The Department of Art provides curricular opportunities for the development of technical skills, aesthetic judgment, and historical understanding. Participation in both studio and art history courses stimulates critical thinking and refines creative potential in the visual arts. The Grinnell College Art Collection of approximately 5,000 original works of art and the changing exhibitions of the Faulconer Gallery and the Print and Drawing Study Room supplement formal course study. Students who major in art may elect a studio or an art history concentration, with opportunities for advanced work in 300- and 400-level courses. Students who receive a 5 on the Advanced Placement exam in Art History will be exempted from Art 103. Students with a score of 4 may, upon consultation with the department, be exempted from Art 103. Students electing an art history concentration must consult with the department about appropriate foreign language study. Majors are expected to enrich their concentration through selected courses offered by other departments. For example, appropriate courses in film, history, literature, philosophy, and religious studies, or syntheses of these materials in humanities courses contribute to the art history concentration. Furthermore, computer science, literature, education, economics, and the sciences, especially chemistry, contribute to the study of studio art. Students are encouraged to consider the advantages of a semester abroad in an approved program. Off-campus programs in this country also are available to majors with adequate preparation for advanced study. Students interested in museum work can take the museum studies course (Art 260) and/or the exhibition seminar (Art 360). There are opportunities for academic internships at the Faulconer Gallery and Axelle Fine Arts (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and others as arranged. Competitive summer internships at national museums and institutions are open to qualifying students with considerable preparation in either discipline. A competitive scholarship in studio art allows for a ninth semester of portfolio preparation for graduate study.
A minimum of 32 credits. Studio Art: Required for the studio art concentration are 24 credits in studio art (beyond Art 111), which must include Art 134 Drawing, three courses of series 200, and two courses of series 300. In addition students must complete two courses in art history: Art 103 and one course at the 200 level. Students in studio art must also complete a public exhibition under the advisement of studio faculty in their senior year. Art History: Required for the art history concentration are 28 credits in art history (beyond Art 103), which must include one course from each of the following groups (Art 214 or 227 or 230; Art 221 or 222; Art 231 or 232) and Art 400, and one course in studio art (Art 111 or Art 134). With permission, up to eight credits in the art history concentration may be taken in related studies outside the department. The senior project in studio art and the senior thesis in art history will be considered ART 499 and must follow the College’s procedures for Mentored Advanced Projects (MAPs) as well as departmental procedures. Only one Art 499 (4 credits) may count toward the major. Pre-architecture students must include one semester each of laboratory physics and calculus and are advised to fulfill the studio concentration, though other majors are possible. At least 20 credits of coursework must be taken with the Department of Art at Grinnell. No more than 16 credits within a single art history area may count toward the major unless approved in advance by the department.
To be considered for honors in art, graduating seniors, in addition to meeting the College’s general requirements for honors, must demonstrate, by departmental consensus, superior performance in coursework combined with superior breadth or depth of curriculum. To be considered for honors in studio art, graduating seniors must also complete a MAP.
History and Theory
A thematic and cross-cultural study of art and architecture as expressions of diverse social, intellectual, religious, and aesthetic values, primarily in Western societies since antiquity, with reference to certain East Asian and African traditions. Emphasis on developing critical skills. Use of Grinnell College Art Collection.
An introduction to the history of women’s involvement in the visual arts. Concerned with ways of analyzing changing relationships among gender, culture, and creativity. The focus is on a historical study of women as producers of art, with emphasis on the various ways women have responded to social conditions determining the production of art, and on defining the issues and methods of investigations, based on feminist critiques of conventional art historical approaches.
Study of major developments in architecture and art from the Carolingian through Gothic periods (9th–14th centuries). Primary focus on architectural design and structure (as at Durham, Canterbury, Lincoln, Cluny, Paris, Chartres, Amiens), including the roles of sculpture and manuscript painting within their social, political, religious, and intellectual climates. Option of executing projects in architectural design or doing reading in French, German, Italian, Latin, or Spanish.
Examination of 19th-century Romantic and Realist painting as critical responses to the period’s dramatic political, industrial, and cultural transformations and as the foundation of artistic “modernity.” Emphasis on issues of high and mass culture; art and political voice; representations of non-Europeans; relevance of the canon; tensions between the urban and natural worlds; and creation of the Avant-Garde.
A study of major artists, works, and issues in European Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting (c. 1865–1900). Specific movements include Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Symbolism, and Art Nouveau.
A study of Italian culture from the late 13th through the late 16th centuries as expressed in painting, sculpture, architecture, and urban design. Emphasis on political, social, religious, and intellectual factors shaping artistic theory and expression in Florence, Siena, Rome, Venice, and the courts at Mantua and Urbino. Option of doing some reading in French, German, Italian, or Latin.
Primarily a study of Netherlandish and German painting and printmaking of the 15th and 16th centuries (Van Eyck, Bosch, Gruenewald, Duerer, Baldung Grien, Holbein, Bruegel). Emphasis on the functions and audiences for religious and secular work in light of original sources and recent criticism. Use of late medieval and Renaissance images and prints in the College Art Collection. Option of doing some reading in French, German, or Latin.
An examination of major movements in European art from 1900–1940, including Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, Constructivism, and Socialist Realism. Focus upon the historical contexts of art production and reception. Readings range from contemporary criticism to historical analysis. Investigation of recurrent problems such as primitivism, gender, authorship, and cultural politics.
An examination of developments primarily in American and European art since 1945, from Abstract Expressionism to current trends such as the globalized art market. Particular attention to art since 1960: Pop, Happenings, Black Art, Minimalism, Conceptualism, Earth Works, Feminist Art, Video, and Installation. Readings range from contemporary criticism to historical analysis from a variety of perspectives (e.g., formal, multicultural, deconstructive).
A survey of American art within its cultural, philosophical, and social contexts. Topics include: colonial portraiture; history painting, landscape, and vernacular expressions in the 19th century; and the sources and development of modernism and postmodernism.
Study of major buildings and concepts of urban development from the late Imperial age of early Christianity (4th century) through the height of papal power in the Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo periods (18th century). We conclude with the vast urban reconstructions under Mussolini and their legacy in the contemporary city. Use of historical maps in the College Art Collection. Option of executing design projects or doing some reading in French, German, Italian, or Latin.
An examination of the history of museums, museum operations, funding, ethics, and the philosophical and intellectual issues raised by the contemporary museum. The course will focus on art museums, but many of the topics will pertain to history, ethnographic, science, and other types of museums.
An exploration of the materials and methods of primary art historical research and museum practice through the organization and presentation of an exhibition. Students work directly with art objects, using works in the Grinnell College Art Collection and/or borrowed from lenders. Topic and instructor vary; see current Schedule of Courses. Course may be repeated once for credit.
An intensive study of selected problems with emphasis on research, methodology, and critical evaluation of a special area as announced in the current Schedule of Courses. May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credits if different topics are taken each time.
The preparation, writing, and public presentation of a piece of advanced art-historical research in any area of art history. Students must obtain approval of a department member as faculty director. The MAP application must be completed with the required project statement and with all faculty signatures before submission to the Office of the Registrar. All applications are subject to the approval of the associate dean of the College.
Introduction to the Studio is a beginning level studio course designed to introduce and ground students in core principles of art making in a rigorous, handson studio. These principles will be taught though a series of practical exercises using traditional and digital tools. Emphasis will be placed on developing skills, knowledge of materials, methods of observation and translation, collaboration, discussion, and creative discipline.
An introduction to observational drawing and contemporary drawing practice. Subjects will include architecture, objects, landscape, and the figure. Traditional and non-traditional media will be explored. Emphasis on technical skill, perceptual development, and critical skills.
This course involves an exploration of print processes. Emphasis is placed on the development of individual skills and an aesthetic appreciation of prints through creation, production, and study. This investigation includes historical and contemporary roles of multiples within the context of select media and broader artistic practices.
This course is an introduction to the materials, techniques, and practice of painting. Such a practice is concerned with issues, both technical and intellectual, that will give students the knowledge to transpose, construct, and execute using the medium of paint.
An introduction to clay as a medium for visual expression with an emphasis on hand building, throwing, conceptual problem-solving, glazing, and firing. Students will construct both sculptural and functional forms, with particular attention paid to the development of technical skills, surface enrichment through texture, and creativity in the construction of three-dimensional forms.
This course will explore techniques and concepts employed by contemporary sculptors. Students will utilize materials from the ephemeral to the permanent to explore issues of space and construction through a series of creative projects.
This course explores contemporary digital media art practice. Students will work with a variety of software, hardware, and digital tools in addressing visual ideas. This course encourages students to employ the computer as a visualthinking tool.
This advanced studio course involves investigating and expanding a visual idea across a range of media. Students have an opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary, expansive approach to art making.
An interdisciplinary studio course designed to introduce students to contemporary artistic practices and concepts. Emphasis is placed on ideation, concept, and form integration.
An intensive practice based course in which the problem of place and location is examined in relation to the development of a student’s individual body of work.
Senior project: a concentrated focus within a specific medium in which the student has extensive experience. This course is aimed at the establishment of a personal direction in content and personal expression while developing a mature portfolio in preparation for an advanced degree. The project includes preparation, creation, and public presentation of a body of artwork. Seniors must obtain approval of a department member for the desired medium as supervisor of the project. A MAP application must be completed with the required project statement and with all faculty signatures before submission to the Office of the Registrar. All applications are subject to approval of the dean of the College.
- College Catalog