ARTH111: Introduction to Western Art History - Proto-Renaissance to Contemporary Art

Course Syllabus for "ARTH111: Introduction to Western Art History: Proto-Renaissance to Contemporary Art"

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In this course, we will study important movements and some influential artists in Western art history. We will begin with the “Proto-Renaissance” in Italy in the 13th century and continue through to the late 20th century. You will become acquainted with certain regional and personal styles of art through this period, as well as a number of renowned works of art and architecture. Art forms and imagery are influenced by the surrounding world, the biography of the artist who produced the artwork, and other circumstances of artistic production. This course provides a framework for considering how and why certain artistic movements emerged in certain places at certain times. Some of the names and works we will look at might already be familiar to you, while others will be new. The ultimate goal of this course is not to provide data on individual works of art, although that is part of art history, but to act as a sort of springboard. You will gain tools for looking at and analyzing not only art by the visual world around you. Please note we will make a number of sweeping generalizations regarding styles to provide a broad foundational arc. Divisions between styles, periods, and cultures are always fluid and selected examples could be substituted with many others. The course design mirrors the scope and content of similar courses available through traditional undergraduate programs. We will move more or less chronologically, with some thematic sections. In some cases, in-depth resources on specific works and artists are assigned to suggest a broader range; in others, we will run through a number of examples briefly. To begin, review a map of modern Europe that you can compare with some historical maps we will look at. As we proceed, look up terms and supplemental images. The following links* are suggested:

General (extensive):

Art Dictionaries:

Quality Art Reproductions:

*Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on these websites.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Identify the major styles of works of art in the West from the Italian proto-Renaissance through contemporary art.
  • Explain how political, social, and religious ideas inform art styles and images.
  • Explain prevalent artistic and architectural techniques developed through the period covered.
  • Discuss formal aspects of works of art in terminology basic to the field.
  • Recognize important artworks and describe them in terms of their form, content, and general history of their creation.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

  • have access to a computer;
  • have continuous broadband internet access;
  • have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader of Flash);
  • have the ability to download documents;
  • have the ability to open and save Microsoft word documents (worksheets);
  • be competent in the English language; and
  • have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

It is strongly recommended that you complete ARTH110 (Introduction to Western Art History: Pre-historic to High Gothic) prior to taking this course.

Course Information

Welcome to ARTH111. Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements.

Course Designer: Jody Cutler

Primary Resources: This course uses materials from a wide range of sources, including the following:

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course successfully you must take the final exam and earn a grade of 70% or higher. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course will take a total of 25.25 hours to complete. Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit and then set goals for yourself. For example, Unit 1 should take you 1.5 hours. Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete the first half of Unit 1 (a total of approximately 45 minutes) on Monday night, the second half of Unit 1 on Tuesday night, etc.

Tips/Suggestions: As with any art history course, it is important that you take time to carefully examine any and all images presented in this course. Pay careful attention to images presented in video lectures and pause the videos or go back as necessary to review. Most images also can be easily located in a Google search.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.