Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Art History Tours in Italy this Spring!

Hello! In 2011 I taught my first overseas art history course in Italy (ART HIST 3V03: Studies in Venetian Art & Theory). That was followed by a second version of the course in 2012 and then, in 2013, a new course on Baroque art and architecture in Rome (ART HIST 3VV3).

Now, I am introducing my own tours to Italy for the general public with Istoria Art Tours. This May and June I will be offering two tours (8 nights each) in both Tuscany and Rome. For more details please have a look at the Istoria Art Tours website at:

Istoria Art Tours

Or... 'like' us on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/istoriaarttours

For further details contact me directly at: gdavies3@cogeco.ca

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

ART HIST 1A03; Remaining Papers

I still have some unclaimed papers (assignments and test). Remaining papers will be available for pick-up at the SOTA office (TSH 114) beginning Thursday December 11.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Final Exam Format (Recap)

As noted during the final class, I am posting the format for the exam (see below). There were many opportunities for discussion in the tutorials and the final class review on Dec. 3, so I will NOT be posting further sample questions or extra comments on study strategies here.


The exam will be two hours in length. There will be three parts. Each part will have one question (so, three exam questions in total). The total allotted time for the first two parts will be sixty minutes (thirty minutes for each part). Students will need to answer the questions using full sentences. Part three will have an allotted time of sixty minutes as the question will require a longer response than parts one and two.

The value of each part will be set as follows:

PART 1: (one question) 30%
PART 2: (one question) 30%
PART 3: (one question) 40%

For each question students will be required to use examples of work from the lectures, readings and / or tutorials to illustrate their comments. For parts one and two there will be a MINIMUM requirement of two examples that must be used in each response. For part three students will need to reference a MINIMUM of three examples. ALL EXAMPLES USED IN RESPONSES MUST INCLUDE TITLE, DATE(S), ARTIST or ARCHITECT (if known) and LOCATION (place of origin).

Good luck to everyone!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Art of the Americas

Due to the weather conditions on Wednesday, Nov. 19, our lecture was cancelled. As noted in my blog post of yesterday, I am providing a short video to highlight key works and questions from the lecture. Here is the link for the video:

ART HIST 1A03: Art of the Americas (video)

I will be adding a few extra questions here (later today) to expand upon those in the video.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Lecture Cancelled for Tonight

The weather down this way (Niagara) has caused highway closures and accidents. There is an OPP advisory to stay off the roads in the region. I have decided to cancel tonight's lecture as a result. However, I will be posting a short video later this evening to provide some notes on the material we would have covered in class.


Info on ART HIST 1AA3 (Term II): Online Course

McMaster's Faculty of Humanities has posted a video to introduce the ART HIST 1AA3 (World Art & Cultural Heritage II) online course beginning next term. here is the link:

ART HIST 1AA3: World Art & Cultural Heritage II

Sunday, November 9, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Tutorials (10, 11, 12)

Last week I spent some time discussing the now-famous 'botched' restoration of the 'Ecce Homo' ('Behold the Man') fresco in Borja, Spain above). Here is a New York Times report from 2012 (when the story broke and went viral):

Despite Good Intentions, a Fresco in Spain is Ruined

As noted in lecture, the critical response to the restoration was fixated in the technical inadequacies of the work carried out by Cecilia Giménez. The value of the restoration as an act of love and devotion was thus marginalized. The Borja incident reminds us of the limits imposed upon our understanding of works when we judge them solely on the basis of aesthetics and technical execution. Accordingly, it remind us of the terms upon which we negotiate our relationship to works of art. The context we set up for understanding a given work ultimately involves a negotiation of power in which we, as viewers, are privileged.

Consider the following sculpture (Recovery, c. 1950) for instance. Look at the image for a few moments before reading the text beneath.

Now consider the following information about the work (as provided on the National Endowment for the Arts website):

Carved from the trunk of an apple tree, Recovery was sculpted by the hands of an unknown British mental patient. It has been attributed as a self-portrait as the patient's own concave chest (the result of tuberculosis) is replicated in the wooden figure. Edward Adamson, a thought-leader in art therapy for mental patients, encouraged the individual's work on the tree trunk. After a month of whittling, Recovery was born. The piece is the only identified work of the unknown creator.    

How does our relationship to this work change with this information? To what extent might our inclination to value the work aesthetically (or technically) limit our understanding of the work? If we identify it as a work of art do we, in turn, impose a set of values upon the object which do not necessarily apply? What might those values be? If this is the case does it raise ethical concerns about our treatment of the work?

In our course lectures we have looked at a variety of works from different periods and cultures and each of these have been presented in a book titled, Art History. Each work has thus been treated in the text as a work of art. Does this raise any issues for you? Are there any examples of work that seem to be poorly served by the title 'art' alone? Which ones? Why might it be problematic to designate them as works of art? 

Be prepared to share your thoughts in tutorial.