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Arts in Paris

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Enrollment is usually limited to 10 students per class in art history courses and to 8 or 9 students in studio art classes. Typically, students enroll in five courses, including an intensive language course that meets three days a week for at least 90 hours per semester.

Art courses are offered for beginners and advanced students. Courses at the 200-level are designed to give participants a solid grasp of an area within the field of study, while 300-level courses address the more specialized needs of students in their major fields.

  • Art History

  • Art history courses meet for one to two hours one day a week in the classroom, plus two to three hours at various sites around the city (museums, monuments, etc.), and carry three credit hours.
  • Medieval Art and Architecture

    A historical review of art and architecture in France between the end of the 10th century and the 13th century. Topics may include: the principal examples of manuscript illustrations, painting, sculpture of the period; the role of the church, patronage and the place of the artist; abbeys and churches, the pilgrimages, exterior and interior church decoration; philosophies and theories of medieval style, techniques and design, and iconography. Weekly visits to the Louvre and the Cluny museum, and churches and abbeys studied.
  • Baroque and Rococo

    A survey of the art and architecture in 17th and 18th century France, including the most prominent painters and architects. Topics of study and discussion: the social, political, and religious history of the period; painters and patrons; images and portraits of power; the relation of the baroque to classicism and modernism; concepts and problems of the period as style, iconography and philosophy. Numerous visits to the Louvre and other museums and sites; extended project on the Palace of Versailles as conjuncture of art, architecture, history and religion.
  • French Gardens in and around Paris

    This course aims at tracing the development of the art and architecture of French gardens from medieval times to the present. Students discover the ideology central to French gardens styles, as well as the social and political histories behind major French garden designs. Visits to the parks of Saint Germain en Laye, Vaux le Vicomte, Versailles, Luxembourg, Monceau, Auteuil, Tuileries, Buttes-Chaumont, Giverny, Villette, and Albert Kahn gardens.
  • Introduction to the Louvre

    The aim of the course is to show how to look at art as opposed to reproductions in a museum environment. Using the Louvre as a classroom, students study the collection in a chronological order and examine techniques of presentation. They reflect on the reasons why some works turn into myths (Mona Lisa among others), and examine the social and cultural backdrop of the works studied.
  • History of Impressionism

    A survey of the art and architecture of late nineteenth century France, including painting, sculpture, drawings and caricatures from Courbet to the Post-Impressionists. Topics studied include: the relation of art to transformations in urban space; art and leisure (parks and gardens, café-théâtres); politics and social change; city and country; exhibitions, museums, the Academy, patronage; the social place of the artist, gender, modernism and the avant-garde; art and photography. Weekly visits to the Orsay museum, the Louvre, the Marmottan and other such collections. Trips outside Paris will include the Monet gardens at Giverny and the Barbizon school at Fontainebleau.
  • Contemporary Art in France

    Students explore the contemporary art scene in Paris by focusing on two areas: the work of the artists and the art venues for a better understanding of the trade. The course consists of a solid presentation of a wide range of works by individual artists situated in the context of the major trends of the century, and an overview of the distribution system of the visual arts in France: galleries, museums, art schools, exhibit halls. Students are encouraged to present their portfolio to a few galleries to get a first hand experience of the complex and often frustrating distribution process.
  • History of Photography

    Tracing the history of photography from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, the course attempts to explain how the various discourses of art history, aesthetics, art institutions and museums have served to construct the specific domain of fine arts photography. Each class will focus on a specific photographer, genre, theme or problem; working through the image to understand the multiple ways and contexts in which photographs are produced and perceived. The class will visit various museums and galleries in and around Paris, as well as the studios of professional photographers working in Paris.
  • French Fashion: Past and Present

    Students examine the historical, commercial and creative factors that have shaped the French fashion industry since the eighteenth century, in order to understand how it has maintained its position as the most important fashion center in the world today. We will look into dress and identity, politics and dress, as well as the creative process and fashion rivalry. The classes will take full advantage of its Paris location, with guided visits to historical areas such as the Palais Royal, and examining the history of textiles and dress from paintings in museums such as the Orsay Museum.
  • Studio Art

  • Studio courses meet three to four hours once a week, but require at least as much time for unsupervised work and earn four credit hours. A materials fee is assessed for these courses.
  • Ceramic Vessel Tradition I & II

    Use of clay and glaze, wheel-throwing and hand-building techniques, low and high-fire clays. Special attention is given to the relationship between the potter, his/her tools and the clay.
  • Ceramic Sculpture I & II

    Much time is spent on exploring the relationship between textures and shapes, expression and representation. Class emphasis is on creating highly personalized works.

    Each of these courses is offered at two levels: level 1 for beginners and level 2 for more advanced students. Advanced students spend more time on glaze preparation and application and on firing techniques.
  • Drawing the Figure

    Students will develop composition techniques based on the figure, by experimenting with various possibilities. Using simple blocking processes with wash, collage and line, they will integrate their sketches into complex tableaux. Constant reference will be made to modern and classical masters to gain an understanding of the abstract and figurative elements in good composition.
  • Mask-making
  • Raw Materials and Techniques in Painting

    An introduction to the major techniques in painting, based on the "touch and try method" developed by Nicolas Wacker, artist and restorer, for the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Special attention will be given to the use of natural pigments and binders on various supports (wood, cardboard, canvas, etc.). Students will experiment with pure pigments, wax medium, water-based glue, oil and acrylic. As an application of the techniques studied, students will work on a copy of a masterpiece in the Louvre, both in the studio and in supervised copy sessions at the Louvre. Requirements: one course in drawing and painting, some talent and high motivation.
  • Painting Portraits

    Students will discover why this ancient tradition is re-appearing in our age of high-tech imagery. They will improve their drawing and painting skills while learning to paint the head in a complete composition, using gouache. Much emphasis is placed on proportion, perspective, volume and movement, composition in light and dark, transition in foreground and background of the figure in space.
  • Print-making
  • Photography

    Bring your own camera for this course where students review the basic techniques in picture-taking, film-developing, negative-printing and mounting. Strong emphasis is placed on camera skills and image content, darkroom techniques and basic processes, for personal expression both in the studio and outdoors. A semi-automatic camera (with manual control of shutter speed and exposure) is required.
  • Sculpture

    Because of its easy handling, clay is the ideal support for the beginner as well as the confirmed sculptor. This course encourages creation and personal expression while focusing on the study of volumes. Various techniques are progressively taught using both clay and plaster. Advanced students can create plaster sculptures and learn the basics of mold making.
  • Fashion Illustration
  • Tapestry
  • Trompe-l'oeil

    An initiation to painting techniques applied to trompe-l'oeil, by imitating various materials: wood, marble, patina, moldings, ornaments, draperies, etc. Open to beginners as well as confirmed painters and designers.
  • Performing Arts

  • Theater - Acting

    • Acting for the stage, for intermediate and beginning actors and directors.
    • Acting for the camera, for actors wishing to learn the basics of acting before the camera.
    • Master Class, an advanced scene class for actors, writers and directors.
    • Dance

    • All dance courses are offered at the intermediate and advanced level. They are taught by instructors who have been trained in the most prestigious dance schools and have performed in renowned companies.
    • Course selection includes:

      • Ballet (including pointe) with instructors trained at the Paris Opera.
      • Modern ballet with a former member of the Ballet du XXème siècle Maurice Béjart.
      • Modern - contenporary dance: with focus on Graham's, Limon's, or Cunningham's methods
      • Jazz - Modern'Jazz : with an instructor trained by Peter Goss
      • Hip Hop - street Jazz
      • Dance from around the world: Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, India.
    • Mime

    • Mime Courses are offered at the introductory and intermediate levels.
    • Music

    • Piano Jazz
    • History of Jazz
    • Voice
    • Choral

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    Photos courtesy of Kali Vermès

    Professor Amy J. Staples - Director of Arts in Paris
    Wells College 170 Main Street Aurora, NY 13026
    Office: 315-364-3258 | Secretary: 315-364-3288 | Fax: 315-364-3257