This course is an introduction to modern American and European art. It surveys the different kinds of experimental and avant-garde art produced over the past hundred years. The reasons why artists rejected traditional artistic forms are explored, as well as the new ways of making art they developed in response to changes taking place in the world around them. The course aims to give you a better understanding of the relationship between realism and abstraction in modern and contemporary art. It begins with the avant-gardes of the early twentieth century. Moving through the modernist, realist and Surrealist art of the mid-twentieth-century, the experimental work and alternative practices of the 1960s and 1970s and the turn to postmodernism in the later years of the twentieth century, it continues up to the present day. There are two main themes. How were visual representation and conceptions of the art work redefined in the modern period; and what do these artistic developments tell us about the changing political and social realities of the times?
The course is taught by way of lectures and discussions in sections. You will need to buy three textbooks from the Yale University Press series 'Art of the Twentieth Century' (total cost about $90). Further set readings that that are not in these textbooks will be made available on electronic reserve. Art of the Avant-Gardes, edited by Steve Edwards and Paul Wood. Varieties of Modernism, edited by Paul Wood. Themes in Contemporary Art, edited by Gill Perry and Paul Wood. Estimated cost of materials: $50 or more, but less than $100. D. 4