HISTART 497-002

Upper Level Seminar: Theory and Aesthetics in the Avant-Gardes

270 Tappan
Th 9:00-12:00pm
3 Credit Seminar

The avant-gardes turn visual experimentation into an act of purity, but also politics. These movements seek to invent a new kind of object which will cut through the brine of bourgeois life and bring art beyond the confines of the museum into the revolutionary streets. They aim to derange the present, raise consciousness, convulse the viewer, bring about the future. Theory plays a crucial role in such avant-garde projects by providing analytical background, historical context, poetic spirit and revolutionary consciousness meant to empower the experimental art object with expanded poetic force, revolutionary cutting edge, and political power. Theory in the great movements of Constructivism, Surrealism, Futurism, De Stijl is as experimental as the creation of new kinds of art objects in new materials and media. Often written by poets of the movement, theory is a space in which the meaning and power is given room to be imagined.

Through close reading of the avant-gardes this class will explore the nature of this avant-garde space where visual object and word demand each other. The point will not only be historical, the course aims to understand the legacies of avant-garde experimentalism and thinking in contemporary art practice. It seeks to understand the role of theory, aesthetics and of politics in art today by looking back in time to the earlier part of the twentieth century and the avant-gardes.

Estimated Cost of Materials: $50-$100.

HISTART Categories for concentration distributions: 4. Modern and Contemporary, D. Europe and the US