Art majors at Reed study both art history and studio art, which the department sees as complementary disciplines. Introductory courses provide a foundation and an intensive experience in the practice of art or creative scholarship for both prospective majors and nonmajors.
In studio art, the 200-level courses stress formal, technical, and conceptual topics in a broad range of projects. More independent exploration, which might involve further work in the traditional core media or branch off into more experimental forms, is encouraged in 300-level courses. In art history, the introductory course introduces students to the discipline of art history through a detailed, methodologically based examination of a particular body of art. Advanced courses acquaint students with selected periods and movements in art and in the various methods of art historical research, as students learn to refine their powers of critical observation by looking, talking, and writing at length about individual works of art.
The advanced student may undertake independent work in areas of special interest. In recent years majors have often supplemented their program at Reed with a semester or year of studio art, architecture, museum training, or art history research at cooperating institutions in Europe, the United States, or elsewhere, as well as with summer internships at major museums.
Art history facilities include a large conference room equipped with slide and digital projection equipment, a visual resources collection, a secure study room where students can examine books and works from the collection, and a first-class gallery. These offer students the possibility of working closely with original objects.
The studio arts building houses classrooms for painting, printmaking, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, photography and digital media; a gallery/critique space; a seminar/projection room; faculty offices and studios; private senior studios; and a lounge.
The Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery shows art of national and international stature through traveling exhibitions and those curated by the gallery director and faculty members. For more complete information on the gallery, see the "Educational Program" section of this catalog.
Requirements for the Major
For students doing a studio thesis: four units of art history, including Art 201 and at least one course in non-Western art; seven units of studio art, including Art 161; and Art 470. At least one semester of a 300-level studio course should be completed before the thesis year. For students doing an art history thesis: five units of art history, including Art 201, at least one course in non-Western art, and one course at the 400 level; four units of studio art, including Art 161; and Art 470.
No art major, except one who transfers with junior standing, may use more than one unit of studio art and one unit of art history from outside Reed to fulfill departmental requirements.
Interdisciplinary majors are normally allowed to waive two units from the departmental requirement, one each from art history and studio art.
Applicants planning to major in art are not normally considered before successful completion, or reasonable certainty thereof, of Art 161 and 201. Transfers from other colleges, for whom in some cases one of these introductory courses may be waived, are expected to take a comparable amount of coursework at Reed (one unit of art history and one unit of studio art) before they can be considered as majors.
Normally, before taking the junior qualifying exam, students should have taken the following courses at Reed (in addition to Art 161 and 201): for students planning a studio art thesis, at least one unit of studio art at the 300 level; for students planning an art history thesis, three units of art history.
The senior thesis encourages students to pursue a significant, clearly defined project through individual initiative and independent work, culminating in a unified body of art or historical study.
Pacific Northwest College of Art Program
Reed students are eligible to apply to a joint program with the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA). The joint program requires five years: the first and second years at Reed, followed by a two-year course of full-time study at PNCA, and a fifth year combining work at both institutions. Graduates of this program receive a bachelor of arts from Reed and a bachelor of fine arts from PNCA.
Students interested in this course of study are strongly advised to meet with the Reed chair of the joint program before the end of their first year. Although application to the program occurs in the fourth semester, it is important that students be aware of the requirement differences for the Reed art and joint program majors. Applicants to the program are recommended by the Reed chair, and acceptance is contingent upon successful completion of at least 16 units of Reed credit, including at least three units of studio art and one unit of art history at Reed.
Art 161 - Visual ConceptsFull course for one semester. This course introduces the concepts and processes of studio art through drawing and other media. The work will involve traditional and nontraditional approaches to representation and abstraction, and investigate such problems as appropriation and the media, symbolism, narrative, temporality, and site specificity. The focus of the course may vary each semester, depending on the interests and areas of expertise of the faculty. Areas of focus may include painting, printmaking, photography, digital media, sculpture, or the artist’s book. This course serves as the prerequisite to 200-level studio courses. Studio.
Art 201 - Introduction to the History of ArtFull course for one semester. Basic art historical methods and examples of recent scholarship are examined in relationship to a chronologically, geographically, or thematically defined body of art. Credit may not be earned for this course if it is taken after passing a 300-level art history course. Lecture-conference.
Art 262 - The FigureFull course for one semester. The tradition of Western academic figure drawing began in the Renaissance. The academies of the past, reflecting the official artistic cultures of their time, considered the figure to be central to their artistic training. Each academy represented a different ideal and featured its own style of presentation. The tradition of Western figure drawing centers on the body's response to gravity, volume, and weight within a solid floor plane seen in perspective. The traditional methods of rendering the human body from the Renaissance to the 18th century will be introduced. Students will practice gesture drawing and proportion studies, and will focus on the anatomical structure. We will investigate tonal rendering of the body with various materials, modern and postmodern composition, expressionistic representation, and abstraction. Students will sculpt the figure using fired clay to investigate the body in three dimensions and explore the concept of fragmentation and abstraction. Contemporary issues of body language and gender will be explored in a final project. Slides and readings will expose students to the range of traditional and contemporary figurative works. Prerequisite: Art 161. Studio.
Art 264 - Intaglio PrintmakingFull course for one semester. This explores the technical, formal, and conceptual aspects of printmaking through such thematic assignments as organic/inorganic, interior/exterior spaces, self-representation, appropriation, relationships of images and words, and a final project involving narrative (representation of extended time and expanded space). Intaglio printmaking includes drypoint, etching, sugarlift, aquatint, and multiple color processes. Additional work will include printing an edition of an image for exchange with class members, and studying master and contemporary prints in the Reed and other local collections. This course is offered in alternate years. Prerequisite: Art 161. Studio.
Art 265 - Relief PrintmakingFull course for one semester. We explore the technical, formal, and conceptual aspects of printmaking through such thematic assignments as organic/inorganic, interior/exterior spaces, self-representation, appropriation, relationships of images and words, and a final project involving narrative (representation of extended time and expanded space). Relief printmaking includes woodcut, linocut, stencil, collagraph, multiple and subtractive block chiaroscuro, and multiple color printing. Additional work will include printing an edition of an image for exchange with class members, and studying master and contemporary prints in the Reed and other local collections. Prerequisite: Art 161. Studio. This course is offered in alternate years. Not offered 2009–10.
Art 271 - Painting IFull course for one semester. The class explores color structure, interaction, and illusions (transparency, luminosity, atmosphere), through abstraction and various compositional strategies. Major projects involve creating a “shape alphabet” and a series of variations on it; paintings in which there is a close correspondence, or a tension, between image and support; paintings that focus on process and nontraditional techniques; and an independent final project that builds upon previous work in the class. Weekly slide lectures focus on color and composition in representational and abstract painting. Prerequisite: Art 161. Studio.
Art 272 - Painting IIFull course for one semester. The class extends many of the color relationships and compositional models from Art 271 to an exploration of different styles of representation and genres, including still life, interior and landscape spaces, portraiture and self-portraiture, and narrative painting. Weekly slide lectures focus on how different artists have explored these genres over their careers. A sketchbook of compositional and color studies of historical and modern paintings is also required. Although Art 271 and 272 are conceived as a yearlong introduction to painting, with a progressive sequence of projects, Art 272 may, with consent of the instructor, be entered at midyear. Prerequisite: Art 161 and Art 271. Studio.
Art 281 - Sculpture I: The Language of Structure and ScaleFull course for one semester. This introductory course introduces the structural principles and communicative possibilities of materials and their formal three-dimensional relationships. Development of the student’s ability to apply formal visual principles such as scale, weight, and mass is emphasized. Each project addresses one of the three scales of sculpture: the architectural, into which the body fits; the human, to which the body relates; and the intimate, which relates to the hand or head. We will study the fundamentals of wood fabrication including joinery and lamination, plaster molding, and metal fabrication. Throughout the course slide lectures and readings on the work of artists and architects will demonstrate how they have addressed these problems in the past. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Studio.
Art 282 - Sculpture II: From the Figure to the MachineFull course for one semester. Until the 20th century, representations of the human figure were central to the history of sculpture. In modern and contemporary art, the scale of sculpture is in direct reference to our bodies. Current subjects of art are our bodily functions, aspects of our anatomy, and ideas about the temporal nature of our bodies. In this course students will begin with an investigation of the mechanics of the skeletal and musculature structure in a welded and riveted metal form. The second work focuses on transformation of functional objects made for our bodies; students will reorient the viewer’s understanding of an object, or invent the next generation of an object. Recycled products such as furnishings or home equipment may be used along with welded structures. The final work will focus on sculpture in the expanded field of landscape and architecture. Readings and discussions on figurative sculpture, Dada, Fluxus, contemporary architecture, and contemporary artists’ works will be covered. There will be focus on metal fabrication and welding, and sewing and fabric construction. Prerequisite: Art 281 or consent of the instructor. Studio.
Art 290 - Contemporary Art Photography IFull course for one semester. This course introduces students to the fundamentals of black and white photographic processes and investigates the use of photography in the context of contemporary art. The class will cover camera operation, principles of exposure, basic understanding of light, film development, and darkroom printing. Technical, aesthetic, and conceptual possibilities of photography are explored through shooting assignments, readings, slide presentations, lab work, and critiques. Students will learn to respond to assignments with technical competence and critical clarity. Prerequisite: Art 161. Conference.
Art 291 - Contemporary Art Photography IIFull course for one semester. The course will introduce color, larger scale printing, fiber-based printing, and medium format materials. With elementary skills and historical context in place, the class will focus on manifestations of the photographic image as an art object, both physically and conceptually. Technical, aesthetic, and conceptual possibilities of photography are explored through shooting assignments, readings, slide presentations, lab work, and critiques. Class time will be spent in lecture, slide presentations, lab work, critique, and occasional field trips. Students will be expected to respond to assignments with technical competence and critical clarity. Prerequisite: Art 290 or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Art 295 - Digital Media I – Image/Process
Full course for one semester. This course introduces students to the fundamentals of digital media. Technical and conceptual units will be presented in both a historical context and in light of contemporary arts practice. We will explore the link between art, technology, and the computer through readings, slide presentations, and class discussions. Topics will include the nature of the digital document; the relationship of digital forms to traditional hand-based media; the machine/digital aesthetic; intersecting discourses of art, new media, and the sciences. Students will learn to acquire, manipulate, and print digital images. The class will also explore the use of the computer as an autonomous art tool through programming and examine the possibility of process-based art. Students will be expected to respond to assignments with technical competence and critical clarity. Prerequisite: Art 161 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2009–10.
Art 296 - Digital Media II – Video/Interactive ArtFull course for one semester. With basic familiarity with the digital environment and possibilities for image creation and treatment, we will explore the use of the moving image and digital video as related to art. Students will be exposed to the concepts and techniques of nonlinear video editing and interactivity. We will analyze the ways in which artists employ these technologies and tools into their works through theoretical readings, class discussions, and slide presentations. Assignments will simultaneously address technical and conceptual topics such as the relationship of the real to the virtual and the analog to the digital; scale and repetition; narrative and sequence; meaning and value in the mechanically produced image; the ontological implications of indexical representation; and the dematerialization of the visual object. Class time will be spent in lecture, slide presentations, lab work, critique, and occasional field trips. Students will be expected to respond to assignments with technical competence and critical clarity. Although the course is designed as an extension of Art 295, students with adequate computer literacy may enroll without Art 295. Prerequisite: Art 295 or Art 161 and consent of the instructor. Conference.
Art 301 - Recent Writing about ArtOne-half course for one semester. This course is intended for, but not limited to, junior and senior majors in art and art history. This team-taught course will introduce students to innovative examples of recent art historical scholarship, spanning a broad geographical and chronological range of topics. Texts will be read with an eye to understanding the methods currently engaged within the discipline of art history and within other fields to interpret visual artifacts. The course also will offer a forum for participants to test the applicability of these interpretive strategies through presentations of their own work. Prerequisites: Art 201 and at least one 300-level course in art history or studio art. This course may be repeated for credit. Conference.
Art 304 - Reading the Roman House: Art and Myth in Domestic SpaceFull course for one semester. This course will investigate the decoration of the Roman house, with a particular focus on the representation of myth in a domestic context. We will begin by discussing the organization and function of the house in Roman society. We will then consider how mythological scenes found in such spaces could be understood in light of Roman conspicuous consumption, erudite display, gender roles, or religious practices. Mythological painting abounds in the villas of Herculaneum and Pompeii; however, the course will also include late antique examples of myth in domestic settings (such as the floor mosaics of Antioch on the Orontes, or the silver vessels found in Kaiseraugst on the Rhine). Students will give due consideration to what ancient texts (by Petronius, Vitruvius, Pholostratus, and others) might tell us about domestic decoration and the Roman viewer, and what modern interpreters (such as Bryson, Elsner, and Bergmann) might have to contribute to our understanding. Prerequisite: Art 201 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2009–10.
Art 310 - Art of the Italian Renaissance CourtsFull course for one semester. This course examines the art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance courts during the late medieval and early modern periods. Concentrating primarily on the dynastic centers of Milan, Mantua, Ferrara, and Urbino, the course explores the ways in which Renaissance art operated in the service of the court as a powerful tool of statecraft. We will consider the union of art and politics by examining the patronage of the secular princes, while also analyzing how the visual identity of the state intersected with representations of gender and religious difference in the Italian Renaissance city-states. The course will provide new insights into the famous masterworks by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea Mantegna and place their work within a larger discourse that incorporates less well-known local art by painters including Cosimo Tura and Dosso Dossi. Prerequisite: Art 201 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2009–10.
Art 312 - Art Historical InterpretationFull course for one semester. A consideration of the ways in which individual works of art and art in general have been understood. This course will examine the historical interpretation of art from its beginnings (Vasari and Wincklemann) through the foundations of modern art history (Panofsky, Wölfflin, Riegl) to the present day (Baxandall, Fried, Bryson). Special attention will be paid to approaches outside of the mainstream of art history (Freudian psychoanalysis and Marxism) and to the methods of interpretation developed in art history's sister disciplines (literary criticism and history). Theoretical problems will be tested against important and controversial works of art such as the Arch of Constantine, Velazquez's Las Meninas, Poussin's Et in Arcadia Ego, the paintings of Gustave Courbet, and Manet's Olympia. Prerequisite: Art 201 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2009–10.
Art 313 - Art and Life in Renaissance FlorenceFull course for one semester. In Lives of the Artists Giorgio Vasari describes how “the arts were born anew” in Renaissance Florence. The city’s streets and piazzas, palaces and churches, paintings and sculptures all give visual form to the cultural and social changes that affected Florentine life. In its study of artists such as Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Leonardo, and Michelangelo, this course concentrates on the 15th and 16th centuries as a period of innovation, in terms of both artistic theory and practice. Through an examination of Florence’s public, ecclesiastical, and domestic spaces, we will consider how visual and material culture served as markers of civic identity and social distinction. Prerequisite: Art 201 or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference.
Art 315 - From Manuscript to Printed PageFull course for one semester. This course will examine book production from late medieval manuscripts through the rise of printing in the Early Modern period. While some attention will be paid to chronological developments, the primary focus will be thematic. Among the issues considered will be the role of collaboration and workshops, the relationship of word to image, the nature of reproduction, and the impact of technological change. Throughout we will consider the book as a complex whole in its original and modern contexts, working when possible with examples in local collections. Prerequisite: Art 201 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2009–10.
Art 319 - Late Antique, Early Christian, and Byzantine Art and ArchitectureFull course for one semester. An examination of works of art and architecture made in the Mediterranean world between c. 200 and c. 600. Major monuments considered include the Christian and Jewish buildings at Dura-Eupros, the catacombs, the monuments of Constantinian and post-Constantinian Rome, the churches of Ravenna, Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, and the icons and monastery of Mt. Sinai. Special attention is paid to placing works in their art historical, historical, and religious contexts and in understanding how art, society, and theology were not interrelated in this period. Conference. Prerequisite: Art 201 or consent of the instructor. Not offered 2009–10.
Art 320 - Iconoclasm
Full course for one semester. Iconoclasm, the purposeful destruction of images, and aniconism—the refusal to produce images—have been recurring phenomena throughout the history of Western art. Whether iconoclasm is an exclusively Western practice will be one of the subjects considered in this course. Prominent examples of iconoclasm and aniconism across time include the ancient practice of destroying the monuments of previous rulers; the prohibition on images in the Hebrew Bible; Christian iconoclasm in medieval Byzantium and in the wake of the Protestant Reformation; state-sponsored destruction of images during the French, Russian, and Nazi revolutions; vandalism; and contemporary attempts to censor the visual arts. Long neglected by art historians, the study of iconoclasm is now considered central to understanding the historical function of images. By examining theories of iconoclasm and selected case studies, this course will attempt to understand the phenomenon and its importance for the study of past art; over the course of the semester each student will conduct a detailed examination of an iconoclastic incident of his or her choice. Prerequisite: Art 201 or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference. Not offered 2009–10.