Contemporary History of Photography - Spring 2023

Contemporary History of Photography - Spring 2023

Regular price $123.75
Dr. Elizabeth Brown
DAY / TIME Monday 6-9pm | March 27 - June 5, 2023*
*NO CLASS on May 29 - Memorial Day
Payment & Refund Policy
Scholarship Opportunities
FORMAT In-person, enrollment is limited to 12 students; review our COVID-19 Safety Protocols for information about requirements for students, faculty, and staff who will be onsite at PCNW
LEVEL Foundation
PREREQS None; recommended Photography I and/or History of Photography
CREDITS 3 – Fulfills Elective requirement for Certificate Program

This class introduces students to the astonishing range of theories, strategies, and techniques that comprise recent photo-based work.

Photographs dominate current art practice: Virtually none of the art celebrated today (even much painting and sculpture) would be possible without the invention of the camera, whereas the first century of the medium’s history was dominated by struggles to prove its validity as art.

Through museum and gallery visits, short presentations, critical texts, and extensive analysis and discussion, we will survey new critical approaches to documentary and street photography; constructed-image photographs; photography linked to Social Practice; and formalist abstraction. Significant topics include the Düsseldorf School that developed around Bernd and Hilla Becher; Conceptualism; the “Pictures Generation; Identity Politics”; photography in performance, by Beat artists, Pop artists, Body artists, and Earth Artists; and artists recuperating “primitive” photo-technologies. Although our time is short, we will consider photographic developments from around the world, including Africa; post-war Japan; and more recent art from Korea and China. Primarily studying still objects in our classroom seminars, we will also discuss installations, book production, and time-based work by major figures in the field.

About the instructor: 
Elizabeth A. Brown is an independent scholar, educator, and consultant specializing in contemporary art and the history of photography. From 2000-2011 she was Chief Curator and Director of Exhibitions; Collections at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, following positions at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, and the University Art Museum, UC Santa Barbara. She has curated over 50 exhibitions, including mid-career surveys of Kiki Smith (photographic work) and Lari Pittman (drawings), WOW (The Work of the Work), which explored how contemporary art affects the viewer; and 150 Works of Art, an innovative display of the Henry’s permanent collection. Brown earned her B.A. from the University of Michigan and M.A., M. Phil., and Ph.D. degrees, all in the history of art, from Columbia University in New York. She currently teaches at the Photographic Center Northwest, Cornish College of the Arts, and Seattle University.


  • Students should expect to spend several hours per week on assignments for this course.
  • Additional information about course expectations and required materials will be provided by the instructor at the start of the quarter.


Image © Brian Allen

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