Duchamp, Picasso, Koons, and More–Modern and Contemporary Art Explained: A Four-Part Course with Katia Porro - Context Travel

Duchamp, Picasso, Koons, and More–Modern and Contemporary Art Explained: A Four-Part Course with Katia Porro


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From Marcel Duchamp's Fountain (1917) to Jeff Koon's balloon animals, this course will be an overview of the history of twentieth and twenty-first-century art. Considering major artistic movements as well as minor figures–such as female artists–the audience will understand how the artists have reacted to political and social movements since the turn of the century.

Together we will learn how to read and understand modern and contemporary art, covering iconic works considered by many to be both visually and conceptually challenging. We will come away with an understanding of artworks present in major museum collections from the MoMA in New York to the Centre Pompidou in Paris, equipping us for visits to modern and contemporary art museums during future travels both alone and with Context. The first three lectures will outline art history from 1900-2020, while the last course will be specifically dedicated to marginalized figures in art history.

Topics to be covered will include Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism, Social Realism and Regionalism, the Bauhaus and de Stijl, Dada and Surrealism, American Modernism, Minimalism, Pop Art, Conceptual Art, Environmental Art, Feminist Art, Photography, Modern and Postmodern Architecture, Video, and Computer Art and New Media.

Led by an expert on modern and contemporary art, Katia Porro, this course will outline the history of twentieth and twenty-first-century art. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of how artists over the last centuries have reacted to social and political movements through formal, verbal, and visual expression.

Lecture 1: What is Art? 1900 – 1960

This first session will explore the beginnings of modernism, question the definition of art itself, and present the social and political movements of the early twentieth century that shaped the future of art. From Marcel Duchamp’s fountain to Abstract expressionism, the lecture will cover the major movements of the first half of the twentieth century.

Lecture 2: Where Does Art Belong? 1960-1990

This second session will explore the various movements from the 1960s to the 1990s, exploring new formal expressions such as performance art and mail art, and question the place of the artwork, as artists of the time had done.

Lecture 3: Art from 1990 through 2020

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, art underwent a radical transformation and was characterized by the burgeoning interconnectedness and social libertarianism that was flourishing through music and art, across German techno, American house, and British rave culture, through ever-quickening modes of communication. This session will consider how art has changed over the last thirty years and how it has been influenced by new forms of communication, such as the internet.

Lecture 4: Marginalized Figures in Art History

This last and final session will revisit certain movements outlined throughout the course while spending time focusing on marginalized figures in art history, such as female and non-western artists.

Katia Porro is an American art and design historian based in France. She works as a freelance curator, art critic and translator. She holds a Masters in Contemporary Art and Curation (L’art contemporain et son exposition) from Sorbonne Université – Faculté des Lettres, as well as an M.A. in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies from Parsons Paris – The New School. She thus develops a transdisciplinary practice investigating the social dimensions of the domestic space and built environment through the lens of contemporary art. She has organized various off-site projects as well as exhibitions in institutions such as the Fondation d’entreprise Ricard (Paris) and Gether Contemporary (Copenhagen). She has published texts on both contemporary art and design in publications such as the Journal of Modern Craft, KLIMA, Point Contemporain, and Disegno.

How does it work?

This is a four-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background in art history, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $140 for four lectures.

Is a recording available?

Yes. If you need to miss a lecture please let us know and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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