In July 1972 the prize-winning Pruitt-Igoe housing estate in St. Louis was demolished. Commonly seen as embodying the utopian ideals of modern art and architecture, its destruction was seen as marking a key turning point. In place of the utopian and critical stances of modernism and the avant-garde there emerged in the early 1970s a sceptical and fractured art world, in which art seemed to have lost its historical, political and cultural compass.
This course examines the development of art from the early 1970s to the present in the light of this context. It examines art world development not only through time - the 40 or so years since 1972 - but also through space. In particular, beginning with a focus on practices in Britain, Europe and North America, the module will also consider the globalisation of contemporary art and the 'provincialising' of the Western art world.
It will address themes such as: postmodernism and theories of the postmodern; the revival of figurative painting; nostalgia and neoconservatism; contemporary art and gender politics; 'Britart' and Charles Saatchi; art in the new Europe since 1989; installation art; the relation between contemporary art and the mass media; postcolonial theory and global art; new media in recent art practice; relational art and aesthetics; curating as an art form.