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COURSE NAME: "Twentieth Century Art"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Karen Georgi
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 10:00-11:15 AM
OFFICE HOURS: Tuesdays 11:30-12:30, or by appointment

Twentieth century art consists of well-known Modernist and Postmodernist styles and movements such as Cubism, Futurism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, installations and earthworks, to name a few. It also encompasses lesser-known movements such as the American urban realists, the Regionalists, Soviet Socialist Realism. But what does Modernism mean and how does it relate to the century’s dramatic modernization of daily life, social organization, commercial development, political and cultural nationalism, and two World Wars? Through an analysis of the art, artists, and critical discourses in question, the course will consider the fundamental questions: what is art’s relationship to the larger culture? What is the artist’s role in society? What do aesthetic concerns have to do with life? While these questions are always pertinent, they demand particular attention in the century largely defined by the ideology of art’s autonomy, pure creativity, and individual expression. Extensive visual analysis will be accompanied by attention to the critical discourses with which the aesthetics were defined, giving students the chance to develop an understanding of key 20th century styles but also to learn how these styles communicated historically.
The course will be structured around a comparison of European and American Modernist and Postmodernist movements, taking advantage of the art present in the city, and also focusing on a series of international exhibitions from the famous Armory Show in New York in 1913 to the World's Fairs, to the Venice Biennale. These points of artistic interchange will help bring the relevant aesthetic and socio- political issues to the fore, since there were condiserable differences on the opposite sides of the Atlantic in the ways that artistic production and reception responded to and represented such things as technological development, mass consumer culture, individual subjectivity and collective identity, political resistance.
Students who conscientiously apply themselves will become conversant in key 20th century American and European movements and artists and the critical discourses with which they were elaborated and defined. They will also develop skills for visually analyzing and recognizing forms and competently assessing stylistic differences with an understanding of how such styles communicated historically. They will begin to grasp the complex role of art in society and the ideological bases for 20th century notions of creativity and the autonomy of art that are still with us today.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Varieties of ModernismPaul WoodYale Univ with Open Univxxxx  
ModernismCharles HarrisonCambridge Univ Pressxxxx  
American Art since 1945David JoselitThames & Hudsonxxxxx  
Reconstructing Modernism: Art in New York, Paris, and Montreal, 1955-1964Serge GuilbautMIT Pressxxxx  
Picasso and TruthT.J. ClarkPrinceton Univ. Pressxxxx  
The First Pop AgeHal FosterPrinceton Univ. Pressxxxx  
Mussolini's RomeBorden PainterPalgrave Macmillanxxxx  
Realism, Rationalism, Surrealism: Art Between the WarsBriony Fer, et. al.Yale Univ. Pressxxxx  
Rise of the Sixties: American and European Art in the Era of DissentThomas CrowLaurence Kingxxxx  
Re-Ordering the Universe: Picasso and AnarchismPatricia Leightonxxxxxxxx  

midterm exam  30
final exam 35
term paper 20
written reading summaries and discussiongrade based on written assignments and preparation for class discussion15

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

Attendance is mandatory
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Course Schedule will be distributed in class. Below are the topics that will be covered

Anti-academicism in the U.S.: Urban realism and the Ashcan School

 The Armory Show

Is it Art?: Brancusi and some definitions of modern art

Cubism: Picasso and Braque

Futurism in Italy

Dada in Zurich and Berlin

Dada in New York


Fascist Modernism in Rome

1930s in Europe: The politics of realism and abstraction

1930s in the U.S:: The politics of realism and abstraction

Mural Painting, public art, and the Federal Arts Project in the U.S:

The Rhetoric of Photography part 1: Documentary photography

part 2: Surrealist photography

Abstract Expressionism: Constructing individual artistic expression

Abstract Expressionism: Exporting individualism

Post-Abstract Expressionism: Towards post-modernism

Art and consumer culture

Pop art in the U.S.