CCTP-738 Contemporary Visual Art: Theory, Practice & Institutions
This seminar is for students interested in learning about contemporary visual art in our current historical moment. The visual arts have always been about contexts, and the arts are always being repositioned according to ongoing institutional debates, internal artworld competition, artistic rivalries, uses and inclusions of new technologies, and shifting priorities in artistic media. We will work toward developing a big picture of the contemporary artworld by looking at exciting work being produced today in the context of recent art history, the artistic and social contexts of contemporary art in the museum and gallery system, and the business and economics of the art industry. We'll find that what counts as art has always been the product of an artworld. An artworld exists to produce and safeguard the category of art in our culture, as well as to reproduce itself in ongoing configurations and redistributions of power, authority, and prestige. The one constant in contemporary art--art as institutionally recognized since the 1950s--is the continuity of an artworld in the construction of art works as such. The seminar will be developed in real time with the participation of seminar members (see the course hypersyllabus, always evolving with student participation). We will base as much of our discussions and analysis on works and exhibitions that we can see during the semester. The entire lived and active world of contemporary art is our domain, including the legacy of the past and inclusion of new media. Prior knowledge of modern and contemporary art is helpful, but not required. Enthusiasm for learning, intellectual curiosity, and susceptibility to acts of extreme beauty and provocation are more important for this seminar than any prior academic background. We will take several "field trips" to galleries and museums in Washington and also a longer trip to New York. Weekly assignments will include readings in art history and art theory, viewing specific works in area museums and galleries, and group collaborative seminar presentations. Grades will be based on seminar presentations and a final research project.
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