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Critical Analysis of Art Module III

Rico Franses

14 April - 8 May 2023

Mondays and Fridays

INR 7,500 Participation

INR 10,000 Participation + Writing/Final Project

6:30 PM IST - 8:30 PM IST 

Worldwide Registration Open

Online via Zoom

Download Course Poster

About the Course

Today, we live in a world that is awash with images and, in general, we take them very much for granted. They form a part of our ordinary, everyday lives, and we barely spend a second thinking about them in their specificity as pictures. But images are not part of our natural environment. At some point in time, long ago, somebody had to pick up a tool and INVENT The First Image. We must therefore also pose a foundational question to accompany that first image — Why? Why pictures? 

In pursuit of this question, we begin by examining the earliest artwork produced by humans, which is found largely in caves (Paleolithic art). Here we see the very first uses to which images are put, and the specific roles that they play within culture. We then turn to the art of peoples who are no longer nomadic, and who have settled into agriculture (Neolithic art), and finally, we examine the art of the first great literate societies in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China. 


At each of these junctions we find that art is transformed, taking on new functions, and operating in radically different ways. Each of these cultures may be said to be inventing, and then re-inventing, the image, meditating on what pictures can do and what they can be used for.


As different as the art of each of these cultures is, however, there is one feature that they all have in common. All are opposed to one of the dominant conceptions of our contemporary age, which might be called the photographic model of images – the idea that pictures simply imitate or copy reality. In all the cultures that we examine, images are always considered to be much more than passive reflections of reality. Indeed, as we will see, they play active roles in defining what “reality” is, and in constituting the world as we know it. In this respect, the modes under which images operate in earlier cultures have enormous relevance for us today. All those modes are still very much with us, lurking beneath our conceptions of the unexceptional banality of images, still functioning and still producing a host of unexpected effects. 


An understanding of these modes, in operation since the dawn of human activity, is essential for an understanding of our contemporary image-saturated culture as well. This course focuses primarily on detailed visual analysis and examines how artworks are structured in order to generate and convey their meaning. 

About the Professor

Rico Franses was for many years Founding Director of the University Art Galleries at the American University of Beirut. He has also held teaching positions at The Australian National University (Canberra), Pratt Institute (New York), and a fellowship at Harvard University. He has a BA in Philosophy (McGill University, Montreal), an MA in Art History (McGill) and a PhD in Art History (Courtauld Institute of Art, London). Among his publications are a book, Donor Portraits in Byzantine Art. On the Vicissitudes of Contact between Human and Divine (Cambridge University Press, 2018), and several articles including 'Lacan and Byzantium. In the Beginning was the Image', 'The Deleuzian Spatiality of Byzantine Art', and 'Untime in the Unconscious.  On the Dislocations of Time in Freud, Lacan, Laurie Anderson and Walid Sadek'.


Students will receive a Certificate of Completion upon successful attendance of a course or a Certificate of Completion and Letter of Evaluation if they successfully attend and complete the final assignment. Those who complete three courses (attendance and writing) in the Critical Analysis of Art over two calendar years are eligible for a BICAR Diploma in Critical Analysis of Art.

Refund Policy

We will refund your mode of payment — minus a 25% processing fee — if you choose not to take this course after the first session. Or, you can ‘roll over’ your balance to another or future BICAR course without a fee deduction.


To register, we can facilitate two modes of payment — either a direct bank transfer to our Indian account or we also have a PayPal link:

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