San Jose State University :: Faculty & Staff Web Pages: Johanna Domela Movassat's Home Page


Related Information

Main Content

ARTH 101: Introduction to the Practice of Art History

Time: Spring 2015: Mondays 3:00 - 5:45 p.m.
Location: Art Building 110
Supplemental URL:


The theme of this semester will be portraiture and how portraits reveal much more than just a view of the sitter. Although one can argue that portraiture is by its very nature an idealized form of art, the astute art historian will be able to peel back the layers (of virtual paint, so to speak) and reveal the society of the artist and his/her sitter, the society’s social mores, customs, traditions, clothing styles, societal positions, politics, artistic styles, economy, hopes and desires, to name a few. To do this we will first explore the art historian’s approach to art and design through practice in describing and analyzing various examples, through practice in looking and observing, and through a brief introduction to the methods and materials used by artists. This may include observation(s) of a working artist. This will introduce the student to the art historian’s toolkit: research and image databases, handbooks, the language and literature of art history. Second, the role of research and writing will be developed by selecting a portrait from one of the Bay Area’s art museums which will be the focus of a well researched well written paper. A library workshop will help the student hone his/her skills in this area of research. Finally, we will investigate and discuss the career possibilities of those trained as art historians. This will also involve an understanding of how art history is organized, including its various areas and fields, the role of the gallery/art museum, and the importance of travel. If we are successful in all of this, the student should have a clearer sense of where he/she is right now as an art historian, how he/she can build upon present strengths and interests, what the steps to proceed on a possible career path are, and where the resources for professional development can be found.