Week 1: The Renaissance and the birth of the baroque
The Italian Renaissance marks the rebirth of the humanist classical tradition, and the partial rejection of the religious medieval tradition. The artists of the Renaissance attempted to revive the classical past as the model for present life and art. We shall study the art of this audacious attempt, which began in Italy and then moved north.
Week 2: The baroque, rococo and classic
Artists trained in the baroque, as they abandoned religious depth, created the decorative style of the rococo, which was quickly associated with the decadent aristocracy. In reaction, revolutionary artists and thinkers once again championed the revival of classicism also known as the neoclassic style.
Week 3: Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic movement that did not so much create a new style as recreate—and often mix—the styles of the past in the service of a greater emotionalism. Romantics celebrated emotion, and associated it with the natural world, which they viewed as being despoiled by the Industrial Revolution.
Week 4: After Romanticism: realism, nationalism, impressionism and post-impressionism
The High Romantic movement of the first half of the 19th century broke up, as the century went on, into a number of movements that are easier to define. All of these movements departed in style from High Romanticism, but all were continuations of it, in that the search for emotional expression remained paramount.
Week 5: The modern age
The modernist revolution in art came about when artists rejected the traditions of the past, including romanticism, and attempted to re-found the arts in revolutionary ways of seeing. The results, in painting, were the revolutionary styles of cubism, abstract expressionism and surrealism. Analogous styles in sculpture and architecture also developed.
Week 6: The arts today: Modernism and postmodernism
Modernism in art was challenged by postmodernism. Some artists and thinkers, especially those described by the term “deconstructionist,” rejected the modernist styles because they thought these styles were not revolutionary enough. Others rejected the modernist styles because they thought that modernism had been too revolutionary in its rejection of the past.