University of Notre Dame

Survey of Early 20th Century Modernism

ARHI 20443

This course examines European and American art of the late 19th c. to mid 20th c. Among the various developments we will study include abstraction, the incorporation of African and Oceanic arts into vanguard production, the emergence of “anti-art” actions, and the organization of artists into a succession of named movements unprecedented in the Western tradition. Students will also follow the advents of new mediums such as collage, photomontage, experimental film, early performance, and installation. This course will also examine how these developments were given shape by their various cultural and political contexts including mass production, mechanized warfare, the rise of Fascism and Communism, and the attempts of the avant-garde to refashion modernism in the wake of World War II. Among the themes we will follow include the increased questioning and demotion of vision in modernity, the fascination with the “primitive” other, the new roles of the artist such as publicist, exhibition organizer, and manifesto writer, and the potential of art to act as a social and political catalyst.

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