Art History 420

ARTH 420: Contemporary Art History (Art since 1950)

Prerequisites: It is recommended that students complete ART 216 before taking this course.

Credit Hours: (3)

An examination of the many exciting changes in art from 1950 until the present. Although chronology is important, the course centralizes key questions such as why abstraction, the impact of digital media on more traditional media such as painting and drawing, and the influence of identity group politics on art.

Note(s): This course is required for BFA Studio Art majors and art history majors; strongly recommended for BS Studio Art and BS Art Education majors. Other students may use it as a humanitites elective. All students are advised to complete ART 216 before taking this.

Description of the Content of the Course

This course is designed for art majors in all the department degrees: art history, studio art (both degrees), and art education. Non-majors can use it as a humanities elective. The course examines the many exciting changes which have taken place in the nature of art since the middle of the 20th century and attempts to correlate these changes with social and historical developments. In addition to discussion of the artists and art works that have contributed to these changes, it also addresses the issues which motivate changes in style. These issues range from politics, economy and market issues, the emergence of special interest groups, to changes in media. The variety of media is too rich to limit our focus to painting and sculpture; therefore, we will also examine installations, digital art, performance art and a variety of traditional and new media. Although chronology can provide organization, most of the new textbooks dealing with this period are organized by thematic questions rather than chronology. Our task is to make them work together.

Description of the Conduct of the Course

This class combines lectures and digital "slide shows", videos, online materials, discussion, and re-enactments. The latter activities are designed for "participatory learning" in which students are asked to take a position held by one of the actual participants in historically controversial court cases or federal incidents involving art. Opportunities to create power points, write essays or take quizzes as methods of demonstrating progess with the course objectives are also provided. All assignments are explained in D2L course materials.

Goals and Objectives of the Course

Students will demonstrate a level of familiarity with the ideas, art works, art historical theory, and terminology associated with significant movements and artists of the late 20th century and early 21st; students will also develop the ability to relate their personal developments as an artist or critic to these changes in art and culture.

Learning Objectives: Students will

1. Display their ability to recognize and discuss, using appropriate art historical concepts, the masterworks of contemporary styles;

2. Recognize the ways in which new media, subject matter, and artistic goals superseded the procession of styles that characterized earlier centuries in the history of art;

3. Reflect on the various meanings of abstraction proposed through a review of different artists' and critics' explanations;

4. Compare the influence of such variables as gender, economic systems, and politics in both the creation and reception of art;

5. Demonstrate and apply their understanding to art works and artists not previously analyzed in class through independent exploration of a provocative issue, artist or work of art. [Acceptable artist for analysis msy be oneself or someone else from the department.]

Assessment Measures

Include: Slide shows and essays, quizzes in D2L, participation in a reenactment, and a semester long project and paper. All will be described in more detail in D2L and class.

Other Course Information



Review and Approval

March 16, 2018