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Art and the History of Science

ARTH 3850

This class explores the connections between art and the history of science, using a broad span of visual material, mainly European art from the Middle Ages to the present. Coverage of the material is thematic, focusing on three major categories: Art and the Natural World; Art and the Human Body; and Art and the Human Mind. We read a wide variety of art historical articles and selected chapters that examine works of art related in the first section to astrology, astronomy and alchemy; botanical, zoological and geological illustration; and color theory, perspective, optics, maps, contemporary earthworks and ecology. In the second section, we explore the evolution of anatomic illustration, as well as mythic, religious and genre images related to medicine, pharmacy and healing as well as works by contemporary artists who are concerned with genetic codes, hybridization and cloning. In the third section, we examine depictions of human temperaments, emotions and madness through the images of selected artists.