ARTH 286/686
20th Century Art 1900-1945
Instructor: Professor Kavky
MWF 11-12

Course Description

The art of the Twentieth century is characterized by a radical break with all preceding art. Or is it? In this course, we will study the art produced in Europe and the United States between 1900 and 1945. We will examine its innovations--in style, materials, subject matter, and philosophy--and its continuing relation to artistic traditions.

The lectures, readings and discussions focus on six major themes: 1) The relationship between art and politics (class, gender, nationalism); 2) Abstraction versus realism or "outer" versus "inner" vision; 3) Primitivism and the search for origins, innocence and freedom from societal constraints; 4) Reactions to modernity, including attitudes toward originality, tradition and the rise of technology; 5) The relation between "high" art and popular culture; and 6) The role of artists and art in a modern society.

Are artists political revolutionaries? Spiritual leaders? Working-class producers? Or the spoiled lap-dogs of the moneyed classes? Is art politically or spiritually meaningful or is it merely expensive decoration? Can it transcend the mundane world or is it mired in particular economic and social relations? Are art and artistic values universal and eternal or are they personal and mutable? These are the questions and issues we will address.

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Last update: June 20, 2001

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