date
May 2
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Michael Marmor
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
This course examines great art from all ages from a vantage point of how artists work and how we see art. An eye is “artistic” not only for its ability to discern good taste, but for it its ability to use the vagaries of human vision to advantage. The human eye is not a camera, and the retina is actually a part of the brain that processes images in ways that affect how artists interpret contrast, depth, shading, and color. Art is unquestionably a cultural enterprise, but understanding the eye will enhance the appreciation of art. Conversely, great art illuminates the complexity of vision.

This course will explore art from ancient Pompeii through the Renaissance and modern times. We will consider questions such as: What was Leonardo’s greatest contribution to art? (Hint: it was not the Mona Lisa.) Did El Greco need a good pair of glasses? Why do portraits eerily follow you about the room? Did van Gogh’s magnificent yellows come from drugs? How did Monet and Degas cope with visual loss? And how could Beethoven compose while deaf while Monet had trouble painting with cataracts? We will illustrate many other artists, such as Rembrandt, Titian, Munch, Cézanne, Escher, O’Keeffe, Picasso, and Warhol.

Professor of Ophthalmology and Human Biology, Emeritus, Stanford

Michael Marmor received an AB and MD from Harvard. He has been at Stanford for 45 years, where he taught physicians about retinal physiology and disease, and undergraduates about art and the eye in the Program in Human Biology. He has written four books on art and many medical papers, and he has curated art exhibits at Stanford and in Paris. His latest book is The Artistic Eye.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) MF Marmor and JG Ravin, The Artistic Eye (ISBN 978-9062992843)