Art 371 Syllabus
Contemporary Art: 1970 to Present
Spring 2017
Monday and Wednesday 2:30 to 3:45 PM
Instructor: Denise Johnson
Phone: 714.289.3569
Moulton Center 218

Office Hours by appointment
Monday & Wednesday
1 PM to 2:30 PM and 4 to 5:30 PM
10 AM to 11 AM


click here for a printable syllabus



Course Description

Art 371 explores the evolution of art since 1970 in Europe, America, and Asia. Traditional media, performance, video, and installation are discussed in light of post-modernist theory, feminist and Marxist criticism, and the impact of mass media and new technologies.

(Offered spring semester)

Objectives & Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the course will:


Learn major artists and movements in art from 1970 – Present;


Be able to identify and compare the aesthetic and philosophical characteristics associated with each of the major movements of art from 1970 to the present;


Become familiar with the resources in contemporary art that are available to be directly experienced in Southern California;


Analyze and evaluate the social, political, and technological influences upon the production of art in the late 20th century and early 21st century;


Learn the predominant theoretical ideologies that affect art movements of this period, and be able to recognize and apply them when looking at contemporary art;


Synthesize strategies in critical theory to write analyses of contemporary artworks.


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.


General Education Learning Outcomes
7AI Artistic Inquiry: students compose critical or creative works that embody or analyze conceptually an artistic form at a baccalaureate/pre-professional level.
7SI Social Inquiry: employs theories of how people frame and analyze social and/or historical phenomena.



Instructional Strategies
Students will work toward course objectives through: lecture presentations; student reports on readings, active and engaged participation in class discussions; in-class partner exercises; reading assignments; writing assignments; exams; viewing images, videos, and audio representations of work by women artists; and viewing of an off-campus exhibition that will require a commute, and may entail a parking fee, and/or entrance fee.



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

Foster, Krauss, Bois, Buchloh. Art Since 1900, vol. 2. Thames & Hudson. Third Edition. ISBN978050029723

Recommended Texts

Barnet, Sylvan. A Short Guide to Writing About Art. Boston: Pearson Education Inc. (any edition, 10th or 11th preferred)

A Short Guide to Writing About Art
Kristine Stiles. Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings. University of California Press: 2011.

Osborne, Richard and Dan Sturgis. Art Theory for Beginners. Hanover, New Hampshire: Steerforth Press, 2009.


Art Theory for Beginners
Jean Robertson. Themes of Contemporary Art: Visual Art after 1980 [Paperback] (2nd). Oxford University Press: 2009.



Major Study Units
  • Critiquing art history and its institutions
  • Postcolonialism
  • The Feminist movement
  • The posthuman body
    • Gaze Theory
  • The end of the avant-garde?
  • Postmodernism
  • Meta Modernism
    • Appropriation
  • Globalism
    • The Simulacra
  • New Genres
    • Identity politics
  • Critiques for the future
    • Culture Wars



Methods of Evaluation
Students will be evaluated 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 contemporary art from 1970 to the present. Students will be evaluated on the presentation of evidence that they have achieved the course objectives.

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 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.


Exams 30%

Students will demonstrate learning through two midterm exams worth 50 points each. Midterms will be taken online and outside of class on the course Blackboard page at A final examination in the form of a Socratic Circle will be worth 50 points and will be executed in class during our scheduled final exam period. Make-up quizzes cannot be accommodated, except under extenuating circumstances!


Visual Analysis 10%

Students will be asked to attend a professional exhibition including contemporary works made after 1970, relevant to our course of study this semester, and choose two works seen in person to analyze using the art historical methodologies learned in class. This assignment will require students to commute, pay for parking and/or an entrance fee. The Visual Analysis Paper will be worth 50 points.


Research Paper 50%

Over the course of the semester, you will be asked to identify an artist, body of work, or issue relevant to the study of contemporary art after 1970 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 and each student will be asked to share a rough draft of the paper with a fellow Art 371 student worth up to 35 points. The final Research Paper will be worth 200 points.


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.



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.



Assignment 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 disconnected from the world around them. Given the importance of engagement to the art historian’s task, 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 during class time when the devices are being used for the purpose of understanding Art 371 material.

Students found to be using laptops and tablets during class for activities other than those related to Art 371 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.

Please also be punctual! Students arriving 15 or more minutes after class begins should expect to be marked absent for the entire class session and may miss the departure of the class on arranged field trips. Students are asked to exchange contact information with their classmates to remain connected to the class as we travel to various destinations.

Respect is Key
We will often consider provocative, challenging, even vulgar subject matter in this class. It is assumed that each of us undertakes this learning endeavor with honorable intention and a commitment to understanding diverse perspectives and histories. When this is difficult for us, we agree to keep an open mind and to respect all views and identities, even those with which we are not able to concur. When this suits our viewpoint, we equally agree to openly consider ideas that may conflict with our own. While engaging in class activities, we agree to refrain from using derogatory, inflammatory, or otherwise disrespectful language. We do such, fully committed to the principles of academic freedom, holding “that the widest possible scope for freedom of expression is the foundation of an institution dedicated to vigorous inquiry, robust debate, and the continuous search for a proper balance between freedom and order,” “that censorship is always suspect, that intimidation is always repugnant, and that attempts to discourage constitutionally protected expression are antithetical to the central focus of the University's mission: education and discovery of new knowledge,” and that these principles are “accompanied by a corresponding principle of responsibility.” (From the Chapman University Faculty Manual, 2016)

Please submit coursework on Blackboard or Google Docs before the start of class on the day the assignment is due, even if you will need to miss class.

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 according to the needs of the class during the semester. Lectures & assignments will be posted on The Slide Projector and Blackboard. Updates will be announced in class, and modified on The Slide Projector, and on Blackboard.
Discussion Topic
Assignment & Reading Due
2nd Edition
3rd Edition
January 30
February 1

Institutional Critique
ARTISTS: Michael Asher, Hans Haacke, Daniel Buren, Douglas Huebler, Robert Smithson, Marcel Broodthaers

February 6

Performing the Era
ARTISTS: Bruce Nauman, Chris Burden, Vito Acconci, Viennse Actionists, Joan Jonas, Yoko Ono, Carolee Schneeman, Ana Mendieta, Marina Abramovic


Pages 576 - 580 & 644 - 653

February 8

Disrupting the Narrative
ARTISTS: Chicano/a Art Movement, Judy Chicago


Pages 654 - 659

February 13

The Personal is Political
ARTISTS: Mary Kelly, Suzanne Lacy, Judy Baca, Betye Saar, Hannah Wilke


Presentation and Research Paper Topic Report Due
Barnet Chapter 12

February 15
Pictures Generation
ARTISTS: Laurie Simmons, Louise Lawler, Sarah Charlesworth, Richard Prince, James Welling, James Casebere, Victor Burgin, Allen Sekula
Pages 668 - 675, 732 - 736, & Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema
February 20

Art in the Simulacrum
ARTISTS: Cindy Sherman, Sherrie Levine, Barbara Kruger, Robert Longo, Richard Prince, Nam June Paik


The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

February 22

Defining Postmodernism
ARTISTS: Julian Schnabel, Jenny Holzer, Laurie Anderson, Allan McCollum, Raymond Pettibon


Pages 698 - 706 & The Postmodern Condition

February 27

The Painterly Mess
ARTISTS: Basquiat, Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer, Eric Fischl, David Salle


Pages 714 - 718 Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism

March 1

ARTISTS: Rirkrit Tiravanija, Gabriel Orozco, Yinka Shonibare, David Hammons, Jimmie Durham, Fred Wilson, Renee Green, Mark Dion, Andrea Fraser


Pages 719 - 731 &
Art and the Postcolonial Imagination

Rachel Mason, AF 209 C, 7 to 9 PM
March 6

Acting Up and Boiling Over
ARTISTS: ACT UP, COLAB, Krzystof Wodiczko, Gran Fury, Group Material, David Wojnarowicz, Felix Gonzales Torres


Exam 1 Due
Pages 707 - 713

March 8
Culture Wars
ARTISTS: Andres Serrano, Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Serra, Karen Finley, Guerrilla Girls
March 13
Identity Politics
ARTISTS: Sally Mann, Catherine Opie, Nan Goldin, Kara Walker
Barnet Chapters 9, 11, 13 & 14
March 15

Turning the Tables
ARTISTS: Adrian Piper, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, Yinka Shonibare, Kara Walker, Ellen Gallagher

Pages 737 - 746 & 756 - 763
March 20
Spring Break
March 22
March 27

The Broken Body: Abjection
ARTISTS: Rona Pondick, Kiki Smith, Janine Antoni


Pages 747- 751 & The Impudence of Uttering: The Mother

March 29

The Broken Body: Regression
ARTISTS: Mike Kelly, Paul McCarthy, Robert Gober


Paper Plan Due
Barnet Chapter 7

April 3

Beyond the Frame
ARTISTS: Alfredo Jaar, Ken Gonzales Day, Matthew Barney, Christian Marclay


Pages 752 - 755 & 764 - 768

Bensussen Lecture
April 5

Meta Modernism
ARTISTS: Bo Bartlett, Jeff Wall, Sam Taylor-Wood


Pages 770 - 777

Margo Pawell, Beckman Hall 404, 7 to 9 PM
April 7
Art History Symposium, AF 209 B, 11 AM to 5:30 PM
April 10

Memory, History, and the Archive
ARTISTS: Sam Durant, Christian Boltanski, Millie Wilson, Ernest Arthur Bryant, Mikalene Thomas


Exam 2 Due
Pages 712 - 717

April 12
For the Love of God
ARTISTS: Chris Ofili, Ron Mueck, Marcus Harvey, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Tracey Emin, Jenny Saville
Pages 778 - 797
April 17

New Dimensions
ARTISTS: Nick Cave, Stephen Prina, Gordon Matta Clark, Chris Burden, William Kentridge, Bill Viola, Pipilotti Rist, Tony Oursler, Pierre Huyghe


Visual Analysis Paper Due
Pages 798 - 803

April 19

The Art Market
ARTISTS: Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Thomas Struth


Pages 804 - 817

April 24

After the Fall
ARTISTS: Jeff Wall, Andreas Gursky, Nina Berman


The Highest Degree of Illusion

April 26

Regarding the Pain of Others
ARTISTS: Nancy Spero, Harun Farocki, Thomas Hirschhorn, Conflict Café, Martin Kippenberger, Wade Guyton, R. H. Quaytman, Ashley Hunt, Sharon Hayes, Andrea Geyer, David Thorne


Pages 818 - 823
(browse) Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others

May 1



Research Paper Due

May 3

ARTISTS: Ai Wei Wei, Wang Guangyi, Zhang Huan, Wu Hung, Shirin Neshat, Wangetchi Mutu, Orlan, Cao Fei, Zackary Drucker


Pages 824 - 835

May 8

Everyday Rebellions
ARTISTS: Wangetchi Mutu, Andrea Bowers, Elana Mann, Micol Hebron, Edith Abeyta, Ferguson


Pages 836 - 841 & The Work of Art in the Age of Spectacular Reproduction

May 10




May 17
Socratic Circle Final Exam 8 to 10:30 AM



Important Dates
Late Registration
The last day to add this courses is Friday, February 10.
Drop Deadline
Students wishing to drop the course without record must do so by Friday, February 10. The last day to withdraw from a course, or change grading option to P/NP is Friday, April 14.
Final Exam
The in-class final for this course is mandatory, and will not be offered at an alternative date, except under extenuating circumstances. The instructor understands that the end of the academic year and travel come with much urgency and pressure. Nonetheless, the hours set aside for the final exam are a part of your earned credit and as such, are an important component of your grade.
Grades will be available no later than Sunday, May 29.



Olga Koumoundourous, Rainbow Couch, 2012.