Ten Great Mysteries from the History of Art

Institution: Carleton University
Category: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Language: English

Course Description

Art historians are like detectives. We search for clues to decipher what a work of art is all about—who made it, how, where, when, and why. Did a powerful patron commission it, perhaps? And how did it end up on a museum wall? Throughout the week, we will all don our detective hats and investigate some of the most enigmatic objects in the history of art. Who is Banksy? Was Picasso really an art thief? Why is Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi the most expensive artwork in the world? Using a combination of content-driven and inquiry-based learning strategies, we will search for clues both in the images themselves and the historical record, in order to understand how some such mysteries can be solved. We will explore how advanced imaging technologies allow scientists to reveal when an object was made, out of what materials, and what might be hiding underneath the surface! In addition to learning about capricious princesses and and their curious pets, trickster painters, impostor archaeologists, and sneaky thieves, we will also develop visual literacy and critical thinking skills through close looking, participatory visual analysis exercises, and creative writing activities. The course will also include a site visit to an art museum and gallery in the National Capital Region, where we will have the opportunity to discover, experience, and discuss works of art in person.