I highly, highly disagree with the other reviews. I never leave reviews but I was surprised at the others so I felt moved to defend the class. It sounds like these people below were so neurotic about getting into law school that they couldn't take a bit of feedback on their writing. You hear stories about these types all the time who end up begging their professors to give them a couple of extra points at the end of the semester because they need a perfect GPA. I respect that you have goals and that this class is a requirement that most will never return to again, however, the fact that you're applying to grad school doesn't entitle you to always get an A+ and it's a bit pathetic to expect so... ANYWAYS Professor Helprin is amazing. I only took this class for the requirement, like everyone, but it ended up being my favorite class. She's very smart and really engaging. She did an excellent job of facilitating discussions - the reason it was my favorite class is because people really participated, shared their thoughts, and I felt we discovered things together. She gives you enough information about the topics so that you understand them but she gives so much space to discuss and analyze which I thought was very refreshing. She's good at facilitating the discussions and I always felt I learned something new. The readings are interesting so I never felt it was that hard. I do enjoy art outside of class so perhaps I am biased, however, I highly recommend this course. Especially if you're in a lot of lecture classes, I found it really energizing to finally get a chance to participate and share my opinions. It's fun to do visual analysis.
Both reviewers below me are spot on, especially the third paragraph of the August 13th review. I don't usually write these, but I just randomly thought about Ms. Helprin again, cried a little, and decided to share my experience. I walked in thinking the class would be a cakewalk - standard two papers, a museum visit, a midterm, a final, and hopefully an A. I ended with a B+ and a lot of white hairs. Before the paper deadlines, I submitted drafts to Ms. Helprin and thought I made some pretty significant changes each time. Not only does she expect you to send in drafts a week in advance, but she ends up giving you extremely unhelpful, vague comments that leave you more confused than when you started. I'll admit, she did happily give paper extensions, but that would honestly just drag on the agony. Expect to spend hours of brainstorming for her ridiculously difficult comparison prompts, write incredibly well-thought-out papers, rewrite them completely with little direction, and get a grade that leaves you feeling hopeless about ever improving your ability to analyze art. Art Hum is not supposed to be this difficult. Do yourself a favor and switch out of her class.
I agree completely with the last reviewer. While I am not one of "those guys" with an above 4.0 GPA, I have taken humanities classes in the arts where the Professor tells everyone that he has never before given an A+, and I get an A+. My point is, I like to think I know a little bit about writing academic essays. For the final paper I wrote about one of my very favorite artists and pieces, and thought it was one of the very best short essays I had ever written in my time here at Columbia. But, lo and behold, what do I get: an A-. You know, I'm not someone who regularly complains about A-'s, but this just killed me. Completely unexpected and demoralizing when you are so very passionated about a subject. On top of this, "Professor" Helprin is one of those stereotypical humanities teachers who just gets so giddy when you mention the words "Power" (a la Foucault) and "Colonialism". She also doesn't mind when students basically turn to ad-hominem arguments during class conversations (e.g., someone calls someone else a "Neo-Nazi", "Fascist", "Racist"), as long as its followed by something vaguely reminiscent of a post-modern defense of Pop Art. Sometimes Columbia can be a horrible place.
Before I begin to write this review, I want to mention about my previous GPA. Yes, I am one of those guys with above 4.0 GPA. Simply avoid her with all your effort. First, I originally registered in Prof. Fucci's class but Columbia substituted Prof. Fucci to her for some reason. To be honest, her class is a very interactive. She tries to encourage everyone to participate, and tries to listen everyone's comment very carefully. But that's all. The point is, we are not paying tons of money to Columbia, to have conversation on art with a random phd student. Normally, she couldn't give any clear answer to students. Whatever the students ask, she goes "well... I don't know." ........ Her grading is super random and clearly unfair. Many people fixed their essays more than couple of times, she still refused to give an A, and she normally gives really underestimated grade for the participation as well. She tries to deducted every possible score from your grade. Once again, avoid her, especially if you are on the track for premed, law-school and MBA . She is an obstacle for your great dream.