Problems in Modern Art
Abstraction and Realism in Modern Art
T 10:00am-1:00pm
210 Tappan
3 Credit Seminar

This course explores the interrelationship between abstract and realist tendencies in modern art. In all forms of visual art, there is an interplay between the internal, formal logic of the work, and its representational aspects - its capacity to evoke something beyond itself, whether this be a concrete phenomenon in the material world or a cultural or psychological reality. The situation in the twentieth century is unusual because of the intensity and self-consciousness of the preoccupation with the abstracting dimension to art. In the period from the 1920s to the 1960s (the period that forms the historical focus of this course), such preoccupations gave rise to intense debate between advocates of abstraction or formal rigor on the one hand and proponents of realism or of a more direct engagement with everyday life and the material world on the other. In order to clarify the constantly shifting meaning of abstraction and realism in these discussions, we shall be exploring the writing of key theorists such as the Marxists Theodor W. Adorno and Georg Lukacs and of influential art world figures such as André Breton and Clement Greenberg. We shall also be examining in particular depth the work and the theoretical reflections of artists such as Paul KIee and David Smith whose approaches played out a particularly fertile give and take between abstracting and realist imperatives.

Estiamted cost for materials: less than $50