Art History 245
Art Since the 1940s
Room: Gamble Auditorium, Art 106B
Mon and Wed, 8:35-9:50
Fall 2006

Anthony W. Lee
Office: Art 209, x2243, awlee
Office hours:
Wed, 4-5, and by appt.



This course traces some of the different paths of painting, sculpture, and photography in the United States and, less so, Western Europe since World War II. Initially, many of these paths traced a relationship with the “crisis of modernism,” but increasingly, they have taken on a different vitality, drawing energy from a wide variety of postmodern and postcolonial subjects and debates, especially identity and transnational politics. Can something that can be identified as an avant-garde practice exist in such a context? What kinds of questions are appropriate to ask about works that stridently attempt to suspend the very category of art? To help answer these and other questions, we will try to become comfortable with the shifting language of art and, equally important, link art to the pressing and often dramatic cultural and political issues arising in late 20c western society. In addition, we will read and assess statements by art historians, critics, and artists.



A reader of essays, available at Art and Art History Department main office, Art 201.

In addition, a website, consisting of the syllabus and key images from the lectures, is available for this course. To access the site, click on the main department page, then “courses,” then “art history 245.” The images are roughly compiled into weekly sets. You should consult these sets frequently.


Requirements and Evaluative Criteria

There are four major requirements for the course: a midterm, class participation, a paper, and a final. Each is valued at a quarter of the final grade.

Class and Reading Schedule
All readings can be found in the course reader.

Week 1
Sept 8



Week 2
Sept 11/13

Pre-War Art and Culture

Read: H. H. Arnason, “American Scene Painting,” “Recording American Life in the 1930s,” “The Mexican Muralists,” “Toward Abstract Art”; Meyer Schapiro, “The Social Bases of Art”


Week 3
Sept 18/20

Modernist Paradigms and the New York School

Read: H. H. Arnason, “Abstract Expressionism and the New American Sculpture”; Clement Greenberg, “Avant-Garde and Kitsch”; Clement Greenberg, “Modernist Painting”; T. J. Clark, “Clement Greenberg’s Theory of Art”

Week 4
Sept 25/27

High Modernism and the Cold War

Read: David and Cecile Shapiro, “Abstract Expressionism and the Politics of Apolitical Painting”

Week 5

Oct 4

no class Mon 10/2

The Beats

Read: Jonathan Fineberg, “A Coney Island of the Mind,” “Robert Rauschenberg,” “Jasper Johns”


Week 6

Oct 11

no class mon 10/9
(Fall Break)

Pop and the Popular

Read: Lawrence Alloway, “The Arts and the Mass Media”; Claes Oldenburg, “I Am for an Art . . . “; Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”; Andreas Huyssen, “The Cultural Politics of Pop”


Week 7
Oct 16/18

Review on Monday, Midterm on Wednesday


Week 8
Oct 23/25

Warhol's Achievement

Read: Andy Warhol, “Warhol in His Own Words: Untitled Statements,” “Interview with Gene Swenson”


Week 9
Oct 30/Nov 1

New Documents in Photography

Read: H. H. Arnason, “The Snapshot Aesthetic in American Photography,” Susan Sontag, “America, Seen Through Photographs, Darkly”


Week 10
Nov 6/8

Minimalism, Art, and Objecthood

Read: H. H. Arnason, “Modernism vs. Minimalism”; Michael Fried, “Art and Objecthood”; Anna Chave, “Minimalism and the Rhetoric of Power”

Final paper assignmnet distributed

Week 11
Nov 13/15

Performance and The Politics of Representation

Read: Daniel Bell, “Modernism and Capitalism”

Week 12

Nov 20

no class 11/22 (Thanksgiving Break)

The Counter Public Sphere

Read: H. H. Arnason, “Earth and Site Works”; Robert Smithson, “Spiral Jetty”; Michael Heizer, Dennis Oppenheim, Robert Smithson, “Discussion”; Hans Haacke, “Museums, Managers of Consciousness”
Week 13
Nov 27/29
Identity Politics

Read: Jonathan Fineberg, “Art and Feminism”; Miriam Schapiro and Melissa Meyer, “Waste Not Want Not: An Inquiry into What Women Saved and Assembled—Femmage”; Cindy Sherman, “Untitled Statement,” “Interview with Els Barents”
Week 14 Dec 4/6

Postmodern Strategies

No readings this week. Polish those papers!

Week 15
Dec 11/13


Papers due


Last modified on: Monday, 12/04/2006 10:09 AM