Skip to Main Content

ART_HIST_260-0: Introduction to Contemporary Art: Survey of Art Since 1960 (Relyea / Feldman SP24)


What is contemporary art? When is contemporary art?  For whom is contemporary art? Where is contemporary art? And…why does contemporary art matter? This undergraduate slide-based survey introduces majors and non-majors to some of the central artists, themes, works, and debates comprising the rich and varied history of contemporary art (roughly 1960 to today) in multiple media, with a particular focus on the social and political engagements that have informed artistic developments during those decades, as well as how they are historicized in relation to other art, geopolitical conflict, and the institution. The ways in which artists have approached, contested, reflected, and reconfigured the problems and possibilities of institutions—be they social, governmental, academic, political, commercial, media-based, or the art world itself—is a central theme around which the course will find critical traction and build historical context. In addition to cultivating an understanding of what has made particular genres and instances of artistic practice significant to art history, this course allows us to think about how globalization, technology, current world conflicts, and social media, for example, have shaped artistic production, art criticism, and the art market. It also asks us to reflect upon the temporality of our present and what it is that is “contemporary” to our “now.” Assignments might include short writing assignments based on local art exhibitions of international artists, weekly readings and online viewings, a midterm, and a take-home final exam.

Morris Louis
Alpha Alpha
acrylic resin on canvas
105 x 151 in
private collection