Art history - Self-Reflexivity in Western Art and Visual Culture

Have you ever wondered why so many images in western art seem to refer directly to themselves, to their own ‘reality’ in the world? Examples include artist’s self-portraits; the depiction of mirrors and mirror reflections in art; images-within-images (paintings that include representations of other painted or sculpted objects); artists’ signatures; frames and framing. This upper level module invites you to think about the ways images can address their own visual structure, and how these traditions in western art are carried through into the modern age with film and photography. Taking a long view from the thirteenth century to the present, the module covers the history of the self-reflexive phenomenon, and allows students to develop their own topics relating to such themes as illusionism; embedded narrative; mirrors; framing; self-portraiture; and synergies between ‘old’ and ‘new’ forms of art making. Artists and topics studied include Van Eyck; Velasquez; Mantegna; Manet; Magritte; Cindy Sherman, Federico Fellini and Luc Godard; theories of ‘meta-painting’; pictorial space and the social history of art; and ‘the self-aware image’.

Assessment: 100% coursework