Critical Theory/Art History 2

« Back to course listings


Taught over two semesters, this seminar provides an introduction to key concepts in art history, theory and criticism in relation to current social, political and philosophical concerns. Its goal is to bring students into contact with primary texts relevant to the theory and practice of art today, to imagine affinities and conversations across the geography of the 20th Century. Seminars will often be devoted to a single, indicative exhibition or body of work that will serve as a focus for the larger theoretical issues at hand.In 1971, Allan Kaprow claimed that the ascendancy of "non-art" and "anti-art" had created a crisis for producers of what he called "Art art." For Kaprow, the only response was the development of "un-art": activities premised on the destruction, transcendence, or radical expansion of traditional conceptions of art's autonomy. Kaprow's call was prescient and anticipated many important subsequent developments, ranging from alternative broadcasting and biopolitical activism to discursive biennials, New Institutionalism, and the phenomenon of artistic research. This seminar will seek to evaluate this increase in the heteronomy of art through the lens of exhibition history, considering such a shift as a problem for curators. Among the exhibitions we will analyze are Group Material's Democracy, Okwui Enwezor's Documenta 11, united nations plaza's Night School, and the ongoing research initiative Former West.