Figure Drawing I (required for Painting and Sculpture Concentrations)
This course begins the process of developing the student's ability to represent the human figure in pictorial space, clearly situated on a perspective ground plane. Emphasis is placed on gaining an in-depth understanding of the body's underlying geometry and anatomical structure. A conceptual model of the figure is developed by correlating drawing from the live model with the study of Old Master drawings and diagrams that present the body as a series of interlocking volumes governed by hierarchical principles. Each session emphasizes a different body part or connective joint. Students learn about the characteristic contours of muscles and how body parts move in relation to one another and to the picture plane.
Figure Drawing II (required for all Concentrations)
This course emphasizes proportional accuracy, foreshortening, detail-mass relationships and the use of light and shadow to draw the figure as a convincing volumetric and spatial form. It integrates the conceptual geometricized model presented in Figure Drawing I (D101) with the perceptual, naturalistic concerns presented by the live model. Long poses allow the student to develop drawings that reflect a more complete realization of the human form.
Figure Drawing Intensive (required for Drawing Concentration)
This course is designed to provide students concentrating in drawing an experience ranging from thoughtful observation of the posed model, to the exploration of sculptural plastic form of casts, to self-directed compositional drawings as vigorous independent works of art. Figure Drawing Intensive addresses drawing principles related to representing and composing the figure in pictorial space, clearly situated on a foreshortened ground plane. Emphasis is placed on the body's underlying geometry and anatomical structure. Students will also draw from casts in the Academy's collection to reinforce drawing comprehension and skills. Instruction will stress the integration of the lessons from cast drawing and life drawing. As an essential part of this course, students will be engaged throughout the semester on independent work to explore and extend the forms, techniques, content and possibilities of drawing. Regular critique sessions are designed to inform and provide positive support to this self-directed work.
Figure Drawing III (required for Drawing Concentration)
The emphasis of this course is on the composition of figures in pictorial space from the imagination. Gesture studies, memory, imagination and class poses are used as sources for figures, which are developed and/or modified for formal and expressive reasons. The single figure is treated as the primary compositional element. Methods of organizing volumetrically conceived bodies in space are explored by studying the drawings of past masters. Students learn to modify existing lighting conditions, as well as to invent imaginary light sources.
Figure Drawing IV (required for Drawing Concentration)
This course offers students an opportunity to create large-scale figure drawings from the model, working half, three-quarter and life size. The course will be devoted to long-pose sessions using single and double model arrangements. Though working directly from the life model is the primary concern of the course, students will be encouraged to work creatively, incorporating memory work, invention, transformation, narrative content and composition. Research projects will involve an exploration of suitable drawing techniques and materials as well as a consideration of those problems and challenges unique to large-scale work.
Cast Drawing (required for Drawing Concentration)
Drawing from casts represents a quintessential practice within the academic curriculum. The Academy's cast collection is a treasured repository of sculptural forms from Classical Antiquity and the Renaissance. As examples of great sculptural art, the casts reward close study with insights into how reality is abstracted, simplified, clarified and translated into artistic form. In addition to careful study of the full-size casts, particular attention is directed toward heads, facial features, hands, feet and drapery. Artistic theories of light and shade are presented. Both linear and dimensional depictions of sculptural form are extensively explored.
Perspective (required for Drawing Concentration)
This course addresses theoretical and applied perspective in order to build spatial environments within artworks. Artificial perspective is applied in both one-point and two-point modes. Observational tactics of sighting are applied to on-site perspective problems, including shadows and reflections. Additionally, historical theories on perspective are addressed with a particular focus on methods of representation and visual phenomena. Students are encouraged to examine issues and methods of perspective in the context of their own pictorial concerns.
History of Drawing Technique (open elective, fall)
This is a unique course in the relationship of technique to content in drawing traditions up to the present day. Students gain both practical experience and a historical perspective on the use of materials and technique employed by draftsmen in a number of historical periods. Wet and dry media on various supports are explored in a studio format. Students prepare paper with grounds for use with metal-point, tempera, inks applied with pen and brush, both natural and fabricated chalks, and various forms of charcoal. Through readings, lectures, discussion and museum visits, the development and application of drawing technique are studied as both a reflection of and impetus for the artist's ongoing search for form and meaning.
Narrative Drawing (open elective, spring)
This course focuses on teaching students how to bring back the narrative to realist art. Through discussions and examples, the artist will explore how the narrative was used in the past and how it can be used today in dynamic ways. The drawing should depict the times we are living in without artistic dogma. The subject matter will be a figure or figures placed in a detailed environment. The artist will explain his working method and materials, which include using photography correctly and working from life.
Drawing/Painting Long Pose (open elective, spring)
This is a course in strategy. With the myriad of interrelated technical challenges in drawing or painting the human figure from direct observation, this course offers one theory: a single, grand approach (comprised of principles which themselves are open to personalized interpretation) which is intended as one of many blueprints, for weaving a host of tools in the skill set of the visual artist into a complementary result. Students will create a resilient long pose piece to accompany and articulate the lessons of the course, layering such issues into a complex conclusion. Additional work will be assigned in order to support the course content, allowing students to focus on a personal strategy through their own theoretical approaches to the themes of the course.
Painting I: Direct Painting Intensive (required for Painting Concentration)
This course examines the language and techniques of direct painting from the figure, still life and plaster casts. Students will paint using a variety of strategies derived from current and historical practice. Direct painting has been the method of choice for figurative painting in the modern era, but other techniques are encountered in the history of western art, often as foundations or reference studies for more layered development. Theoretical approaches to tonal structure and color theory will be addressed in depth. While emphasis in this course is on analytical seeing/interpreting, self-directed work plays a significant role. By providing a classroom structure for the review of independent work, the course achieves a vital dialogue between the method of direct painting and the myriad intentions of the artist.
Painting II: Indirect Painting (required for Painting Concentration)
This is a course in optical mixing of color through layering, the common painting method in pre-modern times and gaining in acceptance among contemporary artists. Students paint using underpainting (imprimatura), glazing and scumbling techniques. Through this method of episodically building up a painting, students are able to address a variety of problems in sequential fashion and indirect painting becomes a valuable resource for students' independent studio work. Projects in this course include self-directed assignments and instructed classroom figure painting.
Painting III: Synthetic Painting (required for Painting Concentration)
Building upon Painting I and II, this course addresses the problems of composing and executing multi-figure paintings. The course examines strategies for the continued development of technique and its relationship to content and image making. Issues of transposing figures to imagined or constructed spaces and general pictorial compositional development will be addressed. Lectures and demonstrations may also be given and examples of multi-figure composition throughout history will be discussed.
Painting IV (required for Painting Concentration)
The instructor presents a series of advanced problems in painting and theory. The challenges may range from a tableau vivant, requiring students to paint directly from a multi-figure setup, to a more conceptually driven work that develops from wide-ranging references. Individual criticism, group critiques and self-directed projects are crucial aspects of this studio class.
History of Painting Technique (open elective, fall/spring)
This course explores basic principles of the layered painting techniques that developed and flourished in Europe in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, and examines how varying approaches to illusion, form, color and content are intrinsic to the expressive aims of painting. While the context of the class is historical, emphasis is placed on the practical application of technique to the student's own painting. Instruction will be given in the use of toned grounds, underpainting and grisaille. Various forms of paint application will be explained and examined: alla prima, velatura, glazing, etc., with specific attention to the optical effects of paint and color perception. A variety of palettes and mediums will be examined in terms of their historical applications. Discussions of technique and its relationship to content will be strongly encouraged. Students gain practical experience as well as insight into past technical developments.
Painting Color Theory (open elective, spring)
This course will explore the mystery and magic of color interaction, and discover how to use color purposefully in your painting. The principles of "color theory" observed by Josef Albers are sometimes thought of as being modernist, but these principles were understood and employed by the old masters. Artists such as Vermeer, Hopper and Monet understood the secrets of color—how to adjust and manipulate color relationships to intensify the portrayal of light and material, to strengthen a composition, or to create spatial effects.
Painting from the Imagination (open elective, spring)
By using observation and analysis, students will explore using their visual memory as a basic for the creation of space and form. While traditionally trained artists have always utilized observation, the fully formed artist must know how to paint beyond what they see if they are to transcend the limitations of direct observation. "What is" is not always as compelling as "what can be." This class will push students to take what they know, what they see, and what they can visually codify and corral it all into the service of what has never been seen before. Working from life and observation, students will internalize the optical phenomena of the visual world in order to recreate the "system" of the thing within imaginary spatial and luminance models. Both the figure and direct observation will be used, but only as a means to document material phenomena that will be reproduced from imagination in subsequent compositions.
Painting Flesh (open elective, fall)
This painting course will examine the subtleties of flesh, exploring the variations of skin ranging from humans and other animals to fruits and vegetables. Working from life, photographs, and imagination, we will investigate a variety of options in underpaintings, glazes and color systems that will amplify texture, reflections and depth of flesh. Students will discover painting techniques to capture subtleties of color and translucency in the skin, making their subjects vibrate with life.
Painting Long Pose (open elective, spring)
The focus of this class is to develop a thinking eye through the selective pursuit of form and color. Painting from life affords the opportunity for selectivity through the observation of changes that develop from moment to moment. Students must be aware of the variety of subtle changes observed in class, from the slightest shift of the model's pose, to a change of color and tone due to a reflected light. All the variety of changes that occur informs a painting and becomes in some way a remnant of that experience. The process in representing those experiences as a unified whole is the challenge of painting. Student's perceptual skills are conceptual concerns that give meaning and allow expressive direction to painting.
Painting/Drawing at the Met (open elective, spring)
This course provides students with the unique opportunity to copy paintings directly from originals in the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This long-established practice has been crucial in the education of many of the greatest painters in history. It is interesting that so many of the most creative and original artists (Rubens, Poussin, Blake, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Picasso, Manet, Degas…) strongly believed in the value of copying.
Sculpture I: Perceptual Modeling I Intensive (required for Sculpture Concentration)
This course addresses the challenge of sculpting the human figure from observation, in combination with a systematic study of the largely invisible underlying structure of the figure. Initial instruction promotes analytical seeing and interpretation. Exploration of linear and volumetric systems of proportion supports architectonic organization in the realization of the figure through the process of modeling. As the semester progresses, students pursue independent work that combines the substance of the studio instruction with their form sensibility and ideas.
Sculpture II: Perceptual Modeling II(required for Sculpture Concentration)
This course is designed to give the student the theoretical and formal basis for subsequent independent work on a large scale. It continues the process of developing the student's perceptual abilities through direct observation of the model, and expands upon the structural material introduced in Sculpture I. During this course, students produce two figures of medium to large scale. Anatomical analysis will support the abstract content of sculptural mass and composition.
Sculpture III (required for Sculpture Concentration)
The composition of figure groups in relief and in the round is addressed in this course through classroom setups employing multiple models. The relationship between form and idea is discussed in connection with narrative, allegory, social critique and other approaches to subject matter. The analytical skills developed in Sculpture I and II are further applied to the conceptual knowledge of the figure gained from the anatomy sequence. This course provides a critical forum for addressing the various problems faced by sculpture students in the early stages of the MFA Thesis.
Sculpture IV(required for Sculpture Concentration)
This course allows great latitude for self-directed work, while also requiring the student to demonstrate an assimilation of the content of the previous sculpture sequence. At the outset of the term, the student will be asked to present a written proposal for a single project that will occupy the entire semester. Instruction will be specific to each proposal and adjusted to the needs of the individual student. Every five weeks, the instructor will discuss the work in a group critique that includes student peer review.
History of Sculpture Composition and Technique (open elective, fall)
This course employs lectures, reading and the rigorous discipline of classroom exercises to investigate several key figures in the history of Western sculpture, focusing on the relationship between technique and broader cultural issues in the associated period. Following Rudolph Wittkower's seminal thesis entitled Sculpture: Processes and Principles, class lectures will retrace different trajectories of carved and modeled figure sculpture up to the threshold of Modernism, studying the connection between methods of execution and evolving concept of form. The studio component of the course emphasizes the emergence of the clay sketch model, or maquette, as a tool for expanding the formal and iconographic vocabulary of monumental sculpture. The evolution of technique is further studied through a sequence of studio exercises in which models are posed for reference while students emulate the characteristic methodology of a specific artist or historical periods in the realization of a new sculptural composition. Collectively, the exercises promote a comparative historical analysis that elucidates the changing metaphoric content of technique itself, and provides a theoretic foundation for the student's personal segue into contemporary practice.
Sculpture Relief (open elective, spring)
The purpose of the course is to introduce students to a variety of techniques and approaches not covered in the standard curriculum such as: working with wax, the clothed figure, relief and the depiction of motion.
Artistic Anatomy: Ecorche Intensive A and B (required for Sculpture Concentration)
A505 and A506
This intensive course is primarily designed for sculpture students who are required to study Ecorche. It is also open to second year students as an elective course. The course is presented sequentially over the fall and spring semesters of the first academic year. The content of the course will begin with the development of a proportionally accurate, highly detailed representation of the complete skeleton at 36 inches. During the remainder of the fall semester muscular structures and their groupings will be modeled, in sequence, from the most inferior to the more superior. Both the fall and spring semesters will include three-hour weekly detailed lectures and hands on instruction. The spring semester will continue with the further development of the most superior muscular structures, their groupings, description of kinesthetic function and it's effect upon surface form. During the spring semester, concurrent with the final development of the structural representations presented by the Ecorche; a perceptually developed sculpture, at 36 inches, from the live model, in the same pose as the Ecorche, will be completed. This will allow the student to understand the effect of the empirically studied structure of the body, and its applications to perceived surface tension and its transference into sculptural form.
Artistic Anatomy I: Structural Anatomy(required for Painting and Drawing Concentrations)
This course provides instruction in the perceptual and conceptual means needed to construct the human figure in two or three dimensions from the model or from memory. It begins by examining the body's structure through the study of the mechanics of motion, surface form and human anatomy. The instructor emphasizes the proportions of the skeleton, the major body masses and the movement potential in the joints. Students construct simplified male and female figures in plastilene, first conceived as a series of blocks and then refined into more realistic forms.
Artistic Anatomy II: Anatomical Drawing (required for all Concentrations)
The goal of this course is to improve the student's powers of observation by providing a basic understanding of the human body's underlying structures and to delineate strategies for representing those forms two-dimensionally. Emphasis is placed on anatomy (skeletal structure, muscular origins and insertions, and surface forms) and proportion. Ample time is given to students to work directly from the model. Focus is also placed upon the variety of the human form as represented by artists both historical and contemporary.
Artistic Anatomy III: Écorché I (open elective, fall/spring, required for Anatomy Track)
This course provides a thorough analysis of human anatomy through the construction of an Écorché (an anatomical sculpture of a flayed figure). Each student begins by sculpting a skeleton out of plastilene, onto which is attached first the deep and then the superficial muscles of the body. Relying on Old Master drawings, diagrams, specially prepared dissection casts and the live model, the instructor demonstrates how the forms of the bones, muscles and tendons are transferred to the écorché.
Artistic Anatomy IV: Écorché II (open elective, fall, required for Anatomy Track)
This course offers in-depth analysis of the bones and musculature of the head, neck, arm, and hand, with frequent reference to the effect on surface form of the live model and an on-going review of proportional and mass relationships. It also includes reference to the application of this knowledge in works of art.
Comparative Anatomy(open elective, fall/spring)
This course is designed as an elective for all students interested in comparative anatomy to enlarge their repertory on the subject of Artistic Anatomy. It would be helpful if students in this course have already taken Structural Anatomy I so that they could make skeletal comparisons with animals. Students taking this class should also have a general working knowledge of the human muscular system for comparisons with animals.
Intaglio (open elective, spring)
This course expands the drawing process to explore the narrative realms and sensory rich properties of intaglio printmaking. It is augmented by regular technique demonstrations for those unfamiliar with the methods. Unlike most printmaking courses, this one focuses on the particular techniques and languages that are best suited for creating the volumes and light effects in figurative representation. The processes include, but are not limited to, line etching, engraving, drypoint and mezzotint. Students work from a live model on certain projects but are expected to complete a print or suite of prints based on a self-directed concept or theme.
Figure in Lithography (open elective, fall)
Since Alois Senefelder invented lithography more than 210 years ago, the human figure has played a major role as subject and vehicle for expression in the medium. This course addresses both basic and unique technical problems faced when working with the figure and pictorial space in lithography. Students will work from the live model on stone and aluminum plates as well as pursue a suite of self-directed prints. No printmaking experience is necessary.
Printmaking Seminar (open elective, fall)
Printmaking Seminar addresses a different theme every semester. Each student develops a suite of prints, printfolio, installation or other format of printmaking. Dialogue with ongoing thesis work is encouraged. The seminar is designed to offer a uniquely printmaking-focused forum and medium for exploring one's imagery. Consistent with the mission of the Academy, the problems of figurative representation and its application in a contemporary milieu remain at the center of printmaking seminar's criteria despite the diverse themes it addresses. Enrollment is limited to students with printmaking experience. Demonstrations and lectures are given on techniques and topics germane to the semester theme. Previous and current themes: Fall 2010 Narrative Printmaking, Spring 2011 The Paper Museum, Fall 2011 Site Specific Printmaking
Printmaking: Multi-Media (open elective, spring)
Students explore traditional and new printmaking techniques in series of related prints, unique objects, and explore their relevancy to contemporary art. The class is a seminar/workshop in which Directed research and practice in printmaking for individualized development of content and technique. Emphasis is placed on exploration and growth in the intellectual, conceptual and expressive aspects of the printmaking process.
VISUAL CULTURE COURSES
Art and Culture Seminar I and II
The "Art and Culture" seminar program offers a challenging and advanced scheme of study, which explores a range of theoretical perspectives that shape attitudes towards visual art and reflect on the human figure's enduring role. Invigorated by current research, with lectures by practicing artists/historians and critics, the two-semester program encourages students to explore conceptually and creatively the ways in which contemporary artistic practice and critical theory inter-relate. It aims to expand the students' knowledge of contemporary artistic developments as well as to deepen understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of academic discourses on visual art. The series draws upon the fields of art history, philosophy, museology, literary theory, post-colonial studies and cultural studies in addressing the critical challenges posed by artistic practice. These seminars/lectures prepare the student to engage in studio practice within a broader context and allows them to fully engage in an ongoing cultural discourse.
Art and Culture I–1860 to 1960:
The Birth of Modernism and its Aftermath. (required for all Concentrations)
Students will study the theory that surrounds critical movements of early Modernism through Minimalism and conceptual art of the 1960's. The role of representation, figuration, and abstraction within the attendant cultural arena will allow students a broad base for understanding the relationship of recent history to contemporary concerns in art.
Art and Culture II - 1960 to the present:
The Shaping of Contemporary Aesthetics and the Current State of Figurative Art.
(required for all Concentrations)
Seminar II addresses critical theory, modernist paradigms and the contemporary environment. A research paper that will be developed and graded as a component of the MFA Thesis II course is required. The paper should make a convincing argument for the MFA Thesis by citing relevant sources in philosophy, culture and artworks, and stand as a verbal study of an argument for the MFA Thesis. Individual reasoning, analysis and perceptions should inform this endeavor as they do the visual work.
Theory and Practice of Composition I (required for all Concentrations)
This course investigates historical modalities and methods of compositional construction in Western figurative art from Classicism to early Modernism. The essential topics covered are: forms of spatial construction and illusion, the relationship of content to image, and the relationship of image construction to form and compositional content in various social and historical contexts. The aim is to give students an understanding of the possibilities and strategies of compositional realization, and instruction in the application of these strategies to their own ideas through studio work and class assignments.
Theory and Practice of Composition II (required for all Concentrations)
This course begins where History of Composition and Design I ends. Beginning with the birth of Modernism, it takes students through the various strategies of representing form and content from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 21st century, covering such movements as Modernism, post-Modernism, Surrealism, Conceptual Art, Pop Art, Expressionism and Realism. Formal aspects and compositional strategies will be considered and evaluated in their social and political contexts. Relationships of past art to the development of contemporary figurative art will be addressed.
ADDITIONAL ELECTIVE COURSES
Special elective courses are offered every semester. They are taught by art-world professionals outside of the normal teaching faculty at the invitation of the Faculty Committee. The instructor is generally permitted a wide latitude in the design and implementation of the course.
Professional Practices (open elective, fall)
The Professional Practice program, which runs in the fall and spring semesters, effectively and efficiently prepares students for the practical realities of operating in the art world. The aim of the program is to develop students' awareness of career opportunities and skills for navigating the professional world. Workshop sessions expose students to the worlds of private studios, galleries, museums, higher education, grants and residencies, and related careers. Considered are: practical and legal issues of finding studio space and gallery representation; presentation, documentation, promotion and pricing of work; writing artists' statements and resumes; researching granting and residency opportunities and writing applications; researching job opportunities and writing letters of application. Students should gain an understanding of the structure of the art world and strategies for identifying and planning a career strategy.
Mixed Media Animation (open elective, spring)
This class provides an overview of the basics of stop motion animation, and explores diverse approaches to animation. Topics covered include: storyboarding, paper cut-outs and Claymation; building characters sets and armatures; lighting, camera setup, software, importing footage, timing, and editing. Developing an understanding of traditional, hands-on animation practices is very important, especially in our contemporary world where technology is so prevalent. Through an exploration of various materials—acrylics, inks, oils, additives, wire, fabrics, clay, silicone, foam and mixed media—students will create exciting combinations and discover inventive approaches to animation that will bring painting, drawing and sculpture to life—creating the illusion of movement.
Independent Study (open elective, fall/spring)
Except under specially approved circumstances, only second-year students have the option of applying for an Independent Study in the fall or spring semester. An Independent Study may only replace an elective and cannot be used to replace any required courses. An Independent Study course may only be taken once during a student's MFA studies and requires a written proposal from the student no later than the first day of classes for the semester during which the Independent Study would be conducted. The written proposal must be approved by the student's primary faculty advisor and the Faculty Committee, who determine if the student is prepared for a self-directed course of study.
The MFA Thesis is the Academy's final graduate project. It constitutes a body of work and a related research paper (please see the description under Art and Culture II) intended to showcase the MFA candidate's professionalism, mastery of skills and conceptual aptitude. The MFA Thesis aims to involve students in the professional considerations of research and making artwork intended for exhibition. Each student is expected to develop at least three resolved artworks as the MFA Thesis, or, in the case of sculpture, plans, maquettes, and a single finished piece. The Faculty Committee, in consultation with the individual student, selects one piece for exhibition in the culminating MFA Thesis exhibition. The MFA Thesis works can be executed as drawings, prints, paintings or sculpture. The body of work represents a synthesis of the various skills honed at the Academy and the student's personal vision. Pieces to be considered for the MFA Thesis exhibition must be no greater than five (5) feet in width unless written permission is requested from and granted by the Faculty Committee.
MFA Thesis Project I (required for all Concentrations)
In the first semester of the MFA Thesis, the emphasis is placed on developing individual direction through the exploration of ideas resulting in the execution of artwork. These ideas may first be outlined in maquettes, studies and compositional plans that clarify, refine and consolidate the developing work. Photographs and other material not hand-crafted by the artist may serve as valuable references but do not qualify as gradable material in this context. The MFA Thesis I works are presented in-progress during the mid-semester critique and should show significant development as coherent artworks for the end-of-semester critique.
MFA Thesis Project II (required for all Concentrations)
In this course, students continue building on the body of work and themes addressed in MFA Thesis I. In addition to completing paintings, drawings or sculpture over the semester, students are required to refine their research paper that began in the fall semester in Art and Culture II. (See paper description above.)