ART 101


This course designed to critically explore and attempt to grasp concepts surrounding contemporary visual art. The lectures will help us to demystify the processes by which contemporary media could be defined or produced, and also to understand the complex relationships between art and other topics such as technology, identity, narrative, body, time and popular culture. We will also host several members of the art faculty during the term as they guide us through issues pertaining to their work and disciplines.

This course is meant to challenge us, both technically and theoretically, so that we become familiar with contemporary media in a globally influenced, culturally diverse, and technologically advancing world. Within this context we will survey the work and ideas of artists who have explored new interactive and interdisciplinary forms, as well as other thinkers who have developed influential ideologies that have influenced the arts of the twenty-first century.



Friday 12 - 2 PM, Millrace 1, #103


- basic exposure to the nature and rigor of contemporary visual art and its practice

- develop and strengthen ability to critically examine subjective materials in a rigorous, well-researched and holistic manner

- develop analytical and critical thinking fundamentals

- develop and strengthen ability to articulate cohesive and solid criticism/analysis in written and/or visual form

If you have a documented disability and anticipate need for accommodation in this course, please make arrangements to meet with me at the earliest opportunity. Please request the Counselor for Students with Disabilities send a letter verifying your disability and the recommended accommodation. For assistance with access or disability-related questions or concerns, contact Disability Services at 346-1155.

If you are not familiar with behavior that falls into the category of Academic Misconduct at the University of Oregon, the following link is very helpful in its explanation. The consequences for engaging in such behavior can be severe. [Link]

The School of Architecture and Allied Arts is a community that values inclusion. We are committed to equal opportunities for all faculty, staff and students to develop individually, professionally, and academically regardless of ethnicity, heritage, gender, sexual orientation, ability, socio-economic standing, cultural beliefs and traditions. We are dedicated to an environment that is inclusive and fosters awareness, understanding, and respect for diversity. If you feel excluded or threatened, please contact your instructor and/or department head. The University Bias Response Team is also a resource that can assist you. Find more information at their website at [Link] or by phoning 541-346-2037.

Criteria considered:

  • Quality and amount of work
  • Engagement with course expectations and concepts
  • Participation
  • Progress and self-challenge
  • Typical Grade Distributions

A+ :: Truly exceptional work, unusually sophisticated level of engagement with course concepts, insightful participation in class discussions, extraordinary growth. Highest distinction, typically very few if any students receive this grade.

A :: Distinctive work, complete success in synthesis of thinking and making, thoughtful and perceptive contributions to discussions, significant personal progress. Typically no more than a quarter of the students in a class receive this grade, more in upper-division classes.

B :: Successful and well-executed work, competency with all course materials, concepts, and objectives, frequent and thoughtful participation, evidence of progress. Typically this is the most common grade.

C :: Competent work with most assignments and class work completed, satisfactory grasp of material, participates in discussions most times, made some growth. Typically this grade indicates weak performance in at least one area of expectation.

D :: Subpar work with significant lack of completion and/or low attendance, course concepts poorly understood, minimal participation, minimal to no growth. Typically this grade indicates significant problems in more than one area of performance.

F :: Problematic on all fronts, indicating either no real grasp of the material, significant lack of effort and/or growth, or unacceptably negative forms of engagement with the course materials and the classroom community. Typically very few students receive this grade.

Final percentage distinctions:

  • 98 - 100% = A+
  • 94 - 97.9% = A
  • 90 - 93.9% = A-
  • 87 - 89.9% = B+
  • 83 - 86.9% = B
  • 80 - 82.9% = B-
  • 77 - 79.9% = C+
  • 73 - 76.9% = C
  • 70 - 72.9% = C-
  • 67 - 69.9% = D+
  • 63 - 66.9% = D
  • 60 - 62.9% = D-
  • Below 60% = F

Late submission will not be accepted, unless there is evidence of an emergency or with prior arrangement with me on emergency grounds (if you are having a personal emergency, email me or the GTFs as soon as possible). See me ONLY in office hours; not before, during, or after lecture.

Incompletes for the course will not be given except in cases of personal hardship/illness discussed in advance with the instructor.

Also please note that you are going to submit most of your assignments through online templates. Lost files or incomplete submission caused by technical issues, such as unrliable internet access or etc. are not viable excuses for late or incomplete work.


  • iClicker

  • Reliable Internet access and E-mail Address

  • Notebook/Sketchbook


Attendance is essential in this class. Attendance will be taken via i-Clicker at the beginning and the end of each class. You must have two clicks to be considered present. You are allowed three absences without penalty. After that each absence will result in ONE FULL LETTER grade drop. Please note that there is no distinguish between "excused" or "not excused." An absence is an absence regardless of any reason. We will use the i-Clicker at least 2x per class, and you must have both clicks in order to be considered present. It is your responsibility that you bring your iClicker to every class.

CLASS Modus Operandi

In this class the entire world of contemporary art as it happens and also the historical precedent of it, is our domain. The class time will be divided into 3 main sections: Class Lecture, Guest Lecture and Group Discussion.


Each week on Tuesday we will engage with one major topic in contemporary art by introducing various artists and examining their works as a dynamic combination of materials, methods, concepts, and subjects that challenge traditional boundaries of art practice.


From week 2 to week 10, each week on Thursday, a guest lecturer from the art faculty will present a set of issues in his/her field of practice/media for us to consider. Therefore, part of the contents of our weekly seminars will be developed in real time with the participation of our guest lecturers.


During the term students will be divided into groups of 5 people and every week on Thursday, after the Guest Lecture, they will discuss the presented materials with their group-mates and document it for their weekly response.


It is the mission of the University of Oregon, and higher education in general, to offer everyone an opportunity and environment to expand their critical capacity and creative potential. We are going to follow this direction through different materials and assignments during the term.

There are two types of assignments in this course which at the end indicate the final grade:

  • Weekly short quizzes: 50%
  • Guest Lecture Response: 50%

* All guest lecture responses will be submitted to Canvas no later than noon (12:00 pm) on Monday every week.

** There will be no Midterm or Final Exam in this course.


- Donald Kuspit, Introduction: A critical History of 20th Century Art

TUE 3/29

  • Review of syllabus: course objectives, readings, assignments, and grading
  • Introducing the course website

THU 3/31

  • What is Contemporary Art?
  • Modernism/Postmodernism

- Geometric Abstraction, Magdalena Dabrowski
- Abstract Expressionism, Stella Paul

TUE 4/5

Class Lecture: Art and Abstraction

THU 4/7

Guest Lecturer:


TUE 4/12

Class Lecture: Readymade and Everyday Object

THU 4/14

Guest Lecturer:


TUE 4/19

Class Lecture: Pop Art and Popular Culture

THU 4/21

Guest Lecturer:


TUE 4/26

Class Lecture: Representation of Reality

THU 4/28

Guest Lecturer: Brad Miller and Mollie Favour


TUE 5/3

Class Lecture: Postmodern Storytelling

THU 5/5

Guest Lecturer:


TUE 5/10

Class Lecture: Time and Space

THU 5/12

Guest Lecturer:


TUE 5/17

Class Lecture: Body and Identity

THU 5/19

Guest Lecturer:


TUE 5/24

Class Lecture: Audience and Interaction

THU 5/26

Guest Lecturer:


TUE 5/31

Class Lecture: New Media

THU 6/2

Guest Lecturer:


Useful Links:

- UO Canvas Website
- Submitting and Tracking Assignments in Canvas
- University of Oregon Counseling Center
- University Teaching and Learning Center
- Department of Art Lecture Series
- The New York Time | Art & Design
- The Art Newspaper

Recommended Books:

- David Hopkins, After Modern Art: 1945-2000. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000. Print.
- Kristine Stiles, Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. ISBN: 978-0520257184
- Eleanor Heartney, Art and Today. London: Phaidon, 2008. Print.
- Hans Werner Holzwarth, ed. Art Now, Vol. 3. Koln, London, Los Angeles:Taschen: 2008. ISBN: 978-3-8365-0511-6 [=ArtNow 3]
- H. H. Arnason, History of Modern Art (6th Edition). NY: Prentice Hall, 2003. ISBN: 978-0136062066
- Barbara Hess, Abstract Expressionism. Taschen, 2005. ISBN: 3822829706
- David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Oxford [England: Blackwell, 1990. ISBN: 978-0631162940
- Hal Foster, et al., eds. Art Since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, and Postmodernism. NY: Thames and Hudson, 2005.
- Madan Sarup, An Introductory Guide to Post-structuralism and Postmodernism. 2nd ed. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1993. ISBN: 978-0820315317
- David Campany, Art and Photography. New York, Phaidon Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0-7148-4756-6
- Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1990. ISBN:978-0631163022
- Arthur Danto, After the End of Art (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1997).
- Arthur Danto, The Madonna of the Future: Essays in a Pluralistic Art World (Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press, 2000)

Recommended Readings

- Defining art after conceptual art: Joao Ribas review of Martha Buskirk, The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art (MIT Press, Cambridge, 2003). Artnet, 1.12.04.
- Roland Barthes, "The Death of the Author (1967)"
- Arthur Danto, After the End of Art (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1997): Chap. 1, "Introduction: Modern, Postmodern, and Contemporary," pp. 3-19.
- George Dillon, "Art and the Semiotics of Images," University of Washington, 1999.
- Arthur Danto, "Transfiguration of the Commonplace (1974)"
- Clement Greenberg's Essays: "Avant Garde and Kitsch" (1939), "Modernist Painting" (1960), "Modern and Postmodern" (1979)
- Donald Kuspit, The Semiotic Anti-Subject, Artnet, 4.20.2001. [Essay on the postmodernism]
- Hal Foster, "Re: Post" in Brian Wallis, Art after Modernism: Rethinking Representation (New York: New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1984): 189-201.


Farhad Bahram
Alex Wurts
Natalya Kolosowsky