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ARTH 226

Contemporary Art & Theory

This course will be focused on art from the late 1960s to the present. This is the tradition in art which rejects many of the basic principles and qualities of Modernism; that is, it rejects an exclusive focus on oil painting and pedestal-based sculpture, the autonomy of the artwork from the wider world, and the ideal of the artist as a larger-than-life person who reaches a level of personal emotional or spiritual insight, turning that insight into a cultural achievement, in painting or sculpture, beyond the abilities of ordinary mortals. We will examine how this new tradition, critical of the earlier era of Modernism, emerged and developed, and how it still essentially defines the agenda of today's art world. We will address the crucial question: Is the rejection of those earlier ideals and goals in contemporary art a liberation or a defeat? We will also address the situation in contemporary art, the direct result of that rejection, in which art takes on a bewildering array of materials, methods, procedures, goals, and modes of self-presentation; rarely does one see in contemporary art exhibitions a simple framed painting, hanging on the wall, unless it is presented with exquisite irony and ambivalence. Not open to students with credit in ARTH 342, Art Theory and Criticism.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

Spring Semester information

Michael MacKenzie

226A: ContemporaryArt&Theory