Art historians frequently rely on terms denoting historical periods (such as ‘the Renaissance’ or ‘Enlightenment’) or styles (e.g. ‘Classicism,’ ‘Realism’) as a way of interpreting the history of artistic practices. Some terms are employed to describe both a period and a style (such as ‘Gothic,’ or ‘Baroque’). These concepts have proven to be hugely influential in shaping the understanding of art, and a critical understanding of how they are used is a vital part of art historical knowledge.
This module considers the concept of Modernism. Examining a range of works of art as well as textual sources, it explores some of the defining practices of Modernism, such as: the Avant-Garde; ‘Primitivism’; the role of feminism and photography in modern art. As an exploration of Modernism as an art historical concept, the module also considers more recent debates within art history over the meaning and use of the term.