The Presence of Art: Reinterpreting Modern and Contemporary Art
Full course description
Since the late 19th century and certainly up until the mid-20th century artists have issued avant-garde manifestoes of change, claiming their art to be ahead of the times. Critical of conventions and traditions, they regarded art as a revolutionary means to social, political, cultural, and intellectual emancipation and progress. Through what has been called the “shock of the new,” by making tabula rasa with the existing, art was to create a better world. Were it not for the fact that art effectively served the ideologies of both the socialist and fascist totalitarianisms of the last century, such radical ambitions might even sound a bit naïve, nowadays. Indeed, as yesterday’s future has become today’s past, the utopias of a bygone era seem to have been disappointed, at last - or have they not? Do we need to rescue avant-garde virtues and ideals for the sake of the relevance of contemporary art? What precisely is the legacy of the modern avant-garde besides its success on the global art market? In the early 21st century and under the spell of a “new spirit of capitalism”, is there any hope left for effective artistic critique? Or does the current “economy of enrichment” simply reduce the value of art to a financial speculation tool?
This course considers histories and theories of modern and contemporary art. It provides an overview of the heterogeneous and experimental development of modern and contemporary art. Artistic responses to society, politics, science, and technology are discussed. A further emphasis is on the practices governing institutions of the contemporary art world, such as art markets and museums. The course features a visit to the Bonnefanten museum in Maastricht, as well as a studio visit and debate with an artist in residence at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht.
- To study historical and theoretical approaches to modern and contemporary art.
- To enable critical reflection and debate on the meaning and relevance of artistic practices.
- To learn how to write an art review.
The courses IER3004 and ACU3004 or ACU3005 are compulsory courses within this Interfaculty minor.
- Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, David Joselit, Art Since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism. Thames and Hudson, London, 2011.
- Sarah Thornton, Seven Days in the Art World. Granta, London, 2008.
- Georgina Adam, Big Bucks: The Explosion of the Art Market in the 21st Century. Lund Humphries, Farnham, 2014.
- Gilda Williams, How to Write about Contemporary Art. Thames and Hudson, London, 2014.