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This course will examine medium and materiality across a range of contemporary art practices, focusing in particular on the shift from modernist notions of medium purity to the radical fracturing and opening up of medium that has taken place since the 1970s.
The course will begin by considering Clement Greenberg’s influential claims for medium specificity in Modern art before going on to discuss some of the expanded labels that have been used to describe aspects of contemporary practice, for example the ‘anti-form’ of post-minimalism, the ‘dematerialisation’ of conceptual art, and installation art as a ‘collection of mediums’. Lectures and tutorials will ask questions about what constitutes a medium, and will consider the continued relevance of medium and materiality as discrete concepts used to describe aspects of contemporary art. Lectures will be augmented by object-based tutorials and studio visits in which students will have the opportunity to engage in first-hand analysis of art works and the spaces in which they are made. Where appropriate, gallery visits will consider the way in which art institutions and spaces of display have impacted our understanding of medium and materiality.
In this course you will learn: A broad understanding of medium as a contested term in contemporary art that might variously refer to properties of convention, material support, technical process, institutional context. An understanding of the complex materiality of contemporary art practices and the theoretical issues that frame them. Of the critical debates surrounding notions of medium specificity and trans-disciplinarity in contemporary art. An ability to critically evaluate evidence and present well-reasoned arguments. An ability to analyse objects in terms of their material properties.
This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:
Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award
Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.
Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.
Any 30 points at 200 level from ARTH, orany 60 points at 200 level from the Schedule V of the BA or from the BFA.
ARTH215 International Contemporary Art
Please check the course LEARN page for further details and updates.
There is no set text. Readings will be posted on Learn and there is a list of useful texts in the course outline which are available from the UC Library.(Image: Charlotte Watson, "Psyzygsm" 2011. University of Canterbury Art Collection.)
Domestic fee $1,597.00
International fee $7,200.00
* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.
For further information see