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Next Upcoming Session:
July 10, 2024

Art and Fiction

3 Session Afternoon Course

3 sessions from June 12 to August 14, 2024
Upcoming Session:
Wednesday, July 10, 2024 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0816
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Materials for this program

The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius, 1654

A picture is not only worth a thousand words: It can sometimes inspire a whole invented world. Independent art historian Heidi Applegate explores the art and artists behind three works of historical fiction. Gain new perspectives on American art and photography of the 1930s; a previously little-known 17th-century Dutch painting; art-world theft and forgeries; collecting 20th-century paintings, and Outsider art by delving into the novels, followed by Applegate’s examination of the factual background along with the fiction. It’s a “novel” way to explore the arts.

June 12  Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (2011)

Rules of Civility opens at a MoMA exhibition of Walker Evans' photographs of the late 1930s that includes two of Tinker Grey, one of the novel's main characters.  Photographs by Evans appear throughout the story and relate to other characters in various ways. Tinker's apartment is furnished with textbook examples of International Style decorative arts, paintings by Stuart Davis, and "a rather primitive social realist painting." The work turns out to be by Tinker's belligerent brother Hank, who is introduced during a barroom debate about originality, beauty, and the relative merits of Cezanne—a conversation that resonates with the broader themes of the novel.

July 10  The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2013)

This Pulitzer Prize–winning novel made the 17th-century Dutch artist Carel Fabritius famous and helped break attendance records at the Frick, where the titular painting was serendipitously on loan when the book was published. In creating a tribute to the meaning of art, Tartt explores the underworld of stolen paintings, forgeries, and how privately owned objects accrue significance and value. Applegate considers the symbolism of Fabritius' Goldfinch and the many references to American and European paintings throughout the novel, as well as Tartt's comparison of characters and settings to works of art.

August 14  The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz (2022)

In the 1970s while still in college, Salo Oppenheimer gains access to his trust fund and buys a painting by Cy Twombly. He soon adds works by Richard Diebenkorn, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Agnes Martin, Ed Ruscha, Brice Marden, and Francis Bacon and acquires a Brooklyn warehouse to store his collection. Salo's deep attachment to the art he buys is in stark contrast to his appreciation for his family's Old Master paintings—or for his own children, the last of whom helps solve the mystery of what happened to a cache of drawings by the "outsider" artist Achilles Rizzoli.

3 sessions

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit*

General Information

*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.