Art 370 Syllabus


Contemporary Art: 1945 to 1970
Lee Krasner, The Seasons, 1957
Fall 2016
Monday and Wednesday 2:30 to 3:45 pm
Instructor: Denise Johnson
Phone: 714.289.3569
Office & Hours
Moulton Center 218

noon - 2 pm
11:30 - 1 pm (by appointment)
1 to 2 pm
11:30 - 1 pm


click here for a printable syllabus



Course Description

Surveys the major artistic developments in Europe, America, and Asia between the close of World War II and the emergence of postmodernism, including abstract expressionism, pop art, minimalism, conceptualism, and site-specific art.

(Offered fall semester, alternate years.)

Objectives & Outcomes
This course satisfies the 7AI and 7SI components of the General Education curriculum: students will compose critical or creative works that embody or analyze an artistic form, and students will employ theories of how people frame and analyze social and/or historical phenomena.
Course Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the course will:
Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the major artists, movements, and events that shaped contemporary art practice between 1945 and 1970;
Describe and discuss the formal/stylistic/material qualities of works of art produced between 1945 and 1970;
Discuss the relationship of art theories and critical debates to specific artists and art movements of the period;
Analyze the relationships that existed between innovations in artistic practice and the social, cultural, and political changes that took place in Europe and the United States between the end of World War II and the end of the Vietnam War.
Art History Program Learning Outcomes
Students will be able to:

write both descriptively and analytically about works of art in a variety of media;


write an independent research paper that uses visual analysis and scholarly research to develop and support a thesis;


conduct advanced art historical research using the full range of scholarly resources; and


recognize the theoretical concerns of art history and its allied disciplines and apply specific theoretical perspectives to their research projects.



Required Textbook

Foster, Krauss, Bois, Buchloh. Art Since 1900, vol. 2. Thames & Hudson.

Art Since 1900



Materials on Blackboard

Selected essays will be posted to the Art 370 Assignments page at (see weekly schedule)

Additionally, two exams will be taken outside of class on Blackboard.



Recommended Texts
Barnet, Sylvan. A Short Guide to Writing About Art. Boston: Pearson Education Inc. (any edition, 10th or 11th preferred).
D’Alleva, Anne. Methods & Theories of Art History. Second ed. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2012.
Hopkins, David. After Modern Art, 1945 - 2000. Oxford University Press: 2000.
Osborne, Richard and Dan Sturgis. Art Theory For Beginners. Second ed. Danbury, Connecticut: For Beginners LLC, 2009.
Robertson, Jean. Themes of Contemporary Art: Visual Art after 1980. Second ed. Oxford University Press: newest edition.
Stiles, Kristine. Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.



Instructional Website
This class will be taught from the instructional website The Slide Projector at, Lecture presentations, assignments, and other course materials will be available for you at this site and you will need to access it regularly.



Instructional Strategies
Students will work toward course objectives through: lectures; student reports on readings, active participation in class discussions; in class partner exercises; reading assignments; writing assignments; exams; viewing images, videos, and audio representations of art from the end of WWII to the beginning of the Vietnam War; and viewing of an off-campus exhibition that will require a commute, and may entail a parking fee, and/or entrance fee.
Major Study Units
Modernism & the avant-garde

• Neo Dada

• Cubism

• Semiotics

• Surrealism

Social Realism

• Pop Art

• Los Tres Grandes

• West Coast Funk


• Happenings

European emigres
Nouveaux Realistes
New York becomes the center

• Abstract Expressionism

• Anti Form


• Conceptualism

• Taschisme

Situationists International

• Art Brut

Color Field
The Beat Generation

• Performance Art

• The Atomic Age



Methods of Evaluation

Students will be evaluated on the presentation of evidence that they have achieved the course objectives; on the frequency and quality of their contributions to in-class discussion; on their ability to make oral and written critical observations about the artists, movements, and concepts presented in the course; on the quality of the writing they present for homework assignments; and on their ability to demonstrate growth in their understanding and application of the history and theory of modern art from WWII to the end of the Vietnam War.

There are 500 points possible, which will be earned through the following graded components:


Class Participation - 10%

Students will earn up to 50 participation points through the following activities:

Actively and consistently contributing to in-class discussions and applying theoretical ideas to works to earn up to 15 participation points.


Voluntarily reporting on assigned readings during class to earn up to 10 participation points through meaningful contributions to multiple conversations over the semester.


Attending one lecture in the Visual Thinker Lecture Series (two contemporary artist lectures, and one Bensussen lecture) and submitting a VTLS Report worth 25 points. Please be reminded that Art and Art History majors are required by the department to attend all Visual Thinker Lectures and that the Art 370 assignment requires different documentation.


Visual Analysis Paper 15%

Students will be asked to see a professional exhibition in person featuring late modern works relevant to our course of study and made between 1945 and 1970, to analyze using the art historical methodologies learned in class. This assignment will require students to commute to a relevant venue off campus, pay for parking and/or an entrance fee. The Visual Analysis Paper is worth a maximum of 75 points.


Research Paper 53%

Over the course of the semester, you will be asked to identify an artist, body of work, or issue relevant to the study of modern art between WWII and the end of the Vietnam War in which to conduct research. You’ll be asked to write a paper in Chicago Manual of Style (no bibliography) that reflects skilled research techniques and demonstrates your ability to analyze works of art utilizing various art historical methodologies and theories.

To oversee progress on your research, a preparatory assignment worth 15 points will be submitted early in the semester. Additionally, each student will be asked to share a rough draft of the paper with a fellow Art 370 student. During this review, you will earn up to 50 points for correcting CMS citation errors, identifying key sections, and providing constructive feedback for improvement. The final Research Paper will be worth 200 points.


Exams 22%

Students will take two exams worth 30 points each, and a final exam worth 50 points of the final grade. Exams will be taken online and outside of class on the course Blackboard page at In progress exams can be saved, printed, and updated. However, once the exam has been submitted, answers cannot be edited. Make-up exams cannot be accommodated, except under extenuating circumstances!

The Final Exam will be taken in class during our scheduled exam period.


Extra Credit

Students are limited to earning a maximum of 25 points, 5% of the total points possible (500), in extra credit points during the semester. Any points earned above this cap will NOT be applied to the final grade.


Twenty-Five points of extra credit may be earned by creating a timeline for your Compendium of Knowledge designating the important periods studied this semester and including images and information on exemplary works in each period.

Points will be earned on writing assignments through committed consideration of the material, demonstration of learned concepts and language, and evidence of critical thinking. In addition to the individual requirements, each writing assignment will earn points based on rigorous analysis through the skilled application of the art historical methodologies, as well as pointed and thoughtful responses to the questions proposed.
100 to 97%
500 - 483 points

Writing demonstrates excellence in both articulation and critical thinking. Art historical methodologies are used thoughtfuly and with exceptional skill. All questions are answered thoroughly, and disussion points carry beyond basic responses with sophistication. Credible academic sources were employed to support the author's positions, and Chicago Manual of Style citation rules were carefully followed. The written assignment leaves little to no room for improvement, and demonstrates committed interest in the discipline.

A -
96 to 90%
482 - 448 points
B +
89 to 87%
447 - 433 points

Writing demonstrates clear focus and an above average consideration of the subject matter. While all questions have been answered, there is room for improvement in carrying the analysis and discussion beyond a basic response. The work exhibits potential for excellence however, a clearer application and understanding of the art historical methodologies is needed. Author has met the requirements for research and citations, but the stated positions could be significantly served by additional research.

86 to 84%
432 - 418 points
B -
83 to 80%
417 - 398 points
C +
79 to 77%
397 - 383 points

Most of the material is understood, but the focus is not entirely clear, and analysis is cursory. Question responses could be more fully realized, and the material, more thoroughly examined. Citation issues are present, little research was executed in support of the author's positions, and/or sources are not credible or academic. There are issues with language that make the writing somewhat difficult to understand.

76 to 74%
382 - 368 points
C -
73 to 70%
367 - 348 points
D +
69 to 67%
347 - 333 points

Lowest possible grade for a complete assignment submitted on time. Writing demonstrates little understanding or connection with the material and is flawed in content and form. Question responses do not provide evidence of critical thinking. Citation issues are present, no research was executed in support of the author's positions, and/or sources are not credible or academic. There are issues with language that make the writing very difficult to understand.

66 - 64%
332 - 318 points
D -
63 - 60%
317 - 298 points
< 59%
297 - 0

Work fails to meet any requirements satisfactorily.



Writing is incomplete but shows potential. Student is offered one additional class day to revise, add to, and re-submit the assignment.



Instructor Policies
Commitment to the Conversation

Conversation and debate will be central to the learning experience this semester. Art historians do not work in secluded spaces that are entirely disconnected from the world around them. Given the importance of engagement, students will be expected to fully commit to in-class dialogues and will agree to take a break from texting, emailing, and fulfilling requirements for courses other than our own, while in class. Laptop, tablet, and smart phone use will only be permitted for use in class when the devices are being used for the purpose of understanding Art 370 material.

Students found to be using laptops and tablets during class for activities other than those related to Art 370 may be asked to leave class until their full attention can be directed to our course material.


Regular attendance is mandatory. You are permitted two unexcused absence without damage to your grade. More than two missed classes will potentially lower your grade, and missing four or more classes will put you at risk of failing the class.

Please also be punctual! Students arriving 15 or more minutes after class begins should expect to be marked absent for the entire class session.

Respect is Key
We will often consider provocative, challenging, even vulgar subject matter in this class and must therefore agree to respect each other’s views and identities. Our diverse backgrounds and opinions are assets and no student shall be made to feel inferior or uncomfortable because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or physical/ intellectual abilities.
Paper Please

Please submit coursework that is due at the beginning of class.

As a courtesy, the instructor will accept emailed assignments as receipt of having turned in an assignment on time, as long as the assignment has been emailed to the instructor as a pdf BEFORE the start of the class session that the assignment is due. The instructor will expect a paper copy of the emailed assignment to be submitted by the next class session for grading. Assignments submitted in this fashion may require additional time for grading. If you know you will be absent, please make arrangements with a fellow student to submit coursework on the day it is due.

Late Assignments
You may submit one assignment, one class day late. The late assignment will not be marked down, however any assignments turned in more than one class late, or in addition to the one accepted assignment, will only receive credit at the digression of the instructor.


Chapman University Policies
Academic Integrity Policy
Chapman University is a community of scholars which emphasizes the mutual responsibility of all members to seek knowledge honestly and in good faith. Students are responsible for doing their own work, and for submitting coursework completed this semester, for this class. Academic dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated anywhere in the university. Academic dishonesty of any kind will be subject to sanction by the instructor/administrator and referral to the university's Academic Integrity Committee, which may impose additional sanctions up to and including expulsion. Please see the full description of Chapman University's policy on Academic Integrity at
Students with Disabilities
In compliance with ADA guidelines, students who have any condition, either permanent or temporary, that might affect their ability to perform in this class are encouraged to inform the instructor at the beginning of the term. Upon recommendation of the Center for Academic Success, adaptations of teaching methods, class materials, including text and reading materials or testing may be made as needed to provide for equitable participation.
Equity and Diversity Policy

Chapman University is committed to ensuring equality and valuing diversity. Students and professors are reminded to show respect at all times as outlined in Chapman’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy: at Any violations of this policy should be discussed with the professor, the Dean of Students and/or otherwise reported in accordance with this policy.



Class Schedule and Required Reading
This is a tentative schedule that may change. Assignment directions and due dates will be posted on The Slide Projector. Updates will be announced in class, on lecture presentations, and modified on the Syllabus page of The Slide Projector.
Discussion Topic
Assignment & Reading Due
August 29
August 31
The Modern Avant-Garde
September 5

Labor Day - No Class

September 7
American Art Before WWII
Pages 363 - 368
September 12
Emigres/Universal Voices
Pages 375 - 386
September 14
New York Becomes the Center
Topic Report
September 19
Breaking It Up
Pages 387 - 391 & Is he the greatest
September 21
A Problem for Critics
September 26
Existential Angst
Pages 400 - 405, 459 - 463, & 502 - 507
September 28
Seeking Transcendence
Exam 1
October 3
Pages 369 - 374 & 392 - 397
October 5
Prowling in the Wilderness
Pages 406 - 410, 464 - 469 &
Intro to The Americans
October 10
The Gap in Between
October 12
Sign of the Times
Pages 442 - 448, 483 - 487
Paper Plan
October 17
Consuming America
Pages 423 - 428, 470 - 476 & When Pop Turned the World Upside Down
October 19
Through the Surface
Pages 453 - 458, 513 - 518
October 24
Action vs. Abstraction
October 26
Leaping into Voids
Pages 411 - 416, 449 - 452, 519 - 523 & 559 - 564
Visual Analysis
October 31
Pages 436 - 441 & 488 - 501
November 2
Pages 508 - 512 & Art and Objecthood
Exam 2
November 7
Anti Form
Pages 536 - 539, 578 - 581 & Anti Form
November 9
Depoliticized Media Spectacle
Pages 429 - 435, 530 - 535 &
browse Society of the Spectacle
November 14

Considering Site & Concept

Pages 549 - 552 & 565 - 577
November 16
Process Art
Pages 544 - 548 & 553 - 558
Rough Draft Share
November 21
Thanksgiving Recess
November 23
November 28
Art in Flux
Pages 524 - 529
November 30
Performing the Body
Research Paper
December 5
Moving Towards Collapse
Pages 540 - 543
December 7
The End of the Avant-Garde?
December 13
Final Exam to be taken in class 1:30 to 4 pm



Asger Jorn, The Avant-Garde Doesn't Give Up, 1962.