Undergraduate Seminar: Art and the Modern Interior
2020 has cast a spotlight on the domestic interior. As we regularly Zoom into one another’s homes, the boundary between public and private space seems more fragile than ever. New relationships between art and domesticity have developed as the pandemic has confined many of us to our homes and forced museum closures, obliging us to find ways to engage with art at home. As we navigate a world in which domestic space is constantly reinvented to respond to changing demands and possibilities, we have an opportunity to rethink the history of the domestic interior from a new perspective. This seminar explores the theme of the interior with a focus on European art from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century. The domestic interior was central to the development of modern western art. It was a favorite subject for painters, a space of artistic display for new middle-class patrons, and often the site of artistic creation. The class looks at diverse case studies including Impressionist paintings by Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt, James McNeill Whistler’s controversial Peacock Room, Frederic Leighton’s Orientalist Arab Hall, William Morris’s Arts and Crafts homes, Henry van de Velde’s Art Nouveau ornament, abstract textiles by Phyllis Barron and Dorothy Larcher, and the modernist architecture of Le Corbusier and Eileen Gray. We consider the ways in which interiors and their representations have contributed to the construction of identity, drawing on postcolonial, feminist, and queer theoretical accounts of the politics of domestic space. We also discuss art in relation to scholarship on the concept of public and private spheres.
This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical area (A) and Chronological period (III).