Breathe by Lanxia (Summer) Xie

You are here

ART H 309 C: Topics In Art History

Operations and teaching are online. Current and prospective students: please visit our COVID-19 Updates pages. Faculty and staff are available via email.
Meeting Time: 
MWF 8:30am - 9:50am
ART 003
Kolya M. Rice

Syllabus Description:


Winter 2016
AH 309C: 20th Century Art and Criticism

Instructor: Kolya Rice
Office hours: M/W 10-11 and by appointment
311 Art,

This course is designed to introduce participants to key movements, themes and strategies utilized by western Modern artists from around 1900 to 1990. Unlike traditional surveys, the course will focus on the ways these artistic practices have been framed by art writing, both in terms of criticism as well as artists' own writings. Although the course offers an overview of the period covered, unlike traditional survey classes, at points this class will be more narrowly focused through topical investigations of specific artists or themes. While image-based lectures anchor the course, discussion is integral to the success of the course.

1. TEXT: H.H. Arnason and Marla F. Prather, History of Modern Art: Painting,
Sculpture, Architecture, Photography, 7th ed. (New Jersey: Prentice Hall: 2013).
2. Reading Packet (Purchase at RAM Copy Center, 4144 University Ave)

To help you prepare for exams, each Friday a selection of images viewed in class during the week will be placed on Canvas as pdf files. These images will be accompanied with basic factual information (Artist, Title, Date).

Course Requirements:
1. Active participation in all meetings. Please note, active participation assumes that you thoroughly read and think about course materials in advance of class meetings, that you meaningfully contribute to discussions, and that you complete any informal exercises assigned.
2. Midterm Exam
3. 2 Art Review Essays
4. Final Exam
Note: make-up exams will not be given without legitimate documentation of severe illness, family emergencies, etc. Extensions for written work will be granted only under similar conditions. Late papers will not be accepted. All course requirements must be completed for credit to be awarded.

Midterm Exam (35%)
Final Exam (35%)
2 Art Review Essays (20%)
Participation (10%)

Key dates to remember:
1/29 Review #1 due in class
2/5 Midterm take-home component handed out
2/10 Midterm Exam in class component
2/19 Midterm take-home due in class
3/7 Review #2 due in class
3/15 Final Exam 8:30-10:20


Course Outline and Reading Assignments
(Please have these assignments read by the date listed below.)

M 1/4 Introduction to the Course

W 1/6 Backdrop: the rise of Modernism and abstraction in painting
Text: Chapters 1-3 (focus on painting)

F 1/8- Fauvism and Expressionism
M 1/11 Text: Chapters 5-6
•Matisse, “Notes of a Painter” (1908) in Art in Theory 1900-2000 (2003): 69-75.
•Kandinsky, “The Effect of Color,” from Theories of Modern Art (1968): 152-
Optional: Kandinsky, “The Problem of Form,” from Theories of Modern Art (1968): 155-70.

W 1/13 Cubism, its legacies, and the development of “formalist” criticism
Text: Chapter 7 & 11 and pp. 257-58 (focus on Picasso, Braque and later Matisse).
•Picasso, “Picasso Speaks” (1923) in Art in Theory 1900-2000 (2003): 215-217.
•Bell, “The Aesthetic Hypothesis,” from Modern Art and Modernism: A
Critical Anthology (1982): 67-74.

F 1/15 The Historical Avant-Garde: Futurism, Dada and Surrealism
Text: Chapters 10 & 14
•Marinetti, “The Founding Manifesto of Futurism,” from Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas (2003): 146-149.
•Breton, “First Manifesto of Surrealism,” from Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas (2003): 447-453.
Optional: Freud, “On Dreams,” from Art in Theory 1900-2000 (2003): 21-28.

M 1/18 NO CLASS—MLK Holiday

W 1/20 The Historical Avant-Garde: Futurism, Dada and Surrealism (cont’d)

F 1/22- Early 20thC American painting
M 1/25 Text: Chapter 15
•Schapiro, “The Social Bases of Art” (1936), in Art in Theory 1900-2000 (2003): 514-518.
•Davis, “On Abstract Art,” from Abstract Painting in America (1935): 122-23.


W 1/27 Regionalism and Social Realism
Text: Chapter 15
•Craven, “Modernism,” in Men of Art (1933): 491-513.
•Benton, excerpt from An Artist in America (1951)

F 1/29- Abstract Expressionism: Artists and Critics
M 2/1 Text: Chapter 16
•Rosenberg, “The American Action Painters,” (1952) in Art in Theory 1900-2000 (2003): 589-592.
•Greenberg, “Modernist Painting,” The New Art (1966): 100-110.
•Greenberg, “How Art Writing Earns a Bad Name,” Encounter (Dec 1962): 67-71.
Optional: Greenberg, “Avant-Garde and Kitsch,” from Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays, vol. I (1986): 5-22.
**Review #1 due in class 1/29

W 2/3- Reactions to Abstract Expressionism
F 2/5 Text: Chapters 19 (pp. 486-504) and 20 (focus on Post-Painterly Abstraction).
•Sandler, “The Duchamp-Cage Aesthetic,” The New York School (1978): 163-173.
•Duchamp, “The Creative Act,” in Battcock ed., The New Art (1966): 23-26.
**Midterm take-home handed out

M 2/8 Catch-up and review for Midterm Exam. Each student must bring 3 written questions to class.

W 2/10 Midterm Exam in class

F 2/12 NO CLASS (extended Presidents Day)
M 2/15 NO CLASS—Presidents Day

W 2/17- Early Performance Art
F 2/19 Text: Chapter 18 and 19
•Barbara Haskell. “Happenings,” Blam! The Explosion of Pop, Minimalism and Performance 1958-64 (NY: The Whitney Museum 1984): 31-48.
**Midterm take-home due

M 2/22 Postwar European painting
Text: Chapter 17
•Jean Dubuffet, “Notes for the Well-Lettered,” (1946) from Art in Theory 1900-2000 (2003): 603-605.

W 2/24 Pop Art
Text: Chapter 19
•Sidra Stich. “The Cultural Climate after World War II,” Made in U.S.A.: An Americanization in Modern Art, the 50’s & 60’s (Berkeley: University of California 1987): 6-13.

F 2/26- Feminist Art Practices
M 2/29 Text: Skim chapter 22
•Broude and Garrard, “Introduction: Feminist Art in the Twentieth Century,” The Power of Feminist Art (1994): 10-29.
•Kate Linker, excerpts from Love for Sale (NY: Abrams 1990): 12-18, 27-31, 59-64.

W 3/2- Sculpture in an Expanded Field: light art and Earthworks
F 3/4 Text: Chapter 23
•Patricia Failing. “James Turrell’s New Light on the Universe, Art News (April 1985): 71-78.

M 3/7 Video art
Text: Chapter 22
•Bill Viola, “Video Black—The Mortality of the Image (1990) from Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists Writings (1996): 446-50.
**Review #2 due in class

W3/9 Art and the politics of identity
Text: Chapters 26-27

F 3/11 Catch-up and review for Final Exam. Each student must bring 3 written questions to class.

Tuesday 3/15 Final Exam in class 8:30-10:20

Catalog Description: 
Topics vary.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:01pm