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Last updated:

December 9, 2022


Unlimited Duration


This course includes:

Unlimited Duration

Badge on Completion

Certificate of completion

Unlimited Duration


This subject focuses on the objects, history, context, and critical discussion surrounding art since World War II.

Because of the burgeoning increase in art production, the course is necessarily selective. We will trace major developments and movements in art up to the present, primarily from the US; but we will also be looking at art from Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as art “on the margins” — art that has been overlooked by the mainstream critical press, but may have a broad cultural base in its own community. We will ask what function art serves in its various cultures of origin, and why art has been such a lightning rod for political issues around the world

Course Curriculum

  • Introduction: the aesthetic and ideological context for figuration vs. abstraction going into WWII Unlimited
  • Formalizing the unconscious Unlimited
  • “I am Nature:” Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. Unlimited
  • Gesture vs. Field: Willem de Kooning, Unlimited
  • Abstract expressionist sculpture: Unlimited
  • Rothko, Still, and the San Francisco school Unlimited
  • Body vs. Gesture in Europe Unlimited
  • John Cage, Robert Rauschenber, Jasper Johns, and the question of a homosexual aesthetic Unlimited
  • Bay Area figurative art Unlimited
  • The Beats; environments and happenings in the US (Fluxus begins) Unlimited
  • Post-painterly abstraction and formalist sculpture; Greenberg’s reign Unlimited
  • Frank Stella and Minmal art Unlimited
  • Warhol’s Factory Unlimited
  • The Independent Group (London); Unlimited
  • Early conceptual art: Sol LeWitt, Unlimited
  • Sculptors of land, poets of light Unlimited
  • Performance vs. Unlimited
  • From Smithson to Gordon Matta-Clark, Unlimited
  • Women buck the Canon Unlimited
  • Identity politics Unlimited
  • PoMo 1, appropriation art Unlimited
  • Installation art, Unlimited
  • In-class debate, Unlimited

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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