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The Viewer of Art in Modernity: Methodologies and Approaches to Reception

Course Description

Serving as an introduction to the sub-field of art reception, this course will equip students with a foundational, and historically-informed understanding of the viewer of art. Privileging a qualitative approach to reception, the course will lead students to understanding the viewer of art as a historically- determined and dynamic figure, rather than a static and/or universal agent. By paying attention to the shifting definitions, expectations and constructions of the viewer, students will engage with the idea of what is at stake in defining the viewer of art at a particular moment in time; in doing so, they will familiarize themselves with the processes and institutions of culture in the modern world. The course’s objective is to promote reflection on the viewer within students’ own artistic practice, as well as developing a deeper understanding of the institution of art and its intersection with modern public culture. Beginning with religious art, the course will proceed to an interdisciplinary understanding of modern art and its relationship with the viewer. Students will draw upon methods from art history, museum studies, urban studies, philosophy, sociology; in addition to relevant secondary material from these disciplines, they will also engage with artists’ manifestos and select quantitative studies. 

Learning Outcomes: 

Upon the completion of the course, students will be able to: 

  • Combine qualitative and quantitative methods to holistically understand reception
  • Examine the history of modern art, schematically, through the critical vantage point of reception 
  • Recognize artistic strategies, tropes and gestures that foreground the artist’s address to the viewer 
  • Develop a critical understanding of how art and its institutions shaped/can shape public culture 

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka