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Art and Society Between 1900 and the Present


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: Professor Leslie Topp
  • Assessment: a 1000-word primary source analysis (40%) and 2500-word essay (60%)

Module description

The module focuses on selected case studies designed to illuminate artists' critical engagement with specific philosophical and political debates, and considers how these debates intersect with aesthetic considerations in different cultural contexts. It is, then, less a broad survey of twentieth-century artists and schools and more a consideration of key aesthetic, philosophical and political ideas and debates within twentieth-century art. It builds on the Level 4 module Art History: A Survey, which introduced a broad range of art, design and curatorial practices from both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

indicative module syllabus

Art and Politics in Latin America

  • Revolution and The Rise of Muralism in Mexico
  • Visualising the Nation through Photography and Film
  • Art and Dictatorship in the Southern Cone

Artists and Museums

  • Early Interventions: Marcel Duchamp
  • Political Considerations: Hans Haacke
  • Interventions: Guerrilla Girls and Fred Wilson

Photography and the Exhibition

  • Photography as Fine Art: Pictorialism
  • Straight Photography and the New Vision
  • Exhibited Photography as Propaganda

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • be able to use different forms of historical materials relating to the history of art and visual culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries
  • understand the relationship between social, economic and political forces and the artistic practices of the period, and be able to make close analyses of relevant texts and images.