History of Art



This gallery-based course examines modern and contemporary art from Europe, North Africa, and the US through the notion of ‘borders’. It will consider the ways in which visual culture (painting, photography, new media, and performance) has pictured, produced, and contested borders, understood geographically, historically, and epistemologically. We will approach borders both in their physical, as well as abstract manifestations, focusing on the ever shifting boundaries between systems of thought, empires and colonies, processes of urbanisation and constructions of the ‘periphery’. What are the ideological underpinnings of borders, who do they serve, and how do they become disputed? Throughout the course, we will examine borders as a space that undergoes constant negotiations. For example, we will consider representations of the Mediterranean Sea, visualised both as frontier between two continents and as site of encounter. By querying the meaning of borders as such, we will also critically approach the discipline of art history and its proposed delineations of time periods, geographical spaces, and consecutive movements. How do we place Pablo Picasso’s oeuvre within histories of European modern art in light of his appropriation of African material culture? Through visits to the National Gallery, Tate Modern, the Ben Uri Gallery, Autograph ABP, and other exhibition spaces in London, as well as engagement with works by artists including Julia Margaret Cameron, Paul Gauguin, Mohammed Melehi, and the East Los Angeles based Asco collective, we will attempt to collectively address these questions.