Special Topics: "Towards a Free Revolutionary Art": Art and Visual Culture during the Inter-War Period (1919-1939)
180 Tappan Hall
MW 2:00-5:00pm
Summer - 3 Credit Seminar

This course will focus on North American and European art and visual culture created during the 1920s and 30s. During this period a basic tenet of artistic modernism, that of the separation of art and life, was challenged as the cultural landscape was dominated by artists whose practice engaged with contemporary realities. Politically and economically, the era was largely defined by the devastation of the First World War, the formation of the Soviet Union, growing consumerism, rapid urbanization, the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Great Depression and the rise of Fascism in Western Europe. In this class we will study co-existing trends in abstract and realist painting and, through visual analysis and close readings of primary and secondary texts, consider the complex relationship between the two artistic modes. We will also reflect upon the utilization of art as a political tool, wielded by the artist and/or patron at both ends of the political spectrum. With these themes in mind, we will examine Avant-garde, Regionalist, and Social Realist painting of the 20s and 30s, as well as Diego Rivera's frescoes in Detroit and New York, and similarly large-scale mural projects commissioned of Picasso, Renau and Leger for the 1937 World's Fair in Paris. Estimated cost of materials: less than $50. D. E. 4

Diego Rivera, Detroit Industry, South Wall, Detroit Institute of Arts (1932-1933)