HISTART 395-002

Superheroes - The Legacy of the Avant-Gardes

Tappan 210
T Th 10:00am - 12:00-pm
2 Credit Mini-Seminar. First half of term.

Art today is shaped by the legacy of the avant-gardes. The avant-gardes arose after the devastations of the First World War and aimed to link artistic experimentation to consciousness-raising and historical change in order to better the world. They gravitated to experiments in new media, multi-media, architecture, and group work. Formulating themselves into movements based in solidarity, they set the blueprint for many art practices today.

Our mini-course will explore the rise and practice of the avant-gardes — Russian Constructivism, Surrealism, Duchamp, etc. in detail. We will explore visual art, experimental film, installation, architecture and literary writing. After which we will turn to the legacy of these creative reformulations of art practice in the work of Andy Warhol, post-War-German art, and American avant-garde work of the 1970s where the emphasis, after the social movements of the 1960s, became the critique of representational stereotypes that through art and culture of marginalized communities. And the articulation of political solidarities based in culture. We will also consider how the avant-gardes took the "postmodernist" turn into market-driven brands and game playing.

The basic question for the course will be this: How can art keep serious experimentation, aesthetic power, and moral/political aspiration alive at this twenty-first century moment of democratic fragility and fragmented values. Can contemporary art still matter at this moment of history, and for whom?

Class Format: Two two hour lecture/discussion classes per week for 7 weeks (first half of the semester)

Estimated Cost of Materials: $50-100

HISTART Concentration Distributions: Modern and Contemporary, Europe and the U.S.