Sunday, November 11, 2018 10:00 am - 12:15 pm
Anna Hetherington / Columbia University
Amazingly, when the Renaissance painting Salvator Mundi—now the most expensive work of art ever sold—was auctioned by Christie's recently, it was not auctioned alongside other works of Renaissance art. Instead, it was auctioned with works of modern and contemporary art, in order to benefit from the fact that those sales now generate far more interest, and profit, than sales of even the Old Masters. This trend in the art market reflects a larger social trend that has emerged in recent years: although looking at art is an increasingly popular pastime, most of the excitement is focused not on the art of the distant past, but rather, on the art of the present. For example, in the past few years, some of the biggest blockbuster exhibitions have been of living artists, such as Yayoi Kusama, whose work people stood in line for hours to see in New York this winter. In tandem with this growing demand, many new modern and contemporary art spaces have opened around the world, such as The Broad in Los Angeles, while others, such as MoMA, are undergoing major expansions. Even academia is not immune: while only a generation ago, the textbooks of art history more or less stopped in the 1950s – now, more than half of new PhDs in the field focus on modern and contemporary art. Despite the popularity of modern and contemporary art with collectors, audiences, and scholars, there's no denying that it can be challenging to look at.
In this intensive seminar, Professor Anna Hetherington will explain modern art's history and meaning for the benefit of both skeptics and enthusiasts alike. This intensive seminar will include an introduction to modern art up through the 1960s, beginning with Picasso's Cubism and moving through Constructivism, Abstract Expressionism, and Pop. Understanding these movements lays the groundwork for a discussion of contemporary art from the 1970s onwards, emphasizing its various artistic movements and trends in the way art is produced, sold, and exhibited. Throughout the course, we will guide you in performing "close readings" of some of the most significant works of modern and contemporary art, giving you the tools to make sense of even the most demanding experiences.