Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: Twentieth-Century Sculpture
Around the late 1950s, American painter Ad Reinhadt defined sculpture as “something you bump into when you back up to look at a painting.” Summing up a centuries-old prejudice against sculpture, Reinhardt’s quip also emphasized the medium’s defining feature: its existence as an object in a world chock-full of other objects. Offering a survey of theories of European and American sculpture since the end of the 19th century, this course will investigate how sculpture has consistently negotiated and re-negotiated its position in the world. We will consider theoretical approaches to sculpture — among them writings by Hildebrand, Baudelaire, Greenberg, Fried, and others — and the medium’s often tense, yet productive relationship to other arts, always grounding our discussions in visual and material analysis of artworks.
Over the course of the semester, students will complete short writing exercises and two longer essays, strengthening their ability to analyze artworks, compose an effective thesis statement, write/edit their work, and conduct research.