Fall 2022 Course Highlight | Interpreting Contemporary Art

Professor Daniel Spaulding will be teaching AH 409: Interpreting Contemporary Art, MW 5:30–6:45pm, during the fall 2022 semester. Sophomore standing, humanities breadth, and L&S credit. Enroll here.Description: This course provides an introduction to global art from the 1960s to the present, as well as to the various theories that have been used to interpret this art. The tools of art history were mostly forged about a hundred years ago, when approaches such as formalism and iconography emerged. Although contemporaneous with artistic modernism, these tools were designed to study art of the much more distant past: the Renaissance or Middle Ages, preeminently. The very notion of “contemporary art history seems to be paradoxical, then. How can we write a “history of something that isn’t yet historical of something that isn’t yet safely in the past? Of course, art historians do address newer art; indeed, in recent decades contemporary art (usually defined, somewhat arbitrarily, as a period stretching from the 1960s to the present) has been the fastest-growing field of art history, by far. This course is meant to provide an overview of the ways art historians, critics, theorists, and artists themselves have attempted to make sense of the art of our time. In the process, emergent social, political, and cultural conflicts will make themselves felt as the stuff of art (in particular, issues of race, decolonization, gender, sexuality, and class). Above all we will follow the lead of artists. We will try to figure out what fascinates them, how they work, and how they intervene in the world.