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ARTV331 Special Topic: Painting, Public Life and Individualism (1780-1915)

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A survey of European and North American painting movements in the long 19th century, focusing on the medium's transition from a public to a private art form.

Between 1780 and 1915 the medium of painting was revolutionised. Prior to this period, it had existed to serve the needs of the Church and aristocracy, who tasked painters with upholding their authority. Artists had done this using a shared visual language with which they could address a common audience. Stylistically they practised Renaissance-style naturalism, modelled on Greek and Roman prototypes. Thematically, they focused on religious and mythical subjects, which were of similarly Ancient origin.

In the late 18th century, however, this common language began to break down. During the long 19th century that followed, new styles were developed, including Realism, Romanticism and Impressionism, that edged the medium away from shared cultural concerns into private territory. By the early 1900s, avant-garde movements like Fauvism, Cubism and full-blown abstract art were emerging that left naturalism and common cultural interests behind.

This paper examines the many factors that helped bring about this transition, among which are the rise of capitalism, the spread of democratic ideals and the diffusion of new imaging technologies.

Paper title Special Topic: Painting, Public Life and Individualism (1780-1915)
Paper code ARTV331
Subject Art History and Visual Culture
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2020
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $904.05
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,954.75

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18 200-level ARTH, ARTV, HIST or VISC points, or 54 points.
Schedule C
Arts and Music
May not be credited together with ARTV 431 with the same content.
Teaching staff

To be advised when paper next offered.

Course materials will be made available electronically.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • Students will develop an understanding of painting's function as both a witness to and an agent of social change during the 19th century, the period in which important aspects of modern life and culture first emerged. Among these are individualism, liberal democratic capitalism, communism and postcolonialism.
  • In learning to analyse paintings closely with respect to both their formal and social meanings, students will hone skills applicable to contemporary life, which is shaped to a large extent by our exposure to images.

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Not offered in 2020

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system