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ARTH 801I - Global Art Histories

EV-3.760, Concordia

Over the last decade, the terms "World Art Studies," "Global Art Histories," and "Comparative Art Histories" have become the focus of scholarship and practice for a growing number of researchers and art practitioners. In 2004, James Elkins declared the prospect of world art history as "the most pressing issue facing the discipline of art history" and in 2007, the College Art Association recognized world art as a discipline among its membership and therefore as a legitimate area of research and practice. As a concept and approach, world art studies began formally in 1992 when John Onians coined the term as the new name for his art history program at the University of East Anglia. Generally-speaking, the new broad discipline proposes to approach art from a global perspective in a way that transcends chronology and geography and to study it from all relevant disciplinary viewpoints imaginable, ranging from visual culture, cultural studies, and anthropology to neuroscience and philosophy. It explores new ways to not only account for how art and the discourses around it are increasingly global and interdisciplinary, but also put into contention the traditional Eurocentric focus on Western art-historical canons formed during colonialism and that are its legacy. In 2006, Hans Belting and Peter Weibel proposed to distinguish global art, as a new phenomenon in the contemporary art scene, from world art, in the sense of world art heritage, while acknowledging how the areas of practice, historicization, and musealization may be linked in several ways.

This seminar seeks to examine the connections between world art studies as the global and multidisciplinary examination of the visual arts, and the global turn in contemporary art and art history. What are the implications of these connections for the new "global art history"? Four areas of investigation are proposed: (1) Rethinking the Canon: world art and world art histories, key concepts and approaches. (2) Compression vs. Expression: critiques and theoretical and methodological problems. (3) Institutional Frameworks: the survey text, course, and exhibition. (4) Global Art Histories (through case studies): complicities as well as potentialities in theory and practice.

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