ART: THEORY AND PRACTICE SINCE 1960

NMSK1963 006

This course has been running for some time and has proved to be an influence and inspiration for successive generations of artists at Glasgow School of Art. It aims to:

  • Introduce students to key themes and developments within western art practice since 
c.1960.
  • Provide students with a variety of theoretical perspectives relevant to contemporary cultural 
practices.
  • Facilitate cross-disciplinary thought and practical connections, by bringing together students 
on different programmes of study.
  • Enable students to conduct and manage their own critical inquiry.
  • Interrogate the relationships between forms of research and modes of practice.

The intended learning outcomes of the course plan to help you:

  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the critical debates and concepts associated with the course material
  • Engage critically with the course material
    Explain their understanding of the relation between their own practice and its historical and 
intellectual contexts
  • Demonstrate an ability to participate in discussion and debate which relates to historical and 
contemporary issues within their specialism
  • Work independently and demonstrate initiative in the context of independent learning
  • Research and prepare work to an appropriate standard for assessment, and be able to 
evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.

CindySherman-Untitled-Film-Still-35-1979

Indicative Content:

There are eight session on the following themes: you can download the handout for each class by clicking on the title.

SESSION 1- “MODERNISM IN DISPUTE”

SESSION 2- “THE PAINTINGS ARE DEAD

SESSION 3- “THE DEATH OF THE AUTHOR”

SESSION 4- “FROM WORK TO (CON)TEXT”

SESSION 5- THE POLITICS OF REPRESENTATION

SESSION 6- IN THE RUINS OF HISTORY

SESSION 7- ART- COMMODITIES- SIGNS- DESIRE.

SESSION 8- GENDER- DIFFERENCE AND IDENTITY.

SESSION 9: ART’S RECEPTION

SESSION 10: THE ARTIST-RUN MOVEMENT

Slides for class 10: Peter Thomson, Julie Roberts, Michael fullerton

critiques

With the assessment arrangements you will be assessed on your ability to:

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the concepts, theories and practices presented 
within the course;
  • Reflexively relate these concepts, theories and practices to their own work;
  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of modes of artistic practice and theorization post-1960;
  • Devise and manage their own research projects.

What does the course cover:

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Session one ‘Modernism in Dispute’:

1. Medium-specific purity

2. Flatness, shape and objecthood

3. Enlightenment rationalism

4. Binary thought

5. Centre and Margins

6. Historicism and progress in art

7. Krauss’s model of sculpture in the expanded field

8. Craig Owens on modernism and the suppression of writing

9. The critique of originality: some introductory comments

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Session two ‘The Paintings Are Dead’:

1. The various lives and deaths of painting’s surface.

2. Richard Wollheim on the use of the surface and the fact of the surface.

3. The ‘fact’ of the surface and the literalization of paint.

4. Leo Steinberg and “the flatbed picture plane.”

5. From nature to culture: painting as a sign system.

6. The photographic condition of painting

7. The society of the spectacle.

8. Pictures of paintings: fakes and simulation.

9. Gerhard Richter

10. The ‘commodification’ of abstract painting.

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Session three ‘The Death of the Author’:

1. Mediaeval conceptions of originality and authorship

2. European humanism

3. Contemporary copyists

4. Burgin on painting, humanism and logocentrism

5. Humanism and anti-humanism: historical perspectives

6. Photography and ownership

7. Painting and the marketing of temperaments

8. Foucault and the functions of the figure of the author

9. The ‘expressive fallacy’
10. Representation knows only a ‘subject’, not a ‘person’

11. Cindy Sherman and the identity that is already spoken

12. The problem of grounding meaning within a system of infinite referral

13. David Salle and inter-textuality

14. The fugitive self

15. Lacan: the Mirror Stage (Imaginary) and entry into language (Symbolic)

16. Fixed-point perspective and centred subjectivity

17. Polyphony and dialogism

18. Authorial meaning and intention

19. The sign is ‘half someone else’s’

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Session four ‘From Work to (Con)Text’:
1. From autonomy to contextuality

2. Framing

3. “Transmission Gallery”

4. “Comments On Communication”

5. The Institutional Context

6. Daniel Buren and the artist’s studio

7. The Container and the Contained

8. Robert Smithson: Absence and Presence

9. Gordon Matta-Clark’s urban archaeology

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Session five ‘The Politics of Representation’:
1. Aestheticisation

2. Lyotard on the Postmodern Sublime

3. On Difficulty

4. Louis Althusser and Ideological State Apparatuses

5. Representation and Power

6. Jenny Holzer and the subversion of media messages

7. Roland Barthes and mythology

8. Interpolation

9. Barbara Kruger: Poses and Positions

10. Hans Haacke and the politics of representation

11. Martha Rosler and the problem of ‘speaking for others’

12. Sophie Calle: presentation, representation and surveillance

Gerhard Richter

Session six ‘In The Ruins of History’:
1. History as undifferentiated “pastness”

2. Lyotard: Master Narratives and History as Fiction

3. Frederic Jameson and the schizophrenic repetition of the present

4. Kenny Hunter’s Hyperboreans

5. Gerhard Richter’s Oktober 1977: history and the mass media

6. Historicism and progress in art

7. Anselm Kiefer: History, Mourning and Melancholy

8. Anti-Monuments Anti-Memorials

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Session seven ‘Art/Commodities/Signs/Desire’:
1. Use-value and exchange-value

2. The manufactured gift-item

3. Modernism and the Art Object

4. Repression…

5. The Return of the Repressed

6. Art and serial production

7. Baudrillard and “sign-value”

8. Desire

9. The eroticism of sight

10. Haim Steinbach

11. Cultural tourism (the Disneyland syndrome)

12. Jeff Koons: Desire and the commodity form

jeff_koons_michael_jackson_bubbles

Session eight ‘Difference and Identity’:
1. Gender: Difference and Identity

2. Representation and Gendered Identity—The Politics of Representation

3. Avoiding binarism

4. Problematizing Masculinity

5. Gendered identity as a position within representation

6. What’s wrong with “Images of Women”?

7. Difference

8. The psychoanalytic approach

9. Lacan I: the phallus and phallocentrism

10. The figure of “Woman” as a token or Gift

11. Woman “as…(untruth)”

12. Woman “as” woman

13. Woman “as” Man

14. Deconstruction: the feminine inhabits the masculine

15. Lacan II: the Imaginary and the Symbolic order

16. The Imaginary as the site of the feminine?

17. The question of essentialism in mediums and iconography

18. The female body and feminist art

19. Mary Kelly’s Post-Partum Document, 1973-78

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Selected artists covered by the course:

Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Cindy Sherman, Sherrie Levine, Mike Bidlo, Richard Prince, David Salle, Sigmar Polke, Philip Taaffe, Ross Bleckner, Peter Halley, David Salle, Gerhard Richter, Frank Stella, Robert Morris, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Robert Smithson, Kenneth Noland, Anthony Caro, Marcel Broodthaers, Gordon Matta-Clark, Jenny Holzer, Martha Rosler, Sophie Calle, Anselm Kiefer, Jeff Koons, Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Andy Warhol, Helen Chadwick, Mary Kelly.

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Selected theorists covered by the course:

Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Ferdinand de Saussure, Jean Baudrillard, Clement Greenberg, Rosalind Krauss, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Louis Althusser, Victor Burgin, Frederic Jameson, Marina Warner, Linda Nochlin, Griselda Pollock.

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Selected references covered by the course:

Clement Greenberg ‘Modernist Painting’
Michael Fried ‘Art and Objecthood’
Rosalind Krauss ‘Sculpture in the Expanded Field’
Hal Foster (ed) ‘Postmodern Culture’
Victor Burgin ‘The Absence of Presence: Conceptualism and Postmodernisms’
Benjamin Buchloh ‘Neo-Avantgarde and the Culture Industry,’
Richard Wollheim ‘The Work of Art as Object’
Roland Barthes ‘The Death of the Author’
Victor Burgin ‘The Absence of Presence’
Terry Eagleton ‘Literary Theory’
Michel Foucault ‘What is an Author?’
Serge Guilbaut ‘Reconstructing Modernism’
Jacques Lacan ’The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis’
Daniel Buren ‘The Function of the Museum’
Craig Owens ‘Beyond Recognition’
Gisela Ecker (ed)’Feminist Aesthetics’

One Response to “ART: THEORY AND PRACTICE SINCE 1960”


  1. Your e-address seems to have changed since our last contact. Please write to us again at: curtis@msh-paris.fr

    Sincerely,

    David Ames Curtis


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