Skull with Mosaic Inlay, Mexico (Oaxaca or Puebla, Mixtec or Zapotec), 1400–1521, gift of Constance McCormick Fearing. LACMA
This class offers a broad introduction to the art, architecture, and visual culture produced in America between the colonial and modern eras, and focuses especially on America outside of the U.S. in what we often call “Latin America.” It begins in the viceregal era (c. 1521–1821), focusing on the introduction and adaptation of European artistic models into the Americas as well as the transformation of American art as a result of the conquests, analyzing a variety of materials and media including urban planning, religious and secular architecture, paintings, sculpture, manuscript drawings, and prints from the colonial period (1492–circa 1821). We will then study materials from the nineteenth century, examining the role of the arts in building independent nations, and from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, focusing on modern and contemporary trends. In particular we will consider artists reactions to modernist tendencies (e.g., Cubism, Surrealism, Constructivism, Geometric art) and expressions of national identity. Themes of the course include stereotypes of “Indians,” nationalism, Academic art, modernismo, revolutionary art, indigenismo, art and social protest, and abstraction. Throughout the semester we pay particular attention to questions of American identity, indigenous identity, “nonn-western” art, and the relationships between art, religion, politics, national identity, and museum exhibition practices.