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20th Century Art

iTunes U


The Saylor Foundation


Saylor Foundation, Unknown, Melissa Krein, Apple Distinguished Educators, E.A. Rizzo




Purpose of Course This course explores the history of the artistic developments of the 20th century in Western Europe and the United States. The art of this period is characterized by extraordinary experimentation and innovation in styles, materials, techniques, and modes of dissemination. In addition to painting and sculpture, the 20thcentury witnessed the rise in popularity of photography, collage, montage, installations, earth art, performance, and conceptual art. Artists were sometimes inspired by the works of past masters but also often by contemporary changes in intellectual thought and social conditions. Therefore, we will examine the intellectual and cultural beliefs that this art both reflects and helped shape. Despite the great variety of artistic styles and theories that we will examine, a number of important themes consistently recur. If you keep them in mind as you progress through the course, you will find it easier to organize your thoughts and make meaningful comparisons among various artists, movements, and art works. These themes include: reactions to the conditions of modern life (such as urbanism, industrialism, secularization, new technologies, colonialism, and identity politics); a shift from objectivity to subjectivity that includes a movement away from the naturalistic representation of objects in the world to a more subjective, abstracted depiction of ideas or feelings; the search for a meaningful role for the artist in society as a spiritual or political leader as well as an aesthetic innovator; a desire to destroy old oppositions such as fine versus applied arts; male versus female; spiritual versus material; art versus life; and the Western self versus the non-Western other; and changes in the art market and the rise in importance of galleries and artist-run exhibitions. Material is presented in chronological order and covers the period between 1870 and the end of the 20thcentury. You will be introduced to a variety of terms that art historians use to describe styles, techniques, materials, and aesthetic concepts. Use the ArtLex Art Dictionary every time you come across a new term that needs clarification. Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.