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ARTH209: 20th Century Art

Unit 15: Themes in Late 20th-Century and early 21st Century Art   The art produced in the closing decades of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st century continues to emphasize many of the themes we’ve explored in this course: art’s relationship to the changes and stresses of contemporary life, the role of the artist, experimentation and innovation in materials and processes, and the desire to destroy old oppositions (such as high art versus low culture, male versus female, spiritual versus material, and objectivity versus subjectivity).
 
This era has been characterized as one that has a more global perspective on art and culture, one that no longer privileges the art of the West over that of all the rest. This new perspective is the result of a global market economy as well as the phenomenal growth in the Internet and related technologies, such as personal websites, smart phones, and social networking sites.
 
This unit explores a few of the major artists of this period. As you consider their works, look for similarities and differences with the art of the earlier 20th century. What connections can you find with earlier themes in modern or postmodern art? What is new in the art of the later 20th century? Does your newly gained knowledge of 20th-century art help you to interpret the art of the current moment?

Unit 15 Time Advisory
Completing this should take approximately 6 hours.

☐    Subunit 15.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 15.2: 3 hours

Unit15 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- discuss the contributions of specific artists to late 20th-century and early 21st-century art; - identify the similarities and differences between contemporary art and the art of the earlier 20th century; and - identify the reasons for a shift from a Western to a more global perspective in contemporary art.

15.1 Neo-Expressionism   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation: Justin Wolf’s “Neo-Expressionism” Link: The Art Story Foundation: Justin Wolf’s “Neo-Expressionism” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this essay, and then click on the images under “Works of Art” at the top right of the webpage to read descriptions of these works. Then click on “Detail View” under Georg Baselitz and Jean-Michel Basquiat from the menu on the right side of the page to read more about these artists. Click on “More” after the artist biography sections of these essays. As you read this material, think about how these works and the artists’ goals compare to those of the earlier German Expressionists covered in subunits 3.2.1 and 3.2.2.
 
Reading this material should take approximately 2 hours.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Ian Alteveer’s “Anselm Kiefer (born 1945)” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Ian Alteveer’s “Anselm Kiefer (born 1945)” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this page, and then click on each of the images at the top of the page to see larger illustrations of Kiefer’s work and to read brief descriptions.
     
    Reading this material should take approximately 1 hour.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

15.2 From the Late 20th Century into the Early 21st Century   15.2.1 Gerhard Richter   - Web Media: The ArtStory: “Gerhard Richter” Link: The ArtStory: “Gerhard Richter” (HTML and YouTube)
 
Instructions: Read the essay and remember to click on “More” after “Gerhard Richter Biography.” Click on each of the images under “Analysis of Gerhard Richter’s Art Works” at the top right of the page to read about individual works. Then click on “Gerhard Richter: ‘A Painter in a Photographic Age’” under “Video Clips” from the menu on the right side of the page and watch the video. How do these paintings by Richter play with the conventions and meanings of photography?
 
Reading this material, watching the video, and answering the question should take approximately 1 hour.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

15.2.2 Damien Hirst   - Web Media: Tate Modern: “Damien Hirst, for the Love of God” Link: Tate Modern: “Damien Hirst, for the Love of God” (Flash)
 
Instructions: Watch this video. How does this work comment on mortality? What does it suggest about art’s relationship to a commodity market?
 
Watching this video should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

15.2.3 Cai Guo-Qiang   - Web Media: PBS: Art21: “Cai Guo-Qiang” Link: PBS: Art21: “Cai Guo-Qiang” (HTML and Flash)
 
Instructions: Read the brief essay, and then click on the play button to watch this video. What do Cai’s works suggest about power? How do they comment on ideas of beauty or violence? What relationship does Cai see between his works with gunpowder and traditional Chinese painting?
 
Reading this essay, watching the video, and answering the questions should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

15.2.4 Takashi Murakami   - Reading: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation: “Murakami” Link: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation: “Murakami” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this page as an introduction to the work of Takashi Murakami. As you read, think about how Murakami’s works compare to those of the earlier British and American Pop artists discussed in Unit 8.
 
Reading this essay should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: itsliquid: “Featured Artist: Takashi Murakami” Link: itsliquid: “Featured Artist: Takashi Murakami” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this essay, which contains good illustrations of several of Murakami’s best-known works.
     
    Reading this essay should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

15.2.5 Art in the 21st Century   - Reading: Khan Academy’s SmartHistory: “Art in the 21st Century” Link: Khan Academy’s SmartHistory: “Art in the 21st Century” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this essay. As you do, consider the similarities and differences between 20th-century and 21st-century art.
 
Reading this essay should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareALike 3.0 United States License. It is attributed to Khan Academy. 

  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “ARTH209 Unit 15 Quiz” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “ARTH209 Unit 15 Quiz” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Complete this assessment to gauge your understanding of the topics covered in this unit. The correct answers will be displayed when you click the “Submit” button.

    Completing the quiz and reviewing, if necessary, should take approximately 30 minutes.

Final Exam   - Final Exam: The Saylor Foundation’s “ARTH209 Final Exam” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “ARTH209 Final Exam”

 Instructions: You must be logged into your Saylor Foundation School
account in order to access this exam. If you do not yet have an
account, you will be able to create one, free of charge, after
clicking the link.