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ARTH208: Modern Art

Unit 7: The Roots of Contemporary Art: Post-Minimalism, Conceptualism, Performance Art, Feminist Art, and Neo-Expressionism   In this unit, you will learn about the disparate art movements that came about in the late 1960s and early 1970s and discover how these movements contributed to what is widely considered the end of modern art and the emergence of contemporary art. Artists at this time became increasingly fixated on the notion of art as life, which greatly informed ideas concerning environmental art, public installation, and social sculpture. These ideas, in turn, manifested themselves in the forms of Land Art, Fluxus, Post-Minimalism, and Conceptualism.

Finally, you will learn about the beginnings of the so-called postmodern era, which includes the advent of graffiti art and the “return of the figure” in popular art, as seen in the controversial Neo-Expressionism movement.

Unit 7 Time Advisory
Time Advisory:  This unit should take you 25.75 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 7.1: 5.5 hours ☐    Subunit 7.1.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 7.1.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.1.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.1.4: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.2: 5.5 hours ☐    Subunit 7.2.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 7.2.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.2.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.2.4: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.3: 5 hours ☐    Subunit 7.3.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 7.3.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 7.3.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.3.4: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.4: 4 hours ☐    Subunit 7.4.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 7.4.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.4.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.5: 5.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.5.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 7.5.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.5.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.5.4: 1.5 hours

☐    Assessment: 0.25 hour

Unit7 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Define the Post-Minimalist, Conceptualist, Performance, Feminist, and Neo-Expressionist movements. - Identify key works of art by the artists of this time period and explain why each fits into their respective movement. - Describe the major artistic trends that contributed to the eventual demise of modern art as an intellectually consistent movement and the emergence of the post-modern era.

 

7.1 Post-Minimalism   7.1.1 Post-Minimalism   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Post-Minimalism” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Post-Minimalism” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. While reading this page, take note of the individual artists associated with Post-Minimalism. Additionally, identify, define, and take notes on the various forms of Post-Minimalism that were practiced by these artists. It’s worth noting that, unlike other modern movements, Post-Minimalism was not a cohesive movement of artists all working in similar media or under a single ethos, but an unconnected assortment of artists practicing multiple types of art, on both a small and large scale. When looking at some of the Major Works and reading about these artists, consider why this movement is called “Post-Minimalism” rather than a continuation of Minimalism.

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7.1.2 Richard Serra   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Richard Serra” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Richard Serra” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Richard Serra’s art—often considered a unique combination of sculpture, painting, and architecture—is experiential in nature. While reading this page and looking at his Major Works (with particular emphasis on the work Tilted Arc), consider both characteristics of Serra’s work, and how they challenged certain conventions in modern art. You may also wish to familiarize yourself with the definition of Process Art and think about how this style applies to Serra’s work.
 
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7.1.3 Eva Hesse   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Eva Hesse” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Eva Hesse” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Originally trained as a painter in the tradition of Abstract Expressionism, Hesse later found inspiration in a range of materials that could be considered “non-art” materials, much in the tradition of Neo-Dada and Minimalism. Read carefully for references to the various materials Hesse employed in her practice. Additionally, identify some of the key aspects of Hesse’s work. For example, Hesse displayed an evolving fascination with creating three-dimensional works of art; consider what she was trying to achieve with this practice and how she ultimately expanded upon the ideas of Minimalism.
 
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7.1.4 Robert Smithson and Land Art   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Robert Smithson” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Robert Smithson” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Smithson is well known for his Earthworks, a body of complex large-scale works that presaged the Land Art movement (sometimes referred to as Earth Art). One feature of these works was their site-specificity. While reading Smithson’s biography think about what makes Smithson’s work both “art” and something utterly different from all art forms that came before it. In doing so, consider what happens to Smithson’s earth works over time. You may wish to look up recent articles on the re-appearance of Smithson’s Spiral Jetty and current plans for its preservation.
 
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7.2 Conceptualism   7.2.1 Conceptual Art   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Conceptual Art” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Conceptual Art” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Conceptual art, or Conceptualism, consists of artwork in which far greater emphasis is placed on the idea behind the work as opposed to formal or aesthetic issues. Conceptual works can focus on the absence of something, or may even be completely hidden from view. Cite examples from the Major Works section that fit these descriptions.  Do you agree that the idea itself can be a piece of art?

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7.2.2 Sol LeWitt   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Sol LeWitt” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Sol LeWitt”
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Sol LeWitt is considered by many to be the quintessential Conceptual artist, not just in the way he executed an idea, but also in the process by which his art is created and re-created. In this regard, LeWitt is less a traditional visual artist and more an artist-architect. While reading about LeWitt’s life and art, consider the role of the architect in the construction of a building (or other structure), and identify how this role applies to LeWitt and his work. As an option, you may consider reading Sol LeWitt’s “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” for additional context.
 
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  • Reading: ddooss.org: Sol LeWitt’s “Paragraph on Conceptual Art” Link: ddooss.org: Sol LeWitt’s Paragraphs on Conceptual Art”
     
    Instructions: Please read the linked page in full.
     
    NOTE: This is an OPTIONAL READING, and is not factored into the time advisory for this subunit.
     
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7.2.3 Joseph Beuys   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Joseph Beuys” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Joseph Beuys” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Beuys had a number of fascinating and original ideas about art he routinely and publicly expressed, either in writing or through his own artistic practice. One particular belief he held was that “every human being is an artist.” While reading, take note of any references to Beuys’s distinctive beliefs and life experiences, citing specific examples, and consider how these informed his art. Additionally, consider Beuys’s consistent use of fat and felt in his work and how this relates to his conceptual work.
 
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7.2.4 John Baldessari   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “John Baldessari” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “John Baldessari” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Baldessari’s art is famous for its self-effacing, sardonic, and often absurd elements and content. One particular concept in Baldessari’s art was his removal of artistic authorship from his work, often commissioning other people to produce and complete his art (a practice also deployed by LeWitt). Consider what it means for a work to have artistic authorship. Additionally, look closely at Baldessari’s Major Works and note the diversity of media that he has employed, including word-based art, a particular brand of Conceptual art for which Baldessari is well known. As an option, you should consider reading philosopher and critic Roland Barthes’s essay, “The Death of the Author.”
 
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  • Reading: Constant Association for Art and Media: Roland Barthe’s “The Death of the Author” Link: Constant Association for Art and Media: Roland Barthe’s “The Death of the Author”
     
    Instructions: Please read the linked page in full.
     
    NOTE: This is an OPTIONAL READING, and is not factored into the time advisory for this subunit.
     
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7.3 Performance Art, Feminist art and Fluxus   7.3.1 Performance Art   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Performance art” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Performance art” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Performance art, much like Conceptualism or Post-Minimalism, is defined by its vastness and diversity of artistic approaches, on the part of individuals and groups alike. Identify the different types of Performance art (i.e., “Happenings”), the artists or artist groups associated with each, and consider how this art form is directly tied to other art movement such as Dada, action painting, and Process Art. While reading this page, you may wish to locate as many references as possible to other art forms from which Performance artists derive their influence.
 
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7.3.2 Happenings   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Happenings” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Happenings” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Happenings are a form of performance art that incorporated elements of chance, crowd participation, and improvisation. While reading, note references to why these qualities were important to the movement and any parallels between Happenings and the Fluxus movement. Additionally, take note of the artists associated with Happenings and their individual contributions.

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7.3.3 Allan Kaprow   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Allan Kaprow” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Allan Kaprow” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Allan Kaprow is renowned for his pioneering role in Happenings, both in creating them and coining the term for the new art form. Even though Kaprow was a performance-based artist as opposed to a fine artist (i.e., painting and sculpture), his art was directly influenced by the Abstract Expressionist action painters.  While reading about Kaprow and Happenings, note any references that draw a parallel between these two seemingly unconnected artistic approaches, as well as between Kaprow and Jackson Pollock.
 
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7.3.4 Marina Abramovi?   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Marina Abramovi?” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Marina Abramovi?” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Marina Abramovi? is known for performance pieces that are physically and emotionally demanding, often requiring a great amount of endurance, and, in at least a few instances, caused severe damage to her own body. While reading this page, note any references to Abramovi?’s inspiration for this body of work, her artistic influences, and her motivation for placing herself in dangerous circumstances. Additionally, identify Abramovi?’s reason for wanting to record and re-create many of her performances (either using herself or other performers), as opposed to other performance artists, who prefer the opposite.
 
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7.4 Feminist Art   7.4.1 Feminist Art   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Terms and Concepts: “Feminist Art” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Feminist Art” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full.
 
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7.4.2 Judy Chicago   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Judy Chicago” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Judy Chicago” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full.
 
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7.4.3 Carolee Schneemann   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Carolee Schneemann” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Carolee Schneemann” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full.
 
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7.5 Neo-Expressionism   7.5.1 Neo-Expressionism   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Neo-Expressionism” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Neo-Expressionism” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Following the demise of Abstract Expressionism, the medium of painting grew increasingly out of favor in place of avant-garde movements and techniques that employed assemblage, concept-based practices, performance, and other forms that challenged the boundaries of modern art. Neo-Expressionism and the artists associated with it represented a kind of “return to basics,” by focusing strictly on two-dimensional artwork. Note the number of preceding modern movements that informed the Neo-Expressionist artists. Additionally, look at the Major Works and identify key differences between this style and those of Expressionism and Abstract Expressionism.
 
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7.5.2 Georg Baselitz   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Georg Baselitz” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Georg Baselitz” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. If one considers Neo-Expressionism the revival of early-20th-century Germany Expressionism, Baselitz is at the center of this discussion. Identify key characteristics of Baselitz’s painting (style, technique, palette) that recall its Expressionist predecessor, while noting key similarities and differences between the two. Feel free to revisit some of the artists from Unit 3.4.
 
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7.5.3 Julian Schnabel   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Julian Schnabel” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Julian Schnabel” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Schnabel has claimed that with his work he creates an emotional state in which the viewer can enter and become engulfed. While reading this page and looking at his Major Works, consider again the central ideas of Neo-Expressionism, and how Schnabel’s perspective relates to the movement’s key objectives. Additionally, while looking at his works, consider the specific emotions the artist is expressing and/or trying to elicit from the viewer. In your opinion, does he succeed?

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7.5.4 Jean-Michel Basquiat   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Jean-Michael Basquiat” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Jean-Michel Basquiat” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Few artists in history have risen to celebrity so fast, and been in such high demand, only to die so young, as Jean-Michel Basquiat. Much of Basquiat’s work was informed by his experience and proficiency as a graffiti artist (a relatively new concept at that time), and by his close friendship with Andy Warhol. Look closely at Basquiat’s Major Works and take note of how his art changed over the course of his career. Identify specific examples of graffiti and Pop Art in his work, and any other artistic styles that you can identify.
 
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  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation's "Unit 7 Quiz" Link: The Saylor Foundation's "Unit 7 Quiz" (PDF)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above to download this assessment.  Please complete all of the questions for the Unit 7 Quiz, and then check your answers against the Saylor Foundation's "Answer Key to Unit 7 Quiz." (PDF) You should spend approximately 15 minutes completing this quiz.