Special Topics: Looking Modern: Fashion and Modernism, 1900-1960
Charles Baudelaire equated the rapid changes in fashion with the instability of modern life. As the fashion industry grew, so did its power as a social force that shaped artistic production in the twentieth century. This course focuses on the relationship between art and fashion from 1900 through 1960. It proceeds from an understanding of fashion as a way to dress the body and as a phenomenon that perpetuates constant social and aesthetic changes. We will examine paintings, prints, and photographs, as well as primary texts from fashion and art publications to explore the art/fashion dialectic. Our recurring questions: How do the practitioners associated with Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, New Plasticism, Expressionism, Dadaism, the New Objectivity, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and Pop Art represent clothing and/or engage in the discourse of fashion? And in return, how does fashion respond to artistic developments? From there, we will consider how fashion can both bolster and undermine the goals of artists looking to critique and transform society. To enrich these themes, we shall examine the socio-political significance of fashion and consumerism in relations to gender and identity. This course is an ideal complement to HA 271, HA 272, and HA 338. No prior knowledge of art or fashion is required.
Estimated cost of materials: $50 or less.
HISTART category for concentration distributions: D. Europe and the US, 4. Modern and Contemporary.