BLS 346: The Art of Life & Vice Versa

This course draws its title and inspiration from The Accidental Masterpiece: The Art of Life and Vice Versa, a volume of essays by The New York Timesart critic and columnist Michael Kimmelman. The book’s central premise is that “art provides us with clues about how to live our own lives more fully.” Kimmelman frames his most memorable explorations of art and artists within semi-autobiographical essays, which illuminate the significance of individual perception to experiencing the world of, and the world as art.

Art, in this course, is defined in a broad sense to incorporate the visual, performing, and interactive arts, and everyday culture. Through Kimmelman’s and other writers’ creative and personal meditations on art, and by tapping into our own, we will explore the relationships between art and human values, ideas, and emotions.

A theme of getting lost or losing oneself in the creative process, or in a state of identity transformation, emerges across course subject matter. Such loss catalyzes discovery, insight, creative production, and indeed, often “accidental” (unexpected and fortuitous) masterpieces. This course will expand your definitions of and require your participation in the art of life and life of art. You will document your creative, intellectual, physical, and perhaps emotional journeys, and by the end of the course, you will conceptualize and produce your own “accidental masterpiece.”


  • Kimmelman, Michael. The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa. Penguin, 2006. ISBN 0143037331
  • Solnit, Rebecca. A Field Guide to Getting Lost. Viking, 2005. ISBN 9780670034215
  • Grizzly Man. Dir. Werner Herzog. Lions Gate Films, 2005. UPC 031398186366