Autumn

Abstraction

  • Course Level: Undergraduate, Graduate; undergraduate with permission
  • Department: Art History
  • Year: 2022-23
  • Term: Autumn
  • ARTH 2/36609, KNOW 2/36609

This seminar considers the abstract art that defined much of Western art in the course of the 20th century and into the 21st. Guided by two overarching questions — “Why Abstraction?” and “Beyond Abstraction?” — the class will explore different models for understanding non-figurative painting, sculpture, and other media such as textiles and television. These include the concept of utopia, phenomenology, decoration, the ready-made, appropriation, iconographies of form and materials, and reproductive media. Artists discussed include Hilma af Klint, Josef and Anni Albers, Mark Bradford, Lucio Fontana, Sam Gilliam, Eva Hesse, Donald Judd, Wassily Kandinsky, Yves Klein, El Lissitzky, Piet Mondrian, Blinky Palermo, Jackson Pollock, Gerhard Richter, Hans Richter, Aaron Siskind, Sophie Taeuber, among others. There will be regular visits to local collections. Students working on monochrome art will have the opportunity to contribute their research and writing to a fall 2022 Smart Museum exhibition’s web-based audio app and to a research symposium and possible publication.