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NYU Paris: Civilization, the Extreme West, and the Argentine Artist Léon Ferrari

Gallatin Study Away Course
IDSEM-UG 9355, 4 credits
Level: Undergraduate
Gallatin requirement: HUM, GLOBAL

NOTE: This course is the same as IDSEM-UG 1871 (Civilization, the Extreme West, and the Argentine Artist Léon Ferrari). Students who have taken IDSEM-UG 1871 will not receive credit for IDSEM-UG 9355. Course is not repeatable.


For more than half a century, artist León Ferrari (1920-2013) was at the center of Argentine (and sometimes Brazilian) art, culture, politics, and history. In 1965, his controversial sculpture entitled Western and Christian Civilization, which depicted Christ crucified on a two-meter-long model of a U.S. Vietnam-era bomber, elicited both accolades and shock. During decades of national and international tension, Ferrari's art spurred controversy for the way it critiqued linguistic and cultural convention; sexual repression; anti-Semitism, misogyny, and homophobia; military dictatorship; religion and colonialism; and Latin American megacities. At the same time, he explored paths toward liberation, the potential of mass media and the revolutionary potential of making--and not making--art. Is it any wonder that his 2004-2005 Buenos Aires retrospective was vandalized? A judge closed the show, but others mobilized in its favor, thereby demonstrating the unsettled business of culture and politics in a country one historian has called "the Extreme West." In this seminar Ferrari's career will be a springboard to examine a number of crosscutting issues, in particular cultural inheritance and global modernism; artistic, individual, and national sovereignty; censorship and vandalism; and differing notions of civilization. Such questions will lead us to look across media and disciplines toward architecture and urbanism, film and cartoons; as well as philosophy, political theory, history, and literature.

For the most up-to-date course schedule details and for information about NYU Paris, visit the NYU Paris homepage.