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Semester 1

The Minimalist Moment: American Art, 1960-1975 (HIAR10152)


History of Art





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This course cannot be taken alongside History of Art 2A or 2B. Visiting students must have completed at least 3 History of Art courses at grade B or above; we will only consider University/College level courses. **Please note that History of Art courses have extremely limited spaces available, and are very popular, so students cannot be guaranteed a space in any History of Art course.** These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the History of Art department directly to request additional spaces.

Course Summary

This course offers an investigation of Minimalist art in America, c1960-1975, and its legacies in contemporary art, across a range of media. The course is structured as a series of two-hour seminars, focusing each week on individual artists, working in a different medium or area of art practice (objects, space, photography, film, etc.).

Course Description

This course examines the gesture of extreme reduction explored by artists working in painting, drawing, sculpture, film, photography and dance from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s, in the USA; as well as, to some extent, tracing its legacies in contemporary art. What happens to photography when you refuse to photograph people? What happens to film when you refuse to project any images? What happens to sculpture when you refuse to carve or mould? Across a range of different practices, artists working at this moment shared a rejection of expressivity, skill, medium and tradition. What opened up in the place of these refusals was a range of unexpected and powerful effects, and a language of form which is still influential and even inescapable today. Attending closely to contesting historical definitions, but building on the latest scholarship, the aim of the course is to survey a range of materially and ideologically heterogeneous practices, in order to produce an expanded 'Minimalist moment', that includes investigation of the socio-political as well as formal meanings of particular works. Fundamentally the course addresses the questions of what it means to focus on a gesture of reduction so extreme that it becomes excessive, and what within minimalism may surpass its own terms.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 50%, Coursework 50%, Practical Exam 0%

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