Since 1945 we have witnessed a number of artistic developments: the rise and fall of abstract expressionism, the appearance of pop art and minimalism, the extension into earth, body, and conceptual art, the movement toward performance, installation, public art, new media, appropriation, social practice, institutional critique as well as the always dramatic "death" and return of painting. Amidst all these transformations, how does contemporary art continue to make meaning, communicate, and become significant to us? This course is a specialized survey of art produced after World War II. The first half of the course, from 1945 to 1989, will focus on artworks mainly produced in the United States and Europe during the Cold War. In the second half of the course, from 1989 to the present, we will widen our view, both in terms of geography and media, to consider the expanding definition of recent art produced in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. To this end, we will investigate the meaning of postmodernism as a theory, an aesthetic notion, a politics, and a periodization. The objective of the course is to gain a sense of the major ideas, movements, and figures in contemporary art, as well as a better understanding of the social, cultural, and intellectual contexts in which these objects and ideas have emerged. Weekly readings will include critical and contextual materials such as artists' statements, newspaper and magazine articles, theoretical texts, and contemporary art historical commentary.