CS 567 Warhol and After
Professor: Jennifer Burns
Schedule: Tuesdays 1:40-3:40, Center for Curatorial Studies.
This course examines the art of Andy Warhol (1928-1987) and its significance for artists working in the United States since the 1960s. Warhol's extended exploration of the means and matter of mass-produced culture -- in particular, his way of imbricating photography with painting and his interest in the commodity as subject -- has been quite influential for subsequent generations of artists. In the view of many critics and historians, that influence has been principally a destructive one, hastening the collapse of the avant-garde back into the dominant capitalist culture from which it emerged in the mid-nineteenth century as the voice of resistance and critique. Perhaps it is fair to say that Warhol's career marks the historical limit of a viable avant-garde in this country. Yet recent scholars have tended to assume that if we are to recuperate Warhol at all, we must be able to see him as an avant-garde artist. We will pursue an alternate course, searching out ways of reading his work that cast Warhol neither as subversive critic nor as passive celebrant of capitalist culture; in short, we will seek a model of art production and interpretation other than that provided by the idea of the avant-garde.
In the first part of the course, we will consider the charges against Warhol and two recent strategies for defending him as a vanguard figure. In these initial sessions, our focus will be on reading and understanding the critical framework through which Warhol's work has been received. Authors to be considered include Baxandall, Buchloh, Clark, Crow, Danto, Foster, Gramsci, Greenberg, Krauss, Schjeldahl, Silver, and Steinberg. Having set up this problematic, we will proceed with a protracted visual investigation of Warhol's work of the late 1950s and early 1960s. In these sessions, primacy will be given to our own encounters with the objects in question, with critical readings playing a supplementary role. Re-examining a few key works during each class meeting, we will pay close attention to the specific, indeed idiosyncratic, terms of Warhol's engagement with mass-produced culture. From these object-oriented sessions will emerge new ways of characterizing Warhol's project. The final part of the course will consist of student presentations: each student will select and investigate an artist "after Warhol" -- a figure in the contemporary art world whose work bears a significant relation to some aspect of Warhol's legacy.
The course objectives are thus twofold: 1) to familiarize students with the critical conversation surrounding Warhol's work and, specifically, the implications of that conversation for contemporary art practice; and 2) to give students extensive practice in looking at works of art and in writing cogently about that looking.
CS 569. A Critical History of Art from 1960 to 1990
Professor: Aruna D'Souza
Schedule: Wednesdays, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm, Center for Curatorial Studies.
By the end of the 1950s, the dominant discourse of Abstract Expressionism and the formalist criticism which subtended it were under widespread attack, ushering in a new era in artistic production that we may well call "contemporary." From the erudite references to Duchamp in the art of Jasper Johns, to the importation of popular culture into the precincts of high art by Pop Art, to the birth of activist art by feminist, black, and queer artists, to the performance-based strategies of Fluxus, to that novel hybrid of painting and sculpture known as Minimalism, the 1960s mark a shift of paradigms that continues to determine cultural practices today.
This course will survey major developments in American and European art from 1960 on, with special focus on the critical debates that have surrounded the demise of Greenbergian formalism; the possibilities of postmodernism posed by Pop and Minimalism; the European neo-avant-garde of Klein, Manzoni, and Beuys; Fluxus, Conceptual Art, and their derivatives; the rise of feminist art practices; the revival of traditional media in the reactionary climate of the 1970s and 1980s; and the return to critical strategies oriented around gender, race, and ethnicity in the early 1990s. We will read both historical and critical essays on these and other crucial moments in the art of the past 40 years, attempting to create a genealogy of current artistic practice. The most basic premise of the course is that one cannot look at the art of today without having some understanding of what came before. In the final term paper for the course, each student will be asked to choose an artist from the later 1990s and put his or her work in historical and critical context. While the historical and critical issues dealt with in the course will be those primarily of European and American art, students are encouraged to work on artists from non-Western contexts who relate to the issues at hand. In addition to the final term paper, students will be responsible for weekly reading assignments and will have two or three shorter writing exercises over the course of the semester.
CS 585. Institutional Critique and the Critical Analysis of the Artistic Field.
Professor: Andrea Fraser
Schedule: Tuesdays 10:30-12:30, Center for Curatorial Studies.
This course will introduce students to the critical analysis of the artistic field through artistic practices of "institutional critique" and the "reflexive" sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. Taking as its framework the "players" central to most art exhibitions, the course will be divided into five sections examining the positions of artists, curators, trustees, public sponsors, and corporate sponsors. Each section will begin with a theoretical discussion, based on the work of Bourdieu, of the interests and strategies that orient each of the "player's" activities as well as the dynamics of the relations among them. The course will then proceed to an examination of efforts by artists to develop critical "counter-practices." These will include the critique of artistic practice formulated by Daniel Buren, Michael Asher, and others; exhibitions curated and designed by Marcel Broodthaers, Christian Boltanski, Louise Lawler, Judith Barry, Fred Wilson, and others; and critical work on museum trustees and corporate sponsors by Andrea Fraser, Hans Haacke, and others. Readings and in-class discussions will be augmented by video presentations and guest speakers. Finally, each section will conclude with an analysis of the relevant aspect of a single "case-study" exhibition that students will work on over the course of the semester.
Course Requirements: In addition to weekly reading assignments and participation in class discussions, students will be required to make one in-class presentation on the exhibition "Sculpture Chicago: Culture in Action" (1993), curated by Mary Jane Jacob. (The complete archive of "Culture in Action" is housed in the CCS library.) Students will also be required to submit a fifteen-page paper at the end of the term on an exhibition of their choice. A five-page outline of the final paper will be due halfway through the term.
Readings: Principal readings will include The Field of Cultural Production and Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, both by Pierre Bourdieu; Free Exchange by Bourdieu and Hans Haacke; and Report: The EA-Generali Foundation by Andrea Fraser. Additional readings will include artists' writings, exhibition catalogues, and archival material on "Culture in Action." FONT SIZE=2>