ARTHIST 114/114G : Understanding Art: Leonardo to Dali


2023 Semester One (1233) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Is seeing learned? Can an image be read in the same way as a text? Understanding images is central to everyday life. Visual literacy is fundamental to all disciplines. This course provides students with tools for making sense of various kinds of images and objects: photographs, advertisements, paintings, film, television, comics, cartoons, monuments, buildings, maps, landscape, digital and internet images.

Course Overview

The course examines the life and work of major Renaissance artists such as Leonardo and Michelangelo, followed by the Baroque master of light and dark, Caravaggio, and the artists of the Dutch Golden Age, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. We then move on to the charming Rococo of France in the eighteenth century, and later, to the more restrained Neoclassicism of David, contrasting with the spectacular Romanticism of Goya, Gericault, Turner, and Delacroix.

In modern society, we examine new subject material and approaches through the work of the Pre-Raphaelites in Britain. In France, Courbet and Manet were painting the modern city. Monet, Degas, and Renoir succeeded them with an Impressionist artistic vision, while the Post-Impressionists van Gogh, Seurat, Matisse and Picasso revolutionised artistic techniques. Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp introduce us to the world of dada and the surreal and Mondrian and Kandinsky to abstraction in Europe. Despite the course title, 'Leonardo to Dali,' through popular demand, we have extended the range of the course with Pollock and Rothko's abstraction and Warhol and Pop art in America.

A high level of visual literacy is increasingly necessary today to navigate our way through the world of images. Artworks are studied in terms of their structural, formal, thematic, and iconographic (symbolic) features and placed in their particular cultural and historical contexts. The course provides invaluable skills in acquiring an eye for detail and the technical vocabulary to interpret the history of ideas that are fundamental to all disciplines.

Course Requirements

Restriction: ARTHIST 109

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Arts

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Explain and apply elements of visual analysis to works of art, including painting and sculpture (Capability 1.1)
  2. Develop and write text which displays knowledge of art historical styles and contexts (Capability 4.1)
  3. Identify and analyse perspectives and critical commentary on the visual arts (Capability 2.1)
  4. Communicate measured arguments and interpretations of the visual arts (Capability 5.1)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Essay 20% Individual Coursework
Essay 30% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 50% Individual Examination

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 24 hours of lectures, 10 x 1 hour tutorials, 36 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 40 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities including tutorials to complete components of the course.

Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities, that is, the tutorials will not be available as recordings.

The course will not include live online events.

The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

The SET evaluations for 2022 were very high in this course, higher than the School, Faculty and University averages.

For 2023, we will work with students to ensure they can navigate the Canvas Reading Lists better and explaining referencing styles.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Well-being always comes first
We all go through tough times during the semester, or see our friends struggling. There is lots of help out there - for more information, look at this Canvas page, which has links to various support services in the University and the wider community.

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 15/10/2022 02:07 p.m.