ART 150 First Year Seminar: Blasphemy and Devotion: Religion and Spirituality in the Works of Van Gogh, Warhol, Kahlo, and other Modern and Contemporary Artists (3 credits)
Modern and contemporary artists and architects have engaged the many intersections between art and religions, and unprecedented globalization has helped spur dialogs among a wide range of creeds and has called attention to artists’ (sometimes controversial) visual responses to religion worldwide. This course will consider debates raised in recent exhibitions and scholarly texts. Although some emphasis will be placed on the relationship between art and Catholicism, students also will analyze creative responses to many faiths, including other forms of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddism, and Islam. Through close readings of scholarly texts, class discussions, papers, and trips to area cultural and religious institutions, we will explore the work of artists and architects working in a variety of media internationally. By focusing on a representative selection of works of art and architecture, we will examine such topics as iconography, censorship, blasphemy, visual interpretations of sacred texts, and the sublime. As art history is a fundamentally interdisciplinary field, this course will help prepare students for a wide range of majors, prompting them to adopt an inquisitive, critical, and global approach toward the various topics they encounter during their years at St. Joseph’s University and afterwards. With a focus on developing writing, research, and critical skills, this course aims to broaden students’ understanding of art – both past and present – the many beliefs and world views that have informed artists’ works from the late nineteenth century to today.