Sura Levine, professor of art history, holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from the University of Chicago.
She is a specialist in the social history of 19th and 20th century European and American art with a particular interest in representations of class and gender in Belgian art. She has published essays and catalogue entries for museum exhibitions and scholarly journals both in the United States and Europe.
Recent essays include "Politics and the Graphic Art of the Belgian Avant-Garde," "Belgian Art Nouveau Sculpture," "Print Culture in the Age of the French Revolution," "Constantin Meunier: A Life of Labor," "Constantin Meunier's Monument to Labor at the 1909 Meunier Exhibition in Leuven," and "Pauvre Belgique: Collecting Practices and Belgian Art in and Outside of Belgium."
Writing and Speaking About Art & Architectural History: This writing-intensive course is designed for Division I and Division II students who would like to explore the methods of art history and who want an opportunity to do independent written projects in art, architectural history, and/or visual culture. In consultation with the faculty, students will be asked to develop and write increasingly advanced papers, based on objects on display in the Five Colleges, a visual or historical issue of their choosing, or to create an in-depth proposal and catalogue for a virtual exhibition in consultation with the professor. Students will be required to "workshop" their writing and they will present their projects to the class at the end of term.
The Body in Modern and Contemporary Art: The representation of the human body is central to the history of art. This course will explore this crucial subject as it has been portrayed over the past two centuries. The course begins with readings on anatomy and the shift from Jacques-Louis David's virile masculinity in the 1780s to a more androgynous and even feminized male as rendered by his followers. It then will explore the spectacle of a modern city in which prostitutes/ Venus/ femme fatales/other kinds of working women, often were favored over the domestic sphere. After examining art from the period of World War I where various assaults on traditional mimesis took place among avant-garde artists, this course will explore contemporary investigations of bodily representation, from the body sculpting projects of Orlan to identity politics and the ways that bodily representation have been developed.
Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Gauguin each hold a special place in our popular imagination and in art historical studies. While each of these artists was associated with the avant-garde in late 19th century France, their lives and imagery have been the subjects of films, and myriad exhibitions and the resulting recent critical reassessment; their imagery also can be found on mugs, calendars, and even clothing. This course will focus on these three artists, primarily as historical figures but we also will look into their present positions in visual culture. In so doing, students will gain mastery of different art historical methods, from formalism and the social historical, to the psychoanalytic, post-structuralist, feminist, and post-colonialist.
How many times has Edvard Munch's The Scream (1893) been referenced in film and/or advertising and what makes it recognizable? How do artists such as Barbara Kruger use the strategies of advertising to create high art? How else have high and low culture merged and reverberated? Why have van Gogh, Klimt, and Mondrian become source material for fashion designers, tattoo artists, and even liquor makers? Why do art historians and archeologists figure so frequently in popular novels and other non-academic media? Why are we fascinated with an object's provenance and artists who "sample" other artists? How does copyright function in a world of endless reproduction and social media? This course will examine the ways that the art historical concerns with iconography, canonicity, style and context, the cult of the artist as genius/fallen hero(ine), arts economics, and other issues underlie the ways that art, artists and art history have entered arenas outside of art history and it will examine how the study of popular and visual culture has shifted the field of art production and art history. This course satisfies the Division I Distribution Requirement.
Professor of Art History
Mail Code CS
Adele Simmons Hall 104
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002