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The Making of History of Art 15 Svetlana Alpers Art Journal, Vol. 54, No.

3, Rethinking the Introductory Art History Survey. (Autumn, 1995), pp. 62-65.
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John Berger. Ways of See~ng.London: BBC and Penguin Books, 1972. Madeline H. Caviness. "Patron or Matron? A4 Capetian Bride and a Vade Mecum for Her Marriage Bed." Speculum 68 (19931: 333-62.

Part 6: Michael Baxandall's Patterns of Intention (four class discussions) The final weeks of the course were devoted to a careful discussion of this difficult hook. Attention was given to the relationship between Baxandall's case studies and those that had been read previously. In the final meeting I shared one of my own interpretive projects-a study of the Louis d e Roncherolles window 115.221 from t h e C a t h e d r a l of Beauvais-which had been influenced by Baxandall's Patterns of lntentwn and Linda Seidel's storytelling.

lotter) most of the s ~ x to e~gtrt*ectlon* (each llrrrlted to 22 to 2 5 students1 taught annuall?. This b a s especiall! surprising in relation to our lnlt~al expectatton that M C ~ould need to offer onlj four sectlons durlng a s ~ n g l e acadernlc !ear. 4. The fir*t canon of core works conta~nedtlie .4rctr .of Constantine (312-151. ttre Sa~nte-Lhapelle 11243-481, Ill~clielangelds Ilazid 115011. Leonardo da \~nci'* Last Supprr (149.5-981, Edouard Illaneis Ol1mp1a 118631, Pablo Pirasso's Demorselles d.Yciprwn 119071. the Taj hIaha1 (1632-541. and R a n g >leng'* Duwlling in Retreat in the Blue Pien .$fountains 113661. The text> He agreed to include were: Kitzinger. "On ttre Interpretation of St!listic Change"; Sctrapiro. " F ~ u m hloiarahic to Kornane*que in Silo*": Se!mour. chapter 1 of .Mlchelanp~lr;sD a \ ~ d :Wnof>kj. "lconograph) and Iconolog!": Llpton, "hlanet: A Radical~zed Feniale Image?": Begle!. "The hl!th o f the Taj Illahaf': and 1- nog grad. '.Famil) Pmpert~eb." See course descr~ptlonfor complete reference*.


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his report on a revised introductory- course at BerMichael Baxandall. Patterns of Intentwn: On the Hzstorual keley is being written after the course was offered for Explanatwn of Putures. N ~ M Haken: f i l e U n ~ v e r s i t ~ the first time. It is still, in other words. provisional. Press, 1985. But since to be provisional is part of our intention, perhaps Linda Seidel. '"Jdn \ a n E ~ c k ' s Arnolfin~ Portrait': Business as this is as good a moment as any to go public. This report, al 16 ( 4 u t u m n 19891: 54-86. Usual!" C r ~ t ~ Inquzr~ then. is not intended as announcing a program and certainly not as proposing a model for others to follow. For while some of the problems we have addressed might b e widespread. the votes solution is ad hoc and site specific. And it is provisional. Ttris ehsa! narrates a proces* of curricular deconstruction. exploration. and reconFor some time there have been three introductory structlon that I *hared hetween *pring 1987 and fall 1988 with committed and ~nspir~n colleagues g at Swartlimore: Constance C a ~ n Hungerford. T. Kauri Kitao. and courses at Berkeley: the beginning of art (variously defined) esperlall! Diane O'Donoghue. ntro*e ded~catlonto interpretr\e ~ntegrit! and pedto Giotto. and Giotto to Picasso each had a semester, with a agogical creati\ it! Here ~nstrumentalin r e a l i i ~ n g a curricular \ Islon that could rrreet tlie challenges of ttre "new" art tr~stor\in a I~heralarts college. Thr course ahout separate semester given to the arts of Asia. The first and the wh~ctr1 \*ritewas nurtured and refined through tlie suhsrquent teachrngofthese *ame last have continued: it is the middle term that has given way. colleagues. j o ~ n e de\entuall) h! D a n ~ e l Srnartt and Illarihrth C;rayh~ll.atid through the cornrnitted d~alogue of se\eral generatLon* of Swarthrrrore *tudents. 1 also want to The need for change was overdetermined. Pressures of acknowledge with grat~tudem) enduring indehtrdness to Professor Ctrri>trne ihlcfunding and intellectual pressures accumulated and together Corkel1 Hasenmueller Colle\. ~ t r o In spring of 1973. at \anderh~ltUnl\ersit!. f ~ r s t introduced rrre to a , ision of thrs disciplrne as a n engrossing and singularl! rneaningcontributed to the result. With two professors (for some years fill proce*s in M hich art and it* histop could cont~nuall! he new. Ttris report is for her. Carol Armstrong and me) dividing the lectures of a long 1. This \\a*. 1 niust confe**. a n ea*) positlon for rrre to take when I hegan to argue for Berkeley term (fifteen weeks. or close to thirty eighty-minute curricular reform at ttre heginning of a term as department chair. . * a medie\alrst specializing In the stud) of French (;ottric stained glass. the art and artrsts that lectures). and five to six graduate-student instructors teachinterested me had alna! 5 resided outside or on the f r ~ n g e of s the canon. and canonlral ing sections, the old Giotto to Picasso course had been modes rd interpretation had not a l x a \ s heen ver! useful in stud!ing either. Ille!er Schap~ro had. after all. pro\ided a model of differentiated. nonlrnear. "postmodern" expensive to staff. The university judged it an uneconomical art h~storlcaldiscourse for rnrdievalist* since tlie 1930s. use of professorial time, while members of the department 2. "Educational Program: Program for Freshmen and Sophomores." Sl~,art/~rnore G ) l k a r Bi~lktiri9 2 . no. 1 iSeptemher 19941: 60. wanted to free graduate instructors for other courses. Mean3. A prlmar? fear was that *inre the nex cour*e would he rnore *erious. it would h r the history of art defined as Giotto less fun. and enrollments ~ o u l d drop. And IS fewer students took rntroductor, art histon durlng their first two )ears. not onI! would enrollments in upper-level cour*eb ingly seemed less central to the disciplinary enterprise. A deiline. hut fewer students would e1ec.t the art hi*tol-\ major. This doniino effert rnight ; . : Janson's History of Art sign had been the wild growth of H. P threaten the future of the Department of 4rt w i t h ~ n ttre rollege. nP Here ~ a r n e d h ! our as new venues and new groups jostled for space in a veritable colleagues that if a department like ours-wtr~ch unlrhe English L~teratureor Histor!. for example. cannot assume an audience of student* read) on arrival to enroll world history of art. Could the much-disputed core text in rts <,ourse*-based lt* ~ n t r o d u c t ovurrirulurn ~ rather on educatronal p r ~ n c ~ p l e s continue to survive simply because it supplied names, dates. than on attract~ng students. ~twould ultimate~! fa11 \irtim to enrollment *tatl*tlc*. 4 b a result of suctr anxiet,. sorne srnall department* at S~artlirnore rhose not to rethink and convenient take-home pictures for our their ~ ~ u r r i c u l u in m relation to the PI)(; initidti,? hut to argue instead that the) were Various proposals were entertained-a thematic apalrrad\ t c a c h ~ n e entn-lr\el courws that uualifird as PI)Cs. In our ca*e ttresr fears . *rern to ha\e heen unwarranted. The nrwl! created art l>iston intmducton course preach. perhaps? But it appealed to many ofthe faculty to try becanre so popular aniong studrnti seckinp to fulfili the humanrtie* PI)C requ~rement to put something together as a group. without a chrorlological ,earl1 rrrust take two to eraduatej and arnong humanitie> major* ierkin" to broaden tlie scope rdtheir interpretr\e ~nquir,that due t o o \ e r ~ u b s c r l l ~ t l o n were rdten forced to we organization. without a precise notion of coverage, and with
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the addition of lectures by a number of willing and interested outsiders-a historian perhaps, but also an anthropological archaeologist, a psychologist of perception, a practicing artist, a museum curator, a philosopher. What would hold the course together would be a group of nine to ten core works of art, European and American, but also Asian, which remained to be chosen. Each work was to be presented in a lecture, but all would be taken up from different points of view by the members of the departmental staff in the two to three lectures each was expected to give. A dossier-a photograph and a catalogue entry or its equivalent of each work-was to be assembled for each student, with some works, when possible, established instead by the purchase of an affordable book with good plates. These, together with museum visits, would take the place of Janson photographs. It was decided to forego a textbook. A photocopied reader was to be put together with essays/articles of relevance to the works or of some general interest. The lecturers from outside the field were invited to make a cameo appearance taking up anything they wished from their own work that had some bearing on thinking about or looking at works of art. The purpose was to produce alternative ways of looking. The scheme has the virtue of flexibility. It draws on the resident art history staff in any year and does not depend on the presence of a particular faculty member. It is also economical. Only one professor (a job I agreed to do for the first year) is necessary to schedule and coordinate the approximately eight internal and six external lecturers who offer their services without compensation. In order to trim down the number of graduate-student instructors employed, we decided to ask two to three students to spend their time reading and commenting on six short papers rather than using the normal five to six to prepare and to teach weekly discussion meetings with time to correct fewer papers. So, it was largely through consideration of a feasible teaching structure that this introductory course was transformed from a chronological survey, with an emphasis on learning names and dates as well as on pictorial analysis, to a practical course in looking, reading, listening, and most centrally, writing about works of art. By way of confirming this emphasis, but also fitting the exigencies of staffing, the necessary permission was obtained from the faculty-wide committee to waive the normal midterm and final exams. The hybrid nature of the history of art, a historical study that engages skills of visual attention and critical judgment, was built in without being argued. When the faculty met to implement this rough plan, the talk turned first to the list of core works. Each faculty member needed one work, also of interest to the others, that he or she would present in a single lecture. There was much give-and-take, and as it turned out, we did not each necessarily nominate our own particular work. A historical range and variety of media seemed desirable. The coverage was basically Renaissance to the present. The dossier and illus-

trated books were also in the back of our minds. The discussion was heated though it was not quite clear what was at stake. Memos went back and forth in the days that followed. It was an interplay about works of art that this faculty normally had no occasion to have. Here is the final list in the order in which they were actually presented by particular lecturers (the experiment, it must be emphasized, depends on local conditions): Vermeer Seurat Rodin Piero della Francesca Chardin Daumier Maya Lin Ingres Constable
Art of Painting (Alpers) La Grande Jatte (Alpers) Gates $Hell (Jacques de Caso, Anne Wagner) Resurrection (Michael Baxandall) Return from Market (Baxandall, Margaretta Lovell) Rue Transrwnain (fig. 15) (Wagner) Vietnam Veterans Memorial (fig. 16) (Lovell, Wagner) Portrait drawing (Lovell) Wivenhoe Park (T. J. Clark)


An Indian painting and temple (Joanna Williams) and a Chinese figure and a landscape painting (James Cahill) were presented outside of the list but in the future would be included. Since ancient and medieval art continued to be taught in the previous survey format, those faculty members did not take part here. For the possible implications of this for the introductory program as a whole, see below. When I first typed out the list, it put me in mind of a radio program broadcast on Saturday mornings that I fancied as a child. Listeners were invited to send in the names of four disparate items to a storyteller who was challenged to make a good tale out of them all. He always seemed to succeed. But we had nine items and multiple storytellers. At a second meeting we chose readings, to which each of the visiting lecturers added something they had written. The art history readings (roughly related to the core works) were as follows: Piero (Vasari's life); Chardin (Diderot from

F I G .15 Honore Daumier, Rue Transnonain, 75 April 7834,1834. lithograph.

12 x 17% inches. Private collection.


F I G . 16 Maya Lin. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 1982. black granite. 500 feet long. Washington. D.C.

the Salon of 1763, and some eighteenth-century French criticism); Daumier (from Baudelaire, Some French Caricaturists); Rodin (Rainer Maria Rilke, Dante, The Infirm, canto 33); Seurat (Meyer Schapiro, "Seurat and the Grand Jatte" and "Seurat"; Constable (Gombrich, from Art and Illusion); Clement Greenberg, "C6zanne and the Unity of Modern Art"; selections from Early Chinese Texts on Painting, ed. Susan Bush; Clifford Geertz, "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight." We tried to list what approaches or questions we would each concentrate on. Looking back at our notes, it is clear that such prior declarations were not always carried out. But the attempt to formulate them had its effect. The course was unadventurously titled 'Approaches to Art History." The students reported that they did get a sense of what these might be. And so to the course as given. The students heard two to three lectures each from eight art historians interspersed with lectures by six visitors. The visitors the first year were Margaret Conkey (archaeology/anthropology), Robert Brentan0 (history), James Steward (museum curator), Wayne Thiebaud (painter), Irvin Rock (perceptual psychology), and Richard Wollheim (philosophy). The lecturers were encouraged to talk for no more than an hour, leaving twenty minutes for questions and discussion. I attended every lecture as course coordinator and also, as it happened, as course animator, since it was not always easy for the class to respond on the spot to a lecturer. Some professors came to hear, and to

comment on, each other. Graduate students and others from the community dropped in to this or that lecture. It was a chance to hear colleagues one had never before heard give a course lecture. The lecturer's problem was how to present a few works while distilling what one thinks to be vital to one's trade to an interested but untutored audience. The results were often surprising. The situation altered what some of us were prepared to profess. An account of the making of pictures jostled with the larger circumstances in an unsettling way. The students, for their part, had to listen, look, read, and write. Their papers were commented on extensively and with care. The first assignment was simply to try to describe a work in the University Art Museum; the second to analyze one of the set readings; the third was on a single artist; the fourth on the difference made by the modes of presentation of art; the fifth a critique of one lecture; and the last a return, with the course under one's belt, so to speak, to attend to an object, any object, of one's choice with newly acquired skills consciously in play. The course appears to have been a success. A number of students want to become art history majors or, even better (to my way of thinking), to take up a double major adding art history to, for example, history, English, or psychology. The final papers were objectively better than the first, and the students knew that they had learned to write about art. The professors, both inside and outside the department, are willing to teach it again. From the students' point of view (I am basing myself here on an open discussion we had on the last day and on the student protocols required at Berkeley for every course), the greatest loss was the absence of weekly sections, not because of the teaching, it seems, but because they missed getting to know their fellow students. I was much taken by a young women dressed in black, midway back in the classroom, who protested that one looked at art by oneself and that the pleasure of this course was that it enabled one to learn how to do that with a minimum of interference. But next time we shall find some way at the beginning of the semester of making the students feel they are part of a course community. In the first weeks of the course, we shall try to arrange for groups of them to meet. The problem of size is, of course, like much else as I warned at the start, a local matter. Berkeley is a huge campus, and large lecture courses are as suspect as they are frequent. Surprisingly, perhaps, students did not regret the absence of chronology. An advantage of Berkeley's ad hoc mix of introductory courses is that, in contrast to this new course, beginnings to Giotto has retained a chronological presentation with a more traditional emphasis on learning names and dates. Our students can experience an alternative structure. But faced with so many different lecturers and no determining chronological narrative, they did want some help in tying things together. I found that the interconnections

were many and unforced: Rodinas peopled workplace and state commission followed on Vermeer's domestic retirement where the world was encountered as a woman, a map, a tapestry, and some objects on a table; Piero's work with pigments on wet plaster followed a discussion of new discoveries about the techniques of painting caves; the crowd mirrored in the memorial wall at W-ashington wanting paper on which to trace the names of the dead was followed by worshipers circling an Indian temple clockwise in the prescribed ritual manner. Finally, against these habits of making and looking, one lecturer traced how his puzzled dismissal of a contemporary painting was transformed into admiration. In the coming year, no lecturer will b e asked to give more than two lectures, and I shall use the released times to hold what might b e called a discussion section of the whole. What then has been the loss and what the gain? As a former teacher of, and an old-time believer in, the Giotto to Picasso survey, I think one thing that has been lost is the sense that art itself has a history. The history internal to the making of art, it should not b e forgotten, is a Vasarian heritage. Not the great names that have recently been the subject of so much bad temper, but the recording of an impersonal, successive development and handing on of pictorial skills inflected this way and that. In a previous time, in the old hanging, the Italian paintings in the National Gallery in London magnificently made the point. From &sari to the National Gallery, this point, but also the discipline of history of art itself, began and developed out of the example of Italian art (though at times, of course, taking issue with it). A problem facing art history as a discipline is what holds us together when that Italian center, the breeding ground and testing place of so much looking, thinking, and writing about art and its history, is no longer in place. Attending to a small number of works of art in play between a number of teachers and students is a possible beginning. 0


n our discipline the survey represents the epitome of contested territory. It promises a bold description of what is important, a staking of territory, the definition of borders, and, more surreptitiously, the creation of a system for owning and governing that territory, in the form of a methodology. This urge to colonize is more the case in the history of art than in other academic disciplines, because other disciplines in the American system of higher education rarely if ever propose to present the sum of accumulated knowledge in a coherent, ideally seamless, chronological

journey lasting exactly two semesters and traveling from the beginning of human history to the immediate present. To change the survey is thus to make a fundamental statement about the discipline-to transform, and to recommit. It is, no doubt, for precisely this reason that so many departments have found the survey to rest at the core of debates about the curriculum, and have found revision of the survey to confirm and to exacerbate schisms and disputes among factions within the faculty. Reordering the art historical survey course is not a simple matter of high ideals and reasoned debate. It is also a tense contest of values, and economics: areas of study diminish, others expand; faculty members ask or are asked to retrain into new areas and to rethink their fundamental dogma; individuals, often the ones most used to power and influence, are expected to abandon cherished lectures and courses, while others are asked to add to their teaching loads in the name of disciplinary transformation. To change the survey is, in other words, a deeply politic,al act. not only in the convenient politics to which we academics a r e so accustomed-the politics of high words in the classroom and global position statements at professional conferences-but also in the realpolitik, where one person's values make demands on others who may fundamentally disagree, where compromise is painful and consensus a chimera. This process is rarely fought out in the language of theory. Instead, discussions in curriculum committees and faculty meetings take on the tense incomprehensibility of a David Mamet play: everything is significant, and everything significant is held back, in a complex contest to win the field without opening one's own side to a scrutiny that might reveal its flaws. All this became apparent when our large, broadly defined, undergraduate-based department began its transformation of the survey in the mid-1980s, a process that has yet to end, and that I will use as a test case and a metaphor for the larger issues behind the survey. This case has interest, I think, because it resulted in a shift not only in the muterinl of the survey, but in its structure. Indeed, shifts in the material necessitated a shift in structure for reasons deeply imbedded in philosophy and as equally bound u p in the pragmatics of the moment. In some departments, I imagine, fundamental changes in pedagogy come about as a result of heroic individuals and concerted, principled debate. In most cases, however, I suspect that such shifts take place as they did in ours: a s a result of small changes that result, finally. in a crisis not of faith but of structure. It is not that we fail to believe in what we are doing. Rather it is that we can't organize it properly. We carit figure out how to do the things we say we are doing. And so we rethink what we do. In the case of my department, a number of conditions and events conspired to bring us to this moment. Until roughly a decade ago, the survey had been almost exclusively