Rojava by Ben Dunn

You are here

ART H 381 A: Art Since World War II

We look forward to safely returning to in-person instruction and activities this autumn quarter. Current and prospective students please visit our COVID-19 Updates pages.
Meeting Time: 
MWF 1:00pm - 2:20pm
ART 003
Adair Rounthwaite
Adair Rounthwaite

Syllabus Description:

Art H 381 – Art Since World War II

Professor Adair Rounthwaite

M/W/F 1:00-2:20 pm, Art Building room 003, office Art 367


 Tetsumi Kudo, "Cohabitation Between Man and the Transistors," 1980-81


Course description

The period from 1945 to the present is among the most dynamic in the history of global art production. This class is a survey of the past 70 years that familiarizes students with the incredible changes the concept of art has undergone in this era. We focus on the innovations that occurred in a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, and performance, as well as on the relationships between these practices, and the ultimate break-down of the coherence of the medium as such. We also analyze critical theories for understanding art that have emerged during this period, with a particular focus on politicized frames of interpretation, such as feminism, queer theory, critical analyses of class and culture, and theories of postcoloniality and multiculturalism. Connecting our discussions will be a consideration of what types of viewership artists have sought to foster, and how those goals relate to the local and global contexts in which they produce their work.


Learning goals

In this class, students will:

  • Become familiar with the major movements and tendencies in art from 1945 to the present.
  • Come to understand the interpenetration of art practice and theory during this period.
  • Gain familiarity with critical tools that will enable them to analyze both art and the scholarship surrounding it.
  • Develop their skills in the close visual analysis of artworks.
  • Visit local art institutions and experience artworks in person.


Grade breakdown

25% - Midterm exam, in class on Wednesday, Feb. 3 

30% - Final exam (during finals period)

35% - Artwork Analysis essay (c. 1500-1700 words). Students will write a short essay that performs an analysis of an artwork in the Seattle Art Museum’s permanent collection of modern and contemporary art; in the SAM’s temporary exhibition “Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic” (opens Feb. 11); or in “Paradox of Place: Contemporary Korean Art” (Oct. 31 – March 13) at the Asian Art Museum.

10% - Participation, including bringing the assigned texts to class, arriving punctually, contributing to class discussion of the readings, and meeting with me to discuss your essay


Required text

All students must have the following required text:

Jonathan Fineberg, Art Since 1940: Strategies of Being, 3rd edition. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2011.

Additional readings are available as PDFs on Canvas.


Full course syllabus: Rounthwaite 381 2016 syllabus.pdf

Catalog Description: 
Art of Europe and the United States in the decades since World War II: painting, sculpture, and architecture, multiplication of new forms (video, performance pieces, land and installation pieces), changing context of patronage, publicity, and marketing.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:01pm