Course Detail
Course Components:
Enrollment Information
Requirement Designation:
Fine Arts Exploration
Course Attribute:
Honors Course
Abstraction, within the context of Greenbergian High Modernism, was characterized as quintessentially apolitical—important precisely for what it could communicate about universal truths and the human condition irrespective of its contemporary context. Revisionist accounts tell how this form of abstraction was used for political purposes, to demonstrate cultural superiority and exemplify freedom. But even abstraction itself, and the language it used to legitimize its practice and pursuits, materialized in specific social, cultural, and economic, not to mention political, conditions. This class will consider the politics of abstraction in this vein; discussing how abstraction and its discourses themselves contained and communicated different ideologies and ways of understanding the world that are laden with political significance. There will be readings from contemporary artists, critics, and philosophers' writings, through which students will not only learn about these artistic and social movements, but will also practice reading primary sources as themselves works to be analyzed. Lectures and in-class assignments will draw upon later analyses that substantiate these ideas. We will discuss individual artists and representative art movements from Europe and the United States of America from the mid 19th century through the Second World War. In addition to learning about Modern art, students will also learn visual analysis skills, and be better equipped to evaluate larger phenomena within visual culture.