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Art and Society Between 1900 and the Present


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Assessment: a 2500-word essay (50%) and three-hour take-home examination (50%)

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.

The course explores these issues through four blocks of seminars, each consisting of four to five classes ranging across painting, sculpture, installation, photography, film and design:

  • Modernity and the avant-garde
  • Urban modernity on film
  • Art and the unconscious
  • Art and society in the 90s

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.