Spring 2014 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Rosen, Mark
Discipline and Number
HUAS 6315 Section 001
M Time 1:00 PM - 3:45 PM
Course Title
Art & Biography

Description of Course:

When discussing an artist’s life, several obvious questions emerge. How is artistic inspiration explained? How do we account for the origins of creativity? Why do the narratives of artist’s lives frequently fall into familiar patterns, despite so many cultural and contextual differences among them? Is psychology and psychoanalysis still fundamental to understanding an artist’s work? Can anyone other than the artist truly understand and explain the artist’s life?

This course will focus on the telling of artists’ lives through reading several early (and more recent) biographies of artists. We will begin The Lives of the Artists by Giorgio Vasari, written in Italy in the second half of the sixteenth century and hugely influential upon subsequent narratives of artists’ lives. We will continue forward to studying the lives of other artists who have attracted biographers (Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Kahlo) or who have written about their own lives or outlined theories of art for others (Cellini, Reynolds). Throughout this course, we will study these texts in tandem with the artists’ works to see how words attempt to capture and describe visual materials. We will also devote some time to the phenomenon of the “biopic” to see how film biography attempts to describe the artistic process.

Required Texts:


Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:


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