Modern and Contemporary Art: Key Interpretations

Instructor: Riccardo Marchi

In this seminar we read interpretations of modern and contemporary art that for their innovative approaches, lines of questioning and claims count among the most influential in the field. Authors include critics and scholars Clement Greenberg, T.J. Clark, Griselda Pollock, Michael Fried, Rosalind Krauss, Leo Steinberg, Peter B├╝rger, Hal Foster, Benjamin Buchloh, Yve-Alain Bois, Kobena Mercer, and Okwui Enwezor. As we read their texts, we study a wide range of artists and mediums, come to terms with broad issues such as modernism, modernity, postmodernism, the avant-garde and the neo-avant-garde, and consider critical lenses as diverse as formalism, the social history of art, feminism, the analysis of the beholder, semiotics, psychoanalysis, race, queer identity and postcolonial critique.

In studying these interpretations, we pay close attention to the questions their authors posed and to the way they answered them; we analyze what constitutes evidence in their arguments; and we consider what aspects of artistic production these interpretations enable us to understand better and what aspects, instead, they might have left in need of further investigation. By means of our work, we will learn about central debates and figures in our discipline, but above all discuss what it means to try to understand modern and contemporary art, and what remains to be done in this exciting enterprise.