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Image Supremacy: On Modern Mannerism

Fall 2019
Sophomore - Senior
Class Size: 23
16 Credits per quarter
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This program will ask students to seek out the ways in which modern image-making define and defy us. Photographs in the twenty-first century hold an exceptionally strong place in the ways we see ourselves and others - yet few means of representation offer the same amount of Mannerist exaggeration as the modern photographic process. 

The program will allow students to familiarize themselves with photographic technologies such as the camera obscura, Claude glass, film and traditional darkroom processes, DSLR cameras, and more. Students will be introduced and familiarized with the lighting studio and the techniques required to stage, compose, light and manipulate objects and spaces in a tightly controlled environment.

During the tumult of the Reformation and counter-Reformation, sixteenth-century Europe's artistic traditions began to bend into strange new shapes. While the High Renaissance of Italy and Northern Europe codified a western visual language centered around formal and figurative perfection, the aftermath of a religious revolt left European artists without a center or similar set of objectives. The result of this stylistic mutation left us with a time period known as Mannerism. The images made during this nominal movement were bizarre and remain so even to modern eyes. Human bodies bend and extend into impossible forms, notions of physical space revert to a pre-Renaissance free-for-all, and everything becomes exaggerated in ways that are as disturbing as they are lascivious.

Students will read about and discuss Mannerism and its precedents in the early and High Renaissance. We will also cover nineteenth-century transitions from painting to photography and early uses of photography in (pseudo)science, markets, racial identity, pornography, portraiture and image-templates that we use to this very day. Students can expect to use a variety of methods and materials to produce work for at least four thematic projects. 

The latter half of the program will bring students to the second part of the 20th century and up to our current moment. Most importantly,students will focus on the image supremacy of September 11, 2001 and the world left in that day's wake. Students will address the image politics of violence, gender and sexuality, and race in texts, lectures and most crucially in  their own work. Students will formally and conceptually engage with the methods of distortion and exaggeration inherent in the modern process of image-making and consumption. 

The last project of the quarter will ask students to produce a small body of images predicated entirely on their own interpretation of Mannerism.


Fall 2020 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 10292
So - Sr (1 - 16): 10412

Academic details

Preparatory For

Fine Arts

Studio Photography


Maximum Enrollment
Online Learning
No Required Online Learning - No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional.
Class Standing


Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

LIB 1326 - Workshop