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World Art




Admissions requirements

What is Culture or Art of Reading, or permission of instructor.


Art is of all times and places: it is a universal human feature, a worldwide phenomenon reaching back to a distant past. The earliest artistic expressions date back more than a 100.000 years ago and all contemporary societies produce visual art. In this enormous timespan and across the world, human cultures have produced paintings, sculptures, drawings, and at present times photography, video, film, performances, installation art, to give visible and material form to their ideas, dreams, fears, or desires. How can be best study this phenomenon? This will be the central question of this course. We do not aim to give an overview of art of the world, this is neither possible nor desirable, but the focus will be on the various approaches to the study of art as a worldwide occurrence. Three central research themes will be elaborated: the origin of art, intercultural comparison and interculturality, that is, the cross-exchanges between cultures. Moreover, contemporary art will be explored as a way to study art globally and to grasp how contemporary art relates, on the one hand to tradition, to traditional techniques and specific cultural traits, and on the other to international art and the international artworld. Another aspect will be on how art acts on it viewer, how its agency works. Throughout this course an important question will be how we can accomplish a cross-cultural interpretation, while being aware of our own cultural and educational background and perspective.

Course objectives

  • Students will be able to grasp and identify the richness, varieties and development of art across the world, as a panhuman phenomenon.

  • To gain insight into the main approches of world art studies and ways of accessing art globally.

  • To gain insight ito the dynamic processes of artistic exchanges between cultrual contexts.

  • To become acquainted with the main sources and handbooks on world art studies.

  • To become aware of one’s own (biased) perspective and how to deal with that


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

Seminars with presentations and discussions of the texts, critical perspectives, and art works.
Glossary of key concepts to be put on BlackBoard. Excursion to a museum.


  • Presentation & class participation (20 %)

  • Building up a glossary of key-concepts (20%)

  • A 800 words close-analysis of a work of art in a Leiden or The Hague collection (20%), using the glossary to be realized by the participants

  • A 2.000 final words paper (40 %) on the basis of a research question, and (theoretical) texts.

Compensation: all parts need to have a grade superior to C-.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Core literature:
Kitty Zijlmans and Wilfried van Damme (Eds.), World Art Studies. Exploring Concepts and Approaches. Amsterdam: Valiz 2008 isbn 978-90-78088-22-6

For further reading/exploration:
Eric Venbrux, Pamela Sheffield Rosi, Robert L. Welsch (Eds.), Exploring World Art. Long Grove (Ill.), Waveland 2006 isbn1-57766-405-1

Marsha Meskimmon, Contemporary Art and the Cosmopolitan Imagination. Abingdon UK)/New York, Routledge 2011 isbn 978-0-415-46920-3


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact