Art History and Visual Culture

Welcome to the Department of Art History and Visual Culture.

The art history and visual culture major endeavors to provide a fundamental understanding of the visual world from a variety of viewpoints. Courses investigate the production of art, architecture, and film through the technical, social, economic, cultural, psychological, and epistemological forces at work when they were produced and viewed. The major places a particular emphasis on how images form beliefs and values, taking into account issues of ethnicity, gender, and class. Addressing questions of chronology, theory, and methodology, the curriculum proceeds from a disciplinary to an interdisciplinary approach, guiding students in the development of analytical and synthetic thinking about visual culture. Students are encouraged to take classes in Communication and Media Studies and Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies and to apply the methods from these disciplines to the study of art history and visual culture.

Students who have completed the major will be prepared to enter graduate and specialized studies in art history and visual culture. They may also choose a career in a gallery, museum, auction house, in the art-publishing sector, and some specialized corporate environments. 

Faculty

  • Hrisanta Trebici Marin

  • Gabriel Gee

  • Clarice Zdanski

  • Johanna Fassl

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Research and Initiatives

Professors Gabriel Gee and Alison Vogelaar Publish New Book

Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Communication, Gabriel Gee, and Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies, Alison Vogelaar, have co-edited a new publication entitled “Changing representations of nature and city: the 1960s – 1970s and their legacies”, in Routledge Advanced Series in Art History, 2018.

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Publication Highlights

A. Maggiani & G. Warden, “Authority and Display in Sixth-Century Etruria: the Vicchio Stele.” In Roman Law Before the Twelve Tables: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2019.

Gee G.N & Vogelaar A. eds, Changing representations of nature and the city: the 1960s -1970s and their legacies, London, New York: Routledge, 2018.

A. Nocentini, S. Sarti & G. Warden, Acque Sacre, culto Etrusco sull’Appennino Toscano Florence: Consiglio regionale della Toscana, 2018

Gee G.N, “Painting within itself: the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition”, Journal of contemporary painting, Issue 2, Vol.4, October 2018, pp.345-61.

Gee, G.N, ed., “From loss to survivals: on the transmission and reconstruction of artistic gestures”, Intervalla, Vol. 5, 2017

Gee, G.N. Art in the North of England. 1979-2008, London, New York, Routledge: an Ashgate book, 2017.

Fassl, J. & Wiedmer C., eds, “Trauma, abstraction and creativity”, Intervalla, Vol.2, 2015

Zdanski, C. "Finding the Place of Art in Society: The Value of On-site, Hands-on Experience in Art Education in the Digital Age," The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review, Volume 9 (June 2015) 

Gee, G.N. “From stone to flesh: the deconstruction and reconstruction of the British monument” in Monument et modernité dans l’art et la littérature britanniques et américains, Marc Porée & Christine Savinel, eds, Paris, Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2015.

Fassl, J. Sacred Eloquence: Giambattista Tiepolo and the Rhetoric of the Altarpiece. Boston University Series of "Studies in Early Modern European Culture." New York and Bern, 2010

G. Warden, Greek Vase Painting: Form, Figure, and Narrative, Dallas: Meadows Museum and Southern Methodist University Press, 2004.

Majors and Minors

Art History and Visual Culture

Addressing questions of chronology, theory, and methodology, the curriculum proceeds from a disciplinary to an interdisciplinary approach, guiding students in the development of analytical and synthetic thinking about visual culture. Students are encouraged to take classes in Communication and Media Studies and Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies and to apply the methods from these disciplines to the study of art history and visual culture.

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Visual Communication Arts

In the Visual Communication majors, students engage in the evolving field of fashion studies, exploring fashion as practice, theory, object, image, and text. It focuses on studying fashion within the liberal arts curriculum, in terms of its histories, identities, and cultures in the contemporary world. The program prepares students for entry-level positions in careers of fashion research, including archives, museums, galleries, media, consulting, and the publishing sector; or retailing, distribution, and design.

Visual Communication Arts emphases are available in Fashion Studies and Studio Art.

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Minors

Projects and Activities

From 13-15 December, Prof. Zdanski travels to Paris for the Salon des Beaux Arts, where one of her paintings will be part of the collective work SOS Biodiversity by the artists of MEADOWS (Mediterranean Endeavours Advancing Development of Widespread Sustainability), a non-governmental, non-profit organization aiming to promote cultural exchange and advancement in the arts through its seventy-six chapters distributed worldwide. For the 2019 Salon, forty-six artists from all over the world were asked to produce a painting of a plant from his or her country. The theme of the exhibition makes a plea for the defense of Nature and the protection of the natural environment by depicting our natural world and calling attention to the beauty of the diverse species in the biospheres of each MEADOWS artist. As stated by one of the show’s curators, “Biodiversity is our heritage and our salvation. Protecting it for ourselves and conserving it for posterity is our duty. The diversities of Nature expressed in so many different paintings from just as many different environments are here united in a single installation – a call to action to increase awareness about the need to protect our diversity, thereby giving a sense of hope for the future.

On Thursday 6 December, Prof. Zdanski joined the New Made Ensemble in a performance of composer Nicola Campogrande’s Tempi burrascosi (Stormy Weather). The work is a ‘favola in musica’, or tale read by an actor and set to music, with live painting. As pianist Rossella Spinosa and percussionist Simone Beneventi played the music, actor Marco Cacciola read Dario Voltolini’s version of the biblical creation and universal deluge, portrayed through the adventures of a fish and a dove. Professor Zdanski’s live paintings of the various scenes of the tale were projected on a large screen during the performance.

Art history classes in 2019 brought students in direct contact with artworks on several occasions, in locations as diverse as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin, and the newly opened foundation Prada in Milan. Here as part of a course on contemporary art, the outdoor visit is closer to home as the class is guided through the Olgiati collection at Spazio Meno Uno in Lugano by Davide Morandi: a treat through a temporary exhibition of works by Marisa Merz and a permanent display rich in Arte Povera pieces.

Students and Alumni

Daniela Baiardi“The highlight of classes I have taken so far in art history have been ‘Anthropologies of Art’, ‘Contemporary Art’ and ‘Artists Biopics’. Anthropologies of Art is a great class that gives excellent foundations in art historical studies; the course on Contemporary Arts completely changed my point of view on post-modernism, while opening my eyes to my fundamental interest into feminist art theory. Artists Biopics enabled me to further explore the male gaze and the representation of women on screen. This Fall 2018, I am the Academic Mentor for Professor Fassl's first year seminar on Renaissance Venice at the crossroads of East and North. This experience has given me the opportunity to act as the link between first year students and Professor Fassl. I have taken classes taught by Professor Fassl ever since my first semester at Franklin, and I am honored to assist in the first year seminar this semester.”

Daniela Baiardi, Class of 2020
Double major in Art History and Visual Culture, and Visual Communications (Studio Art)
Minor in Media Production and Publishing