Kara Walker, Elegy for a No-Account Niggra

What is Contemporary Art?

Instructor: Morgan Meis
Bethlehem Building
1450 McKinstry Street
Detroit, MI 48209

A woman stalks complete strangers, following them around in their daily routines for days. This is art. A man hires a construction company to pour a truck-load of asphalt down the side of a hill. Art. Another man cooks pad thai and serves it to a group of people hanging out in a gallery. Also art. Are there any rules to what makes contemporary art, art? Is there a way to view and appreciate this kind of work without becoming baffled or annoyed?

In this class, we’ll look at works by contemporary artists from Kara Walker to Jeff Koons, Ai Weiwei to Marina Abramovic. We’ll ask: how are the works of contemporary artists situated in the history of art and culture? We’ll explore the social and political goals of these artists and examine the changing attitudes toward aesthetics over the last fifty years. You cannot look at contemporary art without thinking about globalization, feminism, race and gender theory, and political economy. We’ll read essays by critics like Rosalind Krauss, Arthur Danto, Lucy Lippard, and Dave Hickey in order to develop a set of conceptual tools with which to approach contemporary art. At the same, we’ll pay close attention to the art objects themselves, and think about how we relate and respond in the moment to contemporary art.

Course Schedule

Sunday, 2:00-5:00pm
July 01 — July 22, 2018
4 weeks