ART-229: Survey of Contemporary Art

Liberal Arts
Academic Level
Course Subject
Course Number
Course Title
Survey of Contemporary Art
Credit Hours
Instructor Contact Hours Per Semester
47.00 (for 15-week classes)
Student Contact Hours Per Semester
47.00 (for 15-week classes)
Grading Method
ENG-081 eligible
Catalog Course Description

A global survey of major trends in visual art since the end of the Modern era. Examines the evolution of visual exploration and expression since the middle of the twentieth century and the impact it has manifested on contemporary society worldwide. Students will be encouraged to comprehend the context of contemporary trends and consider the artists' roles as image-makers in today's globally connected world. A field trip to a major museum, or other appropriate art site, is required.

Goals, Topics, and Objectives

Goal Statement
  • To develop succinct understanding and appreciation to the history and development of contemporary art since the middle of the twentieth century
  • To gain academic knowledge of the development of the various trends through understanding the chronology, political, religious and social development globally.
  • To understand the historic artistic interaction of contemporary art trends with major cultural developments throughout the world during the contemporary era.
  • To explore, comprehend and learn the fundamentals of various styles, methods and presentations of contemporary art.
  • To develop personal visual approach in creating contemporary artwork.
Core Course Topics
  1. Discovering the Contemporary
    • Describe the history and development of Contemporary art.
    • Recognize different trends and styles.
    • Describe the different styles: Minimalism, Process Art, Environmental art, Institutional Critique, African American Critique, Feminist Statement.*
  2. Appropriation and its Consequences: Power on Display, Space and Action
    • Explain appropriation theory.
    • Include the dates when it became a major strategy for contemporary artists, and explain why it did from a historical perspective.
    • Be able to fully identify artworks in this area and explain how they deploy appropriation.
  3. Back to the Easel: Neo-Expressionism and the Return of Painting
    • Analyze the new approach in painting in the United States, Italy, Germany, and other countries.
    • Examine and understand the essence of “Art in the Community” and the “Mass Media”.*
    • Understand the concept of “Commodities and Consumerism” worldwide.
  4. Memory and History
    • Describe the trend of memorializing wars, African American History, and visual documentation of civil wars.*
    • Analyze major monuments worldwide.*
  5. Culture, Body and the Self
    • Understand the artist utilization of the self and body as form and content, the body as social medium, and personal life and artistic practice.*
  6. Global Contemporary Art
    • Describe the spread of contemporary art abroad such as Russia, China, Cuba, Iran, Japan, and the Middle East.*
    • Understand the New Metaphors and New Narratives in painting, sculpture.

Assessment and Requirements

Assessment of Academic Achievement

Assessment of Academic Achievement will be identified and implemented by the class instructor. Methods may include written tests and essay examinations, out-of-class papers, Internet assignments, library/museum projects, etc.

Students will be expected to:

  1. Demonstrate reasonable understanding of the history, development, and use of different approaches of contemporary artists in their works chronologically.
  2. Write one long critical research paper for the course along with 2-3 short essay papers on specific topics from the materials of the course.
  3. Participate in class discussions on weekly reading assignments.
  4. Visit the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA) or the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit - MOCAD and tour certain sections related to the materials of the course. The museum visit is mandatory, and students will meet at the museum on a prearranged day and time. Students may conduct special research project at different museums that has relevant artworks and materials in metro Detroit or at a similar institutions in the country or abroad with the pre-approval of the instructor.

Determined by the instructor. Present suggested text is: Kalb, Peter R., ART SINCE 1980 Charting the Contemporary, Brandeis University

Approval Dates

Effective Term
Fall 2018
ILT Approval Date
AALC Approval Date
Curriculum Committee Approval Date