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Elaine O'Brien

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Art 109 :: Modern Art

Let us hope that the true seekers may grant us the extraordinary
delight of celebrating the advent of the New!
—Baudelaire (Paris Salon of 1845)

No, painting was not invented to decorate houses. It is an instrument
of war for attack and defense against the enemy.
—Picasso (1945)

Art 109, Fall, 2012
TuTh 12:00PM - 1:15PM
Kadema 145
Professor: Elaine O'Brien
Office: Kadema Hall 190
Hours: Tu 3-5; W 6-7 (and by appt.)
Email: eobrien@csus.edu

Course Description:

This is a survey of avant-garde modern art, primarily the art of Europe and the United States, from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.  We will see how the aesthetic of newness, originality, anti-academicism, and radical formal invention characteristic of avant-garde modernism was rooted in the deep-seated societal changes and values that defined modernity: the rise to power of the middle classes, secularism, positivism, faith in “progress,” individualism, and capitalism, which released the forces of modernization – industrialization, urbanization, colonialism – on the world.

After defining “Modern” art and “Modernism,” the course begins with the emergence of the avant-garde in the nineteenth-century with Realism, Impressionism, Expressionism, and Symbolism.  Most time is spent on the astonishingly creative years between 1907 and 1914 just prior to the First World War when Cubism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Constructivism, Dada fundamentally reinvented the vocabulary of Western art. We then consider major works and concepts of art created between the World Wars, including the Bauhaus, Mexican Muralism, Social Realism, and Surrealism.  The course concludes with American Abstract Expressionism and European Existentialism of the World War II era.

Prerequisites: Upper-division standing and Art 1B, or equivalent with instructor approval


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