FAAH3212 Introduction to the Theory of Art
1) Discuss the role of the artist in the production and/or transmission of meaning of a work of art following the theories of Michel Foucault’s “What is an Author?” by comparing the work and practice of one contemporary artist (active between 1985 and the present) of your choosing to your own studio practice and work. Your overall argument should focus on the work of the artist you choose, and your discussion of your own work should be addressed in no more than two paragraphs. In developing your argument, consider the following questions: what qualities, characteristics, actions etc. defines an artist; what factors influence or determine how one might understand the meaning of a work of art as ‘coming from’ or expressing the ‘intention’ of the artist; how does the role of the audience contribute to one’s understanding of the artist, and what problems might these definitions and understandings of the artist present? Since you will be drawing from your own work, please include photographs of one or two example of your studio work in comparison to one or two works by the artist you choose. In developing your argument, you may also want to consider other theoretical perspectives that may be relevant to the artist you choose, such as those from Judith Butler’s “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution,” Teju Cole’s “A True Picture of Black Skin,” Jennifer Doyle’s “Queer Wallpaper,” bell hooks, “The Oppositional Gaze,” Candace Hopkin’s “On Other Pictures,” Amelia Jones’s “‘Every man knows how and where beauty gives him pleasure’: Beauty Discourse and the Logic of Aesthetics,” or Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.”
2) Explore an iconographic analysis of one of the works listed below following the theories of Erwin Panofsky in “Iconography and Iconology.” Your analysis should focus on an interpretation of the work in terms of its motifs and the narrative or allegorical meanings they express. In developing your argument, explore and explain how the work draws on various sources, and in turn how its meaning depends on an interpretation of those sources. While your focus should be primarily on iconography, you should also briefly explore the iconological significance of the work in a paragraph or two at the end of your essay. Choose only one of the following works to analyze: Kent Monkman Duel after the Masquerade, 2007, acrylic on canvas Diana Thorneycroft, The Martyrdom of the Great One, 2006, chromogenic digital prints
3) Explore the role of language in the production, reception, and/or interpretation of one of the works listed below, by drawing on the semiotic theories of Roland Barthes from “Rhetoric of the Image” and Meyer Schapiro from “On Some Problems in the Semiotics of Visual Art.” In developing your argument, consider the following questions: how does this work explore problems of text-image relations; what aspects of this work might require a linguistic understanding; what aspects of this work might exceed linguistic understanding; how might one approach this work as language and/or as anti-language?
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