Contemporary Art Survey

January 11, 2010

Aims and Objectives

Contemporary Art is art of our times; it reflects our lives. It will be exciting to get an insight into the enormous range of artwork that is being created today in our globalized world. The fact that all this is not canonized yet is a difficulty but also an opportunity; scholars cannot even agree on when contemporary art starts! So, we are free to make our own choices of what we want to deal with. This class aims to give an introduction to contemporary art, from its foundations to very current movements. A satisfying survey is impossible to give within a semester, but after this class you will be much more comfortable to dwell in the contemporary art world on your own.

Teaching-Learning Philosophy

This will be an active and interactive class! I am a convinced advocate for the paradigm shift that is taking place in higher education: from teaching to learning. This means active participation on your part. One way is by blogging on our class blog.

College education in the humanities is about developing critical thinking; this means establishing a habit of questioning, judging, and exchanging views among each other. You will learn to appreciate your fellow students as partners in a discussion process. And we will all practice how to develop ways of analyzing and interpreting new art.

Required Textbook: Brandon Taylor, Contemporary Art. Art since 1970, Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2005
check sources and availability here

This is a pragmatic choice. It is structured by decades, which reflect the historical, political, sociological and philosophical background. This makes it easier for beginners to deal with the overwhelming amount of contemporary art. Besides, it provides a fair amount of images. The book does lack a lot, though, mostly in terms of in-depth information and interpretation. We will turn this lack into an advantage by reading it critically, asking what we want to get from it. Additional readings will complement the textbook.

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