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    Contemporary History of Photography - Spring 2024

    Another Individual

    - Registration Closed -

    Dr. Elizabeth Brown
    DAY / TIME Monday 6-9pm | March 25 - June 3, 2024*
    *NO CLASS on May 27 - Memorial Day
    TUITION $825
    Payment & Refund Policy
    Scholarship Opportunities
    FORMAT In-person, enrollment is limited to 12 students
    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.


    • Weekly attendance is vital to student success in PCNW courses. We require that students attend the first meeting in order to retain their spot in the class. A waiver may be granted if permission is given by, and subsequent arrangements made with, both the PCNW Registrar and Faculty. Please see our Education Policies for details about attendance policies and academic expectations.
    • Intermediate and advanced courses have prerequisites which students must satisfy prior to enrollment. Prerequisites may be waived based on experience or prior courses taken through other institutions. To verify that you meet the prerequisite(s) for a course, contact Jennifer Brendicke, Registrar at jbrendicke@pcnw.org.
    • Students are required to provide their own camera, unless otherwise noted in the course description. If you have questions about camera equipment or resources, contact us at pcnw@pcnw.org.
    • PCNW adheres to a strict payment, cancellation and refund policy. Please review our Payment & Refund Policies prior to registration.
    • Additional materials and supplies, not covered by a materials fee for a course, are the responsibility of the student. Detailed information about course expectations, required texts and materials will be provided at the start of the quarter.
    • Students should prepare to spend several hours per week completing assignments outside of class, which may require use of the PCNW facilities; view our Rental Rates for details about additional fees. Rental fees for use of PCNW Facilities are a separate cost from tuition.


    Image © Brian Allen