Art History and Film 58-370
Dr. Liana Cheney


Art History & Film image

Syllabus of Lectures


COURSE DESCRIPTION: Examination of issues of content, theory and criticism in traditional, modern and contemporary live of artists, autobiographies, biographies and historiographies as source of filmic expression. Focus on the interpretation and transformation of art historical records into filmic vision as revealed in set and costume design, music, camera technique and other aesthetic elements of film, as well as how such elements function to extend and convey directorial vision to movements in art history.

COURSE OUTCOMES: Students attain an understanding of the visual and historical development of the application of art to cinema. Through critical readings and writings, they are able to analyze the fundamental assumptions of art and cinema as a medium of and setting for a specific ideology. Students gain in-depth knowledge through analysis of specific case studies.

-A. Dalle Vacche, Cinema and Painting. Austin: University of Texas Press,1997.
-D. Andrew, Concepts in Film Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984,
-J. Aumont, ed. Aesthetics of Film. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999.
-Dr. L. Cheney's Handbook on Art History and Film (series of essays provided in class)
-Dr. L. Cheney's List of Digitized Videos (provided in class).

WEBSITES: See the Art History website "links" section for museums throughout the world. For Art History and Film digitized videos, see

CLASS COMPORTMENT: Since this is a professional presentation at the university level, students are not permitted to eat, drink and use cellular phone during class lectures and discussion. Students are not permitted to tape the lectures. Disable students must see me on the first day of class to accommodate their individual needs.

EXAMINATION: There will be two take home examination (October 9 and November 14), an oral presentation and final paper based on your oral presentation (December 4-11). In addition there will be film/video reports based the required assignments. Examination misses without prior excuse from the instructor or excuse for medical or other emergencies cannot be made up. No voice mail, email or fax will be acceptable.

VISUAL AND WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT: In order to familiarize yourself with the connection between art history and film, you will complete the Art History and Film Report after seeing the digitized video. Part of the digitized videos will be seen in class and other times you will be responsible for viewing the assigned video on your own. At all times your are responsible for viewing the digitized videos for the course. After careful study of the aesthetic principles of art history and film, you will write one page commentary for each digitized video. See Art History and Film Report - Instruction Format.

WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT: All assignments are due a week after viewing the video. All late papers will be penalized or not accepted constituting course failure. Each commentary should be approximately of one page long (250 words per page), double-spaced and typed. The written assignment will be graded on form as well as content so that spelling, punctuation, grammar, and syntax are to be considered with some care. Make sure that you keep a copy of every written assignment.

GUIDELINES FOR WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT: All written material presented for evaluation should follow these guidelines.

Content: You must have an introduction, stating the purpose of your paper, a development explaining thesis of your project and a conclusion, a summary of your findings. Always include information that you have learned from the lectures or the assigned readings. If sources are consulted (books and articles) make sure they date post 1975 with the exception of encyclopedias. You must credit the sources you use in a footnote or endnote. Although you may read survey texts, such as those of Janson, Hartt, or Gardner; however, these do not count among the acceptable sources for research for this art history course at the 300 level. You may consult The Encyclopedia of World Art and The Oxford Companion to Art and other pertinent encyclopedia of science and technology at the Reserve Section of the O'Leary Library/South Campus; however; these do not count among the acceptable sources. The Art Index (an annual index of periodical literature on art) is very helpful source for books and articles in art history. In addition, you may be assisted by internet and websites information; however, be aware of always recording and listing the source of your citation with name of the author, title of the article and date. Downloading information from the internet without proper citation constitutes plagiarism Bibliographical references must be included to demonstrate the sources you have consulted. Illustrations should follow the bibliography. In your paper define the limits of the topic you are considering, clarify the issues surrounding the topic with respect to the relationship between art and culture, comment on the scholarly problems involved, and offer some original incite into the topic. Be sure to see and read critically. You will find little agreement among various authors.

Format: The computerized typing must be as follow: accepted fonts Arial, New York, Geneva, Courier, Palatino, Times, Times Roman and Bookman; only 12 points in character. A computerized page contains approximately 200 to 250 words, less than this is not acceptable. Papers written in any other format is not acceptable. All pages must be numbered.

FILM/VIDEO REPORT: The film/videos for this course have been digitized and can be located at Due to the class time constraint only partial viewing and analysis of the film/video is possible; therefore, your are responsible to complete viewing and studying the film/video on your own time. Since the film/videos are digitized, you will have access to them at any time. For each film/video seen in class or assigned, you are required to write a written critical analysis based on the reading assignments and the viewing of the film/video (see Film/Video Report Instructions). Always make a copy of your film/video reports for your files.

NOTE ON PLAGIARISM: Be careful never to copy directly or directly adapt from another author without crediting the source. General sources must be listed in a bibliography; any indirect or direct quotation or paraphrase must be footnoted. Any unacknowledged copying will receive an F (failure) for the course. Student will be subject to academic suspension from the university.

ORAL PRESENTATION: On November 27 notify me of your oral presentation assignment topic. The presentations are scheduled for December 4-11. During the course further information and guidelines will be given regarding the structure of the oral format. Honors students are encouraged to participate in this learning activity. See Instruction Format.

HANDOUTS: A series of xeroxed materials will be given out throughout the course in order to help you with your reading assignments.

EVALUATIONS: The take home exams will count 30% of your final semester grade. The art and film paper connected with the oral presentation and the oral presentation will count 30% of your final semester grade. And the art and film reports will count 40% of your final semester grade.

MUSEUM VISITS: Students are individually responsible for visiting, in particular, the Fogg Art Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Art Museum, the Worcester Art Museum, Museum of Science in Boston, and the museums and historic houses in Lowell and surrounding area. The Art History Club provides 4 free tickets to be used over and over during the semester at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

OPTIONAL MUSEUM VISITS: Probably during the semester the Art History Club will sponsor some field trips to the Boston Museum. Also, there will be scheduled one or two trips to New York City, Worcester, Hartford, New Haven (CT) in order to visit some major exhibitions or museums. You will not be penalized for not participating in these trips.

FILM/VIDEOS CENTERS: You are responsible to seek and attend Film Centers or Film Festivals related to art historical themes, such as the Harvard Film Center at Carpenter Center in Cambridge.

OFFICE HOURS: Tuesday and Thursday between 5:00-7:00 P.M. Also, other times by appointment. My office is in Coburn Hall, Room 201.

EMAIL FORMAT: When sending me an email, kindly use as subject the following structure:

GREETING: Start your message with Dear or Hello Dr. Cheney 
MESSAGE: write your message
SIGN OFF: with your name.

(N.B. Subject to change with a week of prior notice. Students are responsible for all content presented in class and assigned readings.)

Oct 9 - Take Home Exam I (Instructions provided separately)
Oct 13 - New York Field Trip (Saturday). Optional
Nov 14 - Take Home Exam II. (Same format as Exam I)
Nov. 20 - Notify me of your brief paper topic.
Dec 4-11 Oral Presentations
Dec 11 - Paper Due
Dec. 10 - Art History Symposium: Cinema and Painting (attendance mandatory)

(N.B. Syllabus information subject to change without prior notice)

Week 1: September 4-6: Introduction: Art History and Film
-Why Art History is used in filmmaking?
-Why study the connection between art history and film?
-What are the contributions of Art History to film making?
Erwind Panofsky, Style and Medium in the Motion Picture (handout) Ernest Lindgren, The Art of the Film (handout);  Angela Dalle Vacchi, Cinema and Painting, pp.135-60 and 1-12.
Video to see: Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev: Cinema As the Restoration of Icon Painting.

Week 3: September 11-13: Issues in Art History and Film
Aesthetics and Theory; Structures; Authorship; Genres and Representation; Reception and Adaptation; Patronage; Interpretation
Dudlely Andrew, Concepts in Film Theory, pp. 3-36; Jacques Aumont, ed. Aesthetics of Film, pp. 1-36; Michelangelo’s Life, ed. by George Bull (handout); Michelangelo’s Letters, ed. by R. Goldwater (handout, pp. 58-71);
Video to see: Renaissance and Mannerist Art (Leonardo and Michelangelo)

Week 4: September 18-20: Aesthetics
Formalism; Realism; Surrealism; Abstraction
Dudlely Andrew, Concepts in Film Theory, pp. 37-74; Jacques Aumont, ed. Aesthetics of Film, pp. 68-125;
Videos to see: Baroque Art (Caravaggio and Gentileschi)

Week 5: September 25-27: Film Theory
Descriptive; Interpretative; Adaptive; Art History Theory; Formalistic; Iconographic; Art History and Film Theory; Perception (Formalism);
Representation; Interpretation (Iconography); Valuation; Adaptation
Dudlely Andrew, Concepts in Film Theory, pp. 37-74; Jacques Aumont, ed. Aesthetics of Film, pp. 126-81; Elizabeth Gilmore Holt, ed. Rembrandt’s Life and Letters (handout)
Videos to see: Baroque Art (Rembrandt)

Week 6: October 2-4: Perception
Psychological approach; Art Historical approach; Filmic approach
Goya's Letters, ed. by R. Goldwater (handout, pp. 202-203)
Video to see: 19th Century (Goya)

October 9: Take Home Exam I; Representation
(See Examination Instructions)
Realism; Surrealism; Adaptation; Representative; Signification; Traditional View; Present View
Angela Dalle Vacchi, Cinema and Painting, pp.1-42; Dudlely Andrew, Concepts in Film Theory, pp. 75-95; Cassatt's Life and Letters (handout); Morisot's Life and Letters (handout);
Videos to see: 19th Century – Impressionism (Cassatt and Morisot)

Week 7: October 16-18: Adaptation
Definition; Theory of Adaptation; Sources of Films; Borrowing; Intersecting; Transforming; Forms of Adaptation; Literature; Music;
Art; Other Media; Adaptation in Art History - from nature, from art and artists (antiquity and present)
Dudlely Andrew, Concepts in Film Theory, pp. 96-106; Liana Cheney, Ut Pictura Kinesis: Painting as Film, Film as Painting (handout);
Van Gogh’s Letters, ed. by Mark Roskill (handout); Van Gogh’s Letters, ed. Elizabeth Gilmore Holt (handout); Van Gogh’s Letters, ed. R. Goldwater (handout, pp. 381-86); Gaugin’s Letters, ed. by Frederick O’Brien (handout); Gaugin’s Letters, ed. by Elizabeth Gilmore Holt (handout); Gaugin’s Letters, ed. by R. Goldwater (handout, pp. 368-74)
Videos to see: 19th Century - Post Impressionism (Van Gogh and Gaugin).

Week 8: October 23-25: Valuation
Text; Image; Valuation of Text
Dudlely Andrew, Concepts in Film Theory, pp. 96-106; Rodin’s Letters. ed. by R. Goldwater (handout, pp. 323-26); Claudel’s Life (handout)
Videos to see: 19th Century - Post Impressionism (Rodin and Claudel).

Week Nine: Oct. 30-Nov. 1: Genres
Narrative; Forms of Genres: Social, Moral, Educational, Interpretative. Forms of Narrative: Definition of Narrative, Documentary, Non-Documentary, Fiction, Non-Fiction
Dudlely Andrew, Concepts in Film Theory, pp. 107-132; Toulouse-Lautrec's Life (handout)
Videos to see: 19th Century - Post-Impressionism (Toulouse-Lautrec)

November 14: Take Home Exam II; Identification
(See Examination Instructions)
Definition; Theory: Psychoanalytical, Creative; Reception; Meaning
Dudlely Andrew, Concepts in Film Theory, pp. 133-156; Carrington's Life ed. by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina (handout).
Videos to see: 19th Century - Pre-Raphaelitism and Symbolism (Rossetti, Morris and Carrington)

Week 10: November 6-8: Figuration
Definition; Figures as events; Figures as symbols; Figures as conventions; Figures as non-figures
Dudlely Andrew, Concepts in Film Theory, pp. 157-171; Jacques Aumont, ed. Aesthetics of Film, pp. 68-125; Munch's Letters ed. by Elizabeth Gilmore Hunt (handout)
Videos to see: 20th Century - Symbolism Munch

Week 11: November 13-15: Interpretation
Definition; Tradition of Hermeneutics; Eclecticism; Signification: Traditional View, Present View
Dudlely Andrew, Concepts in Film Theory, pp. 172-190; Rivera's Letters, ed. by R. Goldwater (handout); Kahlo's Life (handout)
Videos to see: 20th Century - Surrealism (Rivera and Kahlo)

Week 12: November 20-22: Reception
Viewer or spectator; Maker as spectator; Writer as spectator; Film as spectator
Dudlely Andrew, Concepts in Film Theory, pp. 172-190; Jacques Aumont, ed. Aesthetics of Film, pp. 182-238; Picasso's Life (handout)
Videos to see: 20th Century - Cubism (Picasso)

Week 13: November 27-29: Film Language
Definition of the Textual Analysis of Film; Language as Sign; Visual Language; Auditorial Language
Jacques Aumont, ed. Aesthetics of Film, pp. 126-182; Pollock's Life (handout)
Videos to see: 20th Century - Action Painting/New York School (Pollock)

Week 14: December 4-6: Oral Presentations

Week 15: December 10: Art History and Film Symposium
(attendance mandatory)

December 11: Oral Presentations

Week 16: December 13: Reading Day