Department of Art and Design Patti & Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts

Course Descriptions

General Surveys of the History of Art

AD 22600: History of Art since 1400

This course traces the history of the visual arts, both monumental and small-scale, from their origins in the Prehistoric era to the late Middle Ages in Western Europe. Students learn to appreciate works of art on their own terms and as products of a particular culture and made in a particular period of time. Elements of style, content, and artistic technique are explained so that class members can identify examples they see in books or that they encounter first-hand in museums or in their travels. The cultural background of the works shown is demonstrated. 
This course fulfills the CLA Core Curriculum Requirement for “Aesthetic Awareness”. Typically offered every Fall.

AD 22700: History of Western Art since 1400

This course demonstrates and explains the history of Western Art from the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy to the present day in Europe and America. We learn to identify images and artistic trends over several different periods of time, seeing how artists in individual countries made important contributions to the visual arts. In the process, we focus on major artistic personalities who shaped the visual expression of their time while reflecting contemporary cultural values. Whenever possible, art is related to politics and historical events, as well as to literature and music. We also try to understand how the art made was received by viewers. 
This course fulfills the CLA Core Curriculum Requirement for “Aesthetic Awareness”. Typically offered every Spring.


Art History Practices and Theories

AD 32700: Theories of Art from the Renaissance to the Digital World

The goal of this course is to provide you with an overview of art theories in the Western world from the Renaissance to the present, as well as a presentation of different tools and methods used to research, discuss, and display art. We will start the semester by examining the formation the Western Canon, that is to say the body of artworks that is regarded as representing “great art,” and the process of inclusion and exclusion that came with it. We will then consider how this established canon was successively challenged by Avant-Garde artists, Feminist art historians and artists, Post-Colonial thinkers, and more recently proponents of Global art history. We will conclude the course by reflecting on the reception of art in its cultural and social dimensions, and discussing what it means for institutions such as museums which display art. By focusing on art history’s history, rather than key monuments or artworks, you will develop a more sophisticated understanding of art history, and of the challenges facing the discipline in today’s global and digital world, In addition to building historiographic knowledge and theoretical understanding of art history, you will learn about different tools used to research, write, and publish about art. To do so, you will meet with professionals, learn about their works and, with their help, develop a Digital Humanities research project.

AD 39600: Art Museum Practices 

This course examines the role of art museums in our culture, which fulfill an important social need and contain various types of collections, ranging from large civic museums to more modest regional and local facilities with specialized holdings. We learn about museums’ administrative structure and the many different types of positions they include, as well as their method of operation, such as putting on exhibitions, conducting educational programs, and developing community relations. Forming a budget and knowing how to govern a large or small group of employees is another aspect of museum administration. Professional personnel from local museums are invited to come and speak to the class about their individual responsibilities and the type of work they do. Another task of museums is to conserve and restore the works of art in their possession. Students learn about several different kinds of exhibition activities, including how displays are designed and mounted; class members may have the practical experience of putting on a show. It also is essential for students to visit a few museums and see how they function. Another major topic is the architectural design of museums as it has developed over a few centuries, with the types of materials used and the layout of such structures having evolved significantly. Finally, the course informs students about career possibilities in the museum world, showing how undergraduates can begin to prepare for this type of employment.


Ancient and Medieval Periods

AD 31100: Ancient Greek Art

This course introduces students to the wealth and variety of Greek art as it developed over several centuries, from its antecedents during the Bronze in the Aegean to its full flowering in the Hellenistic period. We learn about the glories of Greek architecture and sculpture, which reached a high point in the Classical era and then achieved an even richer naturalism and emotional impact in in the centuries that followed. We also look closely at Greek ceramics, which like sculpture, illustrates many stories of Greek mythology and goes through a fascinating development of its own, sometimes personalized by artists’ signatures. Other course topics include Greek mosaic pavements made to decorate private homes, and Greek jewelry, of which many fine examples have been found in tombs. All of the visual arts are seen against the background of Greek society and its literature. There is planned a visit to a regional collection of Greek Art. Lastly, it is shown how the Greeks prepared the way for the art of the Romans, their successors in the Mediterranean world.
This course fulfills the CLA Core Curriculum Requirement for “Western Heritage”

AD 31200: Roman Art

Roman art holds special interest partly because of its strong historical content and its superb contribution to architecture and engineering, both of which have had a lasting influence. Roman portraiture gives us a precious and direct insight into these bold and resourceful people, who from humble beginnings in central Italy rose to create an empire that dominated the western world. Through the medium of sculptural relief, Romans recorded the lives of private individuals (some of very modest means) as well as the deeds and policies of their rulers, visible for example on marble triumphal arches. In the private sphere, Roman craftsmen produced superb wall painting and colorful floor mosaics, which not only mirror mythical themes but also celebrate the patrons’ worldly success and opulent lifestyle. Among the small-scale decorative arts, Roman glassmaking and jewelry achieved exceptional results that we can admire in museums today and that rival some of the best modern objects in these media. Roman society and its art not only formed the culminating phase of classical civilization but also looked ahead, laying the foundation of the Medieval world.
This course fulfills the CLA Core Curriculum Requirement for “Western Heritage”

AD 35900: Medieval European Art

The Middle Ages in Western Europe, inspired by the Christian religion, produced some of the greatest monuments of western civilization, namely, the imposing cathedrals of the Romanesque and Gothic eras. Upon entering the Cathedral of Chartres in central France, one arrives in a heavenly environment, transparent in structure and shimmering with colored light filtered through stained glass. Sculptural decoration on the building’s exterior also records the teachings of the faith and creates figures of refined grace. Other outstanding achievements of the Medieval era, besides its architecture (both religious and secular), and made over a period of centuries, include illuminated manuscripts. These are handmade books richly decorated with painting, which not only brings to life stories of the Bible but also, in other instances, illustrate scientific learning and record works of secular literature. One thinks for example of the famous epic The Song of Roland. In the class, we learn about the organization and method of production of artists’ workshops. Yet another major form of Medieval art is the weaving of textiles, used especially to decorate interiors. These make historical and allegorical references and reflect contemporary life. All of the visual arts of the Medieval era are viewed within a larger cultural context.

AD 34800: History Of Islamic Art

Islam, one of the world’s major religions, gave birth to a vibrant and rich artistic tradition, stretching chronologically from the 7th century A.D. to the modern era and crossing many geographic boundaries. Of primary importance to this religion is the making of places of worship, called mosques, that combine domes, arches, and towers in a fascinating way. They also are decorated with intricate geometric designs, reflecting the Arab peoples’ skill in mathematics, a type of learning they passed on to the west. Equally beautiful are the palaces made for Islamic royalty. The book recording the prophet Muhammad’s teachings, named the Qur’an, is also of central importance to Islamic art, and the text is written in a flowing script or calligraphy, embellished with sumptuous ornament. Students learn about all of these arts, which in the case of books also include secular texts, such as histories and works of poetry, which have figural decoration. That is also true of many of the ceramics made by Islamic craftsmen. A high point of Islamic civilization occurred at the beginning of the modern era with the great empires formed in Turkey, Iran, and India. These empires yielded extraordinary art, such as carpets and other textiles, and rich metalwork. The course follows the development of Islamic art to the present day.
This course fulfills the CLA Core Curriculum Requirement for “Other Culture”


Renaissance and Baroque Periods

AD 34600: Italian Renaissance Art

The course provides students with a comprehensive yet critical understanding of Italian Renaissance arts. It considers the major artistic centers of the period and the artists who worked in each of these regional centers. It examines the role of patronage and emulation in the artistic developments of the time, and relates these developments to the religion, politics, economics and domestic life of the period. Major artists studied range from Giotto in the early 14th century to Donatello and Botticelli in the 15th century and Leonardo and Michelangelo in the 16th century.

AD 34300: Northern Renaissance Art

This course considers the art and architecture created in Northern Europe from the late 14th century to the 16th century. It examines the contribution of major artists such as Van Eyck, Bosch, Bruegel and Durer, and questions the relationships between the visual arts and the politics, religion, economics, and life of the period.

AD 38000: Baroque Art

Baroque Art is a survey of European art and architecture during the 17th century, focused on Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. Major artists of this period include Caravaggio, Bernini, Velazquez, Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer. Works of art are seen in a broad social and cultural context, including the Counter-Reformation and the rise of capitalism.


Modern and Contemporary Periods

AD 38200 - A Global History of Art, 18th-19th Centuries

This course is intended to provide you with a global and critical understanding of circulations in the global history of art through a study of the artistic and cultural exchanges between Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, which will be placed in the broader context of the West’s fascination and interaction with the Orient from the 18th century to the present.
We will see how Marco Polo’s tales of the Middle Kingdom and subsequent exports of Chinese ceramics, lacquers, and textiles conjured up fanciful and poetic notions of China in Europe starting in the 17th century. In the 18th century, objects in the Chinese style became fashionable and artists introduced Chinese motifs into their works, thereby giving birth to the Chinoiseries. But soon Western embassies to the Ottoman Empire brought back similarly fantastic stories about the Sultan’s lavish life at the Topkapi Serail, leading to the Turqueries craze among European ladies. We will then consider how in the early 19th century the tales of travelers who had ventured in the deserts and oases of the Middle East triggered the development of Orientalist painting. Next, we will see how Europe was flooded with Japanese kimonos, fans, lacquers, ceramics, and woodcut prints when Japan reopened itself to the West in the mid-nineteenth century, and how the ukiyo-e prints offered Western artists a fresh approach to the depiction of daily life and to the representations of space, thereby contributing to the “modernization” of Western Art.
All along, we will see how artists from the Middle and Far East responded to these encounters with Western art and culture, and consequently transformed their own artistic traditions. We will end the course by reflecting on the artistic métissages that resulted from those connected histories and ultimately led to the globalization of contemporary art. 
This course fulfills the CLA Core Curriculum Requirement for “Global Perspectives”

AD 38300: Modern Art from Impressionism to Surrealism: The time of the Avant-gardes

This course is intended to provide you with a comprehensive yet critical understanding of European and American modern art. Starting our journey in the late 19th century, we will examine how independent artists broke free from the joke of the Academy and the limits of academic art. We will study the successive avant-garde movements from Impressionism to Surrealism, focusing on artists whose works and examples left a vivid mark on the history of art. We will consider each movement in its specific conceptual framework and larger historical context. We will discuss, for instance, the influence of scientific discoveries such as X-rays or atoms on Modern art, as well as the consequences of the First World War on the artistic panorama.
In addition to building your knowledge and understanding of modern art, you will also develop your analytical and writing skills through weekly writing exercises.
This course fulfills the CLA Core Curriculum Requirement for “Aesthetic Awareness”. Typically offered every Fall 

AD 38400: Contemporary Art: Triumph and Crisis of Modernity

This course is intended to provide you with a comprehensive yet critical understanding of Western European and American art from the early 1940s to the 2000s. Starting our journey during the Second World War, we will examine the different ways artists attempted to create art after Auschwitz and Hiroshima, in a world shattered and divided. As we progress, we will study successive artistic movements in their historical context and conceptual framework, focusing on the artists’ responses to historical events such as the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Space Conquest, the Vietnam War, as well as on the impact of philosophical and cultural trends such as Existentialism, mass-mediatization or Post-structuralist theories.
In addition to building your knowledge and understanding of contemporary art, you will also develop your analytical and writing skills through textual studies of primary and secondary sources, as well as writing exercises. Typically offered every Spring

AD 34400: Latin American Art in the Twentieth-Century

This course is intended to provide you with a comprehensive yet critical understanding of the creative achievements of Latin American artists in the 20th century art. Starting our discussion in the 1920s, we will study major currents in the visual arts of Latin American countries - particularly Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico -, focusing on artists whose works and examples left a vivid mark on the history of art. We will consider each movement and artist in both their specific socio-cultural context and in a larger art historical perspective. We will discuss, for instance, the creation of a national Mexican artistic identity in the wake of the Mexican Revolution, as well as the Brazilian and Argentinian artists’ use of conceptual art as subversive strategy during the military dictatorships of the 1960s and 1970s. Throughout the semester, we will continuously raise the questions of whether it is possible to identify a specifically “Latin American” style or imagery, and of what terminology might be used to talk about art made by artists from that region. Finally we will examine the role and position of Latin American artists within the international art scene.
In addition to building your knowledge and understanding of Latin American art, you will also develop your analytical and writing skills through weekly writing exercises.
This course fulfills the CLA Core Curriculum Requirement for “Other Culture”

AD 33900: Women Artists in the Twentieth-Century

This course is intended to provide you with a comprehensive yet critical understanding of the creative achievements of women artists in the 20th century. Starting our discussion with Linda Nochlin’s controversial article, “Why have there been no great women artists?,” we will consider the various challenges faced by women active in the visual arts during that period, and the ways they tried and successfully overcame those limits. We will also reflect on the ways women have been traditionally portrayed through the history of art and how those artistic conventions influenced the perceptions and creations of women artists. We will focus our discussion on a selection of artists who exemplify particular situations, historical periods, or artistic movements from the late 19th century to the present. We will examine the work and contribution of each artist in both their specific socio-cultural context and in a larger art historical perspective. Throughout the semester, we will also raise the questions of whether it is possible to identify a specifically “female” or “feminine” imagery, and of what terminology might be used to talk about art made by women. In addition to building your knowledge and understanding of women artists’ contribution to modern and contemporary art, you will also develop your analytical and writing skills through studies of fundamental essays on women and art.
This course fulfills the CLA Core Curriculum Requirement for “Gender Issues”


Supporting Courses

AD 25100: History Of Photography I

An introduction of the history of photography from the medium's inception until 1950. Emphasis is placed on understanding photographs from a variety of aesthetic, social, and cultural perspectives, including those of race, class, and gender. 

AD 30701: History Of Contemporary Photography

This course examines evolution of major themes in contemporary photography (Digital era to Present) from a variety of aesthetic, social, and cultural perspectives, fostering an awareness of pertinent theoretical issues.

AD 39500 - History Of Design

This course is a survey of the history of design from 1850 to present with an emphasis on designers, workers/makers, consumers, and users as well as the broader social, cultural, political, economic, and technological contexts of design production, consumption, and use. In addition to providing an overview of the major stylistic movements in American and European design history covering a range of design disciplines (industrial design, interior design, architecture, graphic design, fashion, craft), this course will also examine the history of design in Japan and China, and explore some of the broader issues, problems, and ideas in the development of design practice internationally. Students will read scholarly and primary texts, watch films, and engage in activities designed to develop critical analysis and research skills in the field of design history.Typically offered every Fall.

AD 38500 - History of Interior Designn

This course is a survey of the History of Interior Design from ancient cultures to the late 19th century. Using a range of primary source and scholarly materials, this course will introduce students to the practice of design historical analysis and research, and will examine the social, cultural, and political contexts of design. As a global history, this course will consider the role of design in its cultural context, but also the exchange of design practice and aesthetics across space and time.Typically offered every Spring.

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Undergraduate Plan of Study

Minor Plan of Study

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