Fall for 2017-2018
What is “abstraction” in art? How, when and why did it happen? What does it mean? Obviously all abstract pictures do not look alike. And each artist seeks something different through his or her unique abstract language. How can we know what a picture “means” when it has no discernible “subject”? Why do people fear and scorn abstract images? May abstract art be called “dehumanized,” as José Ortega y Gasset claimed in 1949? Did the CIA use abstract expressionist painting as a weapon against the Communists?
These and many other questions comprise the subject of this seminar. Starting with nineteenth-century Symbolist art theory and continuing with Wassily Kandinsky’s famous 1911 tract “Concerning the Spiritual in Art,” we will proceed to consider Mondrian and Neo-Plasticism; Malevich and Suprematism; Abstract Expressionism and the New York School; and Minimalism. Time permitting, we will look at the state of abstract art today.
Other academic years
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