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Syllabus


TWENTIETH CENTURY ART LIMITED

MODERN ART



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Course Goals:

·          To give an overview of some of the major developments in 20th century art.

·         To place those developments into their historical contexts.

·         To investigate the changing ideas of art and artists in that period.

·         To introduce some of the modes of thought used by art historians.

Course Texts:

·         Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois, and Benjamin Buchloh’s Art Since 1900, volume 1 & 2 (available at the BU Bookstore)

·         Other readings will be available on the course website.

·         The following texts are excellent resources that you should consider buying:

o   Herschel B. Chipp, Theories of Modern Art:  A Source Book by Artists and Critics

o   Robert Nelson and Richard Shiff, Critical Terms for Art History

o   Kristine Stiles and Peter Selz, Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art:  A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings

 

 SYLLABUS

READINGS

IMAGES & IMAGES 2

ASSIGNMENTS

EXAMS

 

OTHER

 

 

Week 1

Sept. 8– Artists on the 20th Century Limited

Topics:

·         Course Introduction

·         Review Syllabus

·         Hour 2- Before the Modern:  Renaissance, Academies, and R(r)ealism

·         Hour 3 - History, Technology (& Art)

Readings for Discussion:

·         Charles Harrison, “Modernism,” Critical Terms for Art History, 142-155.

 

Themes:

·         Artist as keeper of tradition.

·         Artist as modern man.


 


Week 2

Sept. 16 – The Four Horsemen of the Modernist Apocalypse:  Van Gogh (Plague), Gauguin (War), Cezanne (Famine), and Seurat (Pestilence)

Topics:

·         Hour 1 – Van Gogh & Gauguin: The Irrational, an Introduction

·         Hour 2 – Seurat

o   Activity:  Color Theory at Work

·         Hour 3 – Cezanne

o   Discussion:  What’s so great about Cezanne? Or, where does passage lead?

 

Readings for Discussion: 

·         Vincent Van Gogh, “The Night Café,” Theories of Modern Art:  A Source Book by Artists and Critics, 36-7.

·         Paul Cezanne, “The Cyclinder, the Sphere, The Cone . . .,” Theories of Modern Art:  A Source Book by Artists and Critics, 18-9.

 

Background Readings: 

·         “1903,” (Foster et al 64-69)

·         Herbert Read, “The Origins of Modern Art,” A Concise History of Modern Painting, 10-31

Themes:

·         Artist as madman:  the role of artists’ biographies.

·         Artist as scientist or creator of a new system

 

Week 3

Sept. 22 – Cubism

Topics:

·         Hour 1 – Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon and other origins of Cubism

·         Hour 2 – Analytic Cubism

·         Hour 3 – Collage and Synthetic Cubism

 

Readings for Discussion: 

·         Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, “The Rise of Cubism” (Chipp 248-59)

 

Background Readings:

·         “1907,” “1911,” and “1912,” (Foster et al 78-84, 106-117)

Themes:

·         Representation at the brink:  the artist between signifier and signified.

 

Week 4

Sept. 29 – The Proliferation of “-Isms” Before WWI

Topics:

·         Short Paper Due

·         Hour 1 –  Orphism, Futurism & other Parisian Developments

·         Hour 2 – German Expressionism

·         Hour 3 – Russian Suprematism & Constructivism

Readings for Discussion: 

·         Meyer Schapiro, “On the Nature of Abstract Art,” Modern Art: 19th and 20th Centuries, 185-211

·      Marinetti et al, Futurist Manifestoes

 

Background Readings:

·          “1908,” “1909,” “1913,” “1915,”and “1921” (Foster et al 85-99, 118-124, 130-134, 174-179)

 

Themes:

·         Abstraction and its meanings.

 

Week 5

Oct. 6 – Call to Order:  Purism, De Stijl, Mondrian & Bauhaus

Topics:

·         Hour 1 – Purism

·         Hour 2 – De Stijl & Mondrian

·         Hour 3 - Bauhaus

Readings for Discussion: 

·         Le Corbusier, “Argument,” Towards a New Architecture.

·         Walter Gropius, “Principles of Bauhaus Production,” Programs and Manifestoes on 20th-century Architecture, 95-7.

·         Piet Mondrian, “Natural Reality and Abstract Reality,Theories of Modern Art:  A Source Book by Artists and Critics, 321-3

 

Background Readings:

·         “1917,” “1919,” “1923,”  and “1925a” (Foster et al 148-153, 160-167, 185-189, 196-201)

 

Themes:

·         Artist as architect of society.

 

Week 6

Oct. 13 – Dada & Surrealism

Topics:

·         Hour 1 – Duchamp

·         Hour 2 – Dada

·         Hour 3 - Surrealism

Readings for Discussion: 

·         Ann Gibson, “Avant-Garde,” Critical Terms for Art History, 156-169.

·         Marcel Duchamp, “Apropos of Readymades”

·         Marcel Duchamp, “The Case for R. Mutt”

 

Background Readings:

·         “Psychoanalysis in modernism and as method,” “1916a,” “1920,” “1922,” “1924,” “1926,”  “1927a,” and “1931” (Foster et al 15-21, 135-141, 168-173, 180-184,  190-195, 208-215, 250-254)

Themes:

·         The Avant-Garde.

 

Week 7

Oct. 20 – The 1930s

Topics:

·         Hour 1 – Quiz

·         Hour 2 – Chien Andalou and Entr’acte

·         Hour 3 – Political Art in the 1930s

Readings for Discussion: 

·         None (Good luck studying for the quiz!)

 

Background Readings:

  • “1933,” “1934a,” and “1937a” (Foster et al 255-265, 281-285)

Themes:

·         Artist as political propagandist.

 

Week 8

Oct. 27 – European Responses to WWII & Abstract Expressionism

Topics:

·         Abstract & Bibliography Due

·         Hour 1 – Europe

·         Hour 2 – Abstract Expressionism

·         Hour 3 – Jackson Pollock

Readings for Discussion: 

·         Harold Rosenberg, “The American Action Painters,” Modern Art in the USA:  Issues and Controversies of the 20th Century, 150-3.

 

Background Readings:

·         “1942a,” “1942b,” “1944b,” “1946,” “1947b,” and “1949” (Foster et al 292-301, 313-317, 337-342, 348-361)

 

Themes:

·         Artist as hero and/or anti-hero.

 

Week 9

Nov. 3 – Neo-Dada, Happenings & Pop

Topics:

·         Hour 1 – Neo-Dada & Happenings

·         Hour 2 – Pop

·         Hour 3 - Warhol

Readings for Discussion: 

·         Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”

 

Background Readings:

·         “1953,” “1956,” “1958,” “1959b,” “1960c,” “1961,”  and “1964b” (Foster et al 368-372, 385-390, 404-410, 415-420, 445-455, 486-491)

 

Themes:

·         Artist as composer of silence.

·         The artist in the world.

 

Week 10

Nov. 10 – Post-Painterly Abstraction & Minimalism

Topics:

·         Hour 1 – Clement Greenberg’s Theory of Art

·         Hour 2 – Post-Painterly Abstraction

·         Hour 3- Minimalism

Readings for Discussion: 

·         Clement Greenberg, “Modernist Painting,” Clement Greenberg:  The Collected Essays and Criticism

·         Clement Greenberg, “Towards a Newer Laocoon,” Clement Greenberg:  The Collected Essays and Criticism

·         Tony Smith, “Talking with Tony Smith:  Conversations with Samuel Wagstaff, Jr.,” Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art:  A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings, 126-8.

 

Background Readings:

·         “1951,” “1960b,” “1962c,” and “1965” (Foster et al 362-367, 439-444, 470-474, 492-495)

 

Themes:

·         Flatness and its discontents:  Greenberg and the artist.

 

 

Week 11

Nov. 17 – Conceptual Art, Process Art, Post-Minimalism

Topics:

·         Hour 1 – Process (Morris & Serra)

·         Hour 2 – Conceptual (Andre, Le Witt, Weiner)

·         Hour 3 – Post-Minimalism (Nauman & Hesse)

Readings for Discussion: 

·         Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art:  A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings, selections.

 

Background Readings:

·         “1966a,” “1966b,” “1968a,” “1968b,” “1969,” “1970,” “1971,” and “1972b” (Foster et al 496-504, 521-548, 554-559)

Themes:

·         Artist as theorist.

 

Week 12

Nov. 24 – NO CLASS (Happy Thanksgiving!)

 

Week 13

Dec. 1 – People in late 20th- century Art

Topics:

·         Paper Due

·         Hour 1 – Feminist Practice

·         Hour 2 – Performance

·         Hour 3 – Identity Art

Readings for Discussion: 

·         Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”

 

Background Readings:

·         “1973,” “1974,” and “1975” (Foster et al 560-575)

 

Themes:

·         Artist as a specific individual.

·         The “death of the artist.”

 

Week 14

Dec. 8 – Places in late 20th-century Art

Topics:

·         Hour 1 – Site Specificity

·         Hour 2 – Street Art

·         Hour 3 – Globalization, Post-Modernism & Review

Readings for Discussion: 

·         Homi K. Bhabha, “Postmodernism / Postcolonialism,” Critical Terms for Art History, 307-22.

 

Background Readings:

·         “1967a,” “1984b,” “1992,” “1993c,” and “2003” (Foster et al 505-508, 596-599, 624-629, 639-644, 664-669)

 

Themes:

·         Artist as a specific individual.

·         The “death of the artist.”

 

Week 15

Dec. 15 – Final Exam, 6-8 pm

 

Requirements:

Attendance & Participation – 20%

Short Paper (Sept. 29) – 10%

Quiz (Oct. 20) – 20%

Paper (Dec. 1; abstract & bibliography Oct. 27) – 30%

Final Exam (Dec. 15) – 20%

 

Academic Conduct:

This course is governed by the guidelines described in the College of Arts and Sciences Academic Conduct Code.  Should you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism or any other issue of academic conduct, please contact me.

 

Submitting Assignments:

I prefer that all written assignments be submitted via email.  Simply attach a Word of PDF file and send it to taraward@bu.edu.

 


Subpages (2): Exams Papers
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