History and Political Science

History and Political Science The American Context (Radicalism; Regionalism; Surrealism in Exile; Modernist Art)
Project description
Class : Contemporary Art. Overview:
What should become clear in this module are the social, political and art-historical reasons that European art ideas came to the USA and, even more importantly, the manner in which American artists adopted and adapted them.
This is not an essay.
The module has two discussions, one on Radicals, Regionalists, and Surrealists in Exile, the other on Modernist criticism and four of the key artists who are often associated with that aesthetic theory. In each of the two, you should make two informed and thoughtful posts. 1.Radicals, Regionalists, and Surrealists in Exile
What interests me about this period (and in particular about the year 1942) is the drama of how inchoate the situation seemed — so much was in flux and nobody knew how it would all end up. It was certainly that way with World War II, when it was by no means clear who would win. In the art world, after the failure of Marxist ideology and of Regionalist isolationism, American artists didn’t know what to do. Because of the interest that European Surrealists had in American indigenous peoples and the American landscape, American artists suddenly looked and saw something they had never noticed before. But why wouldn’t Americans embrace Surrealist ideology as a whole? Why wouldn’t they band together like the Surrealists (except to drink)? Why wouldn’t they publish manifestoes the way the Surrealists had and did? What was it about Americans . . . and about that moment . . . ? And what all else about the period is on your mind . . . ? 2.Modernist Criticism and Modernist Art
What is your take on this formalist view of art? What are its qualities? What are its deficiencies? Why do you think it caught on when it did? — Because of the failure of ideologies caused by the Hitler-Stalin Non-Aggression Pact and by the entrance of the USA into World War II? Would you propose other explanations? Is formalism (a la Hofmann, for example) all clear to you? As a New York school students involved with design one way or another, you have a greater-than-average aptitude for understanding and talking about pure form. Still, maybe some points need clarification. In any case, with these discussion groups you are by no means required to hew to my questions and considerations. Post what’s interesting to you — or bewildering to you — or unclear to you from lectures. Be free! Be wild! Go for it!

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