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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2022-23

ARTH 63.13 Bad Art!

What are the criteria for judging art’s merits?  Who gets to decide?  This course examines the problem of aesthetic hierarchies in terms of the histories of their making and unmaking.  How do  they get constructed, defended, and toppled?  What are the stakes of categorizing some forms of art making as outside of “good taste”?  What does “high” art really mean?  This class will survey key moments in modern art history that reveal charged instances where particular forms of art were deemed beyond the pale or simply not art.   What are the value judgments that take place in order for art to be deemed “bad” or “good”?   We will examine these questions through the historical lens of the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, since this was a period that witnessed the democratization of art as we know it today.  At the end of the course, we will reflect on the situation of contemporary art in light of the historical and theoretical questions that we have posed over the course of the term.

Topics to be considered: the history of art criticism, the fledgling power of the abstract entity called “the public” in terms of art’s reception; modern art and anti-aesthetic tendencies, the mundane and ugly as terms that modern artists elevated in order to distance themselves from middlebrow, bourgeois taste, and the predicament of discerning art’s value today.   



Degree Requirement Attributes

Dist:ART; WCult:W

The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.