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This course is a survey of European painting (and related forms) from the time of the first "mature" Impressionist pictures and exhibitions (about 1874) to the Salon d’Automne of 1907, the year in which Cézanne’s posthumous retrospective produced a major deflection in the interests of the French avant-garde. The course is organized around three general premises. First, that Impressionism, despite its commitment to the direct study of nature, unseated the traditional concept of a "naturalist" picture and, in particular, of the implied transparency of the picture plane first developed during the Renaissance. Second, that this dislocation fostered all across Europe experiments with the notation and materiality of marks made upon the picture plane, and led to the development of a new paradigm for the practice of painting. Finally, that we can draw an historical "map" of these experiments which does not reduce to a history of styles or individuals, but rather allows us to see how making pictures intersects with contemporary developments in science, industry, and other forms of cultural expression.


There will be a mid-term and a final examination, each consisting of some slide identifications, short essays based upon slide comparisons, and at least one longer essay question that is prepared in advance of the exam. A paper of about 8 typed pages (double-spaced, fonts no larger than 12 points) will be required of each class member. Ideally, this paper will focus on one or two original works of art from the period studied in this course and visible in the Bay Area, notably works on view at the Legion of Honor and the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. It is hoped that papers will address some critical issue that seems historically important, worthwhile to write about, or just plain interesting. Every paper will be unique, and you are encouraged to bring to the topic your reading and research in other areas (for example, history, literature, or philosophy). Please Note: it is strongly suggested that you speak to the instructor while formulating a paper topic to ensure that it remains germaine to the course and sufficiently focused upon actual works of art.

Paper Due Date : 20 November 2008

Discussion Sections

Regular section meetings are not scheduled for this course. However, the course is designed to meet for one hour and fifty minutes twice a week. Approximately thirty minutes of each course meeting will be given over to in-class discussion of lectures, readings, and specific works of art. Students are encouraged to prepare for these discussions by organizing their queries about the material ahead of time. Graduate students following the course for credit will meet with the instructor one extra hour per week (day and time to be arranged).

Multi-media materials

Each member of the course registered for credit will receive a CD-ROM that includes the Course Reader and a complete set of images for every lecture. You will be expected to safeguard this CD, and to return it in good shape to the instructor on the day of the final examination. To protect the instructor from legal action about copyright laws, please do not allow anyone not actually enrolled in the course to borrow or to copy your CD-ROM. Auditors not enrolled in the course are able to obtain lists of slides shown in each lecture by consulting the website accessible to everyone at the following internet address : arthist126.stanford.edu.

Course Readings

Required Readings for the course consist of five books (see below) and a Course Reader that is included on the CD-ROM. Familiarity with the Required Readings is mandatory since essay questions for the examinations will engage issues raised by the texts. The readings have been selected to complement the lectures: that is, they are inter-related but essentially independent, so the pace of reading is basically determined by the whims, interests, and hunger for knowledge of individual class members. Topics in the readings are keyed to lecture topics in the Lecture Schedule, and you are strongly encouraged to maintain a steady reading schedule for yourself. To access the Course Reader, click the link called "Reader" on the CD-ROM home page.

Required Readings (Available at the Stanford Bookstore):

Denvir, Bernard. Post-Impressionism. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1992

Duncan, Alistair. Art Nouveau. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1994

Kern, Stephen. The Culture of Time and Space, 1880-1918. New ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 2003

Kuhn, Thomas. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1996

Lucie-Smith, Edward. Symbolist Art. Rpt. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1985

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