This course tackles art from a cultural point of view. In doing so, it is consistant both with the theoretical approach of the Cultural Studies and with the more practical requirements in the field of Cultural Management.
After a brief theoretical introduction, the syllabus is divided into two major sections.
The first one deals with the arts as a whole, and is therefore interested mainly in what happens 'outside' the art work. It takes a multifaceted approach from different perspectives, offering a caleidoscopic and necessarily pluralistic view of a complex and often even contradictory reality. Each approach deals with one particular aspect of art as a historical, social and cultural practice, and will be tackled with a diachronic, but by no means exhaustive perspective: only the most relevant episodes will be taken into account. In turn, each of these conceptual threads will intersect the others at some point or another. Some of those points serve as real nodes, transforming our understanding of art as a whole. The most important one will be undoubtedly the period known as modernism. Modernism representes the culmination of the search for autonomy of the artistic institution, with extremely important historical, social, economic and cultural consequences which to a great extent still determine our understanding of the discipline. Obviously enough, we are currently engaged in yet another of those nodes: digitalization and globalization are modifying enormously our comprehension of the artistic sphere.
The second section will address the main types of analysis of art and the work of art. It is concerned mainly with what happens 'inside' the art work. An art work is a complex artifact that serves many purposes and transmits its contents in a variety of ways. This section will study the main theoretical perspectives on art analysis. Especial attention will be paid to those which are still in use in the fields of visual and cultural studies.
0. Art as culture and the concept of art: meanings, origins, uses and limits.
This brief introduction will deal with art as a cultural practice, as well as with its many definitions. The origins, evolution and limitations of the different conceptual approaches will also be studied.
1. Art and the Art World.
1.1. Art as an Institution.
This origins of different artistic institutions, such as the academias, will be addressed here, as well as their relationship with the figure of the artist, particularly from modernism to our days.
1.2. Art and the Audience.
This section will discuss the role of the public from its emergence in the 18th century to our days, as well as other concepts tied to it: taste, popular art, mass culture, etc.
1.3. Art as a Commodity.
The material, economic and practical implications of art will be dealt with, as well as the institutions related to them: the market, galleries, museums, etc.
1.4. Art and Ideology.
The main episodes in the complex relationship between artistic practices and ideology and political praxis will be tackled here, from the more explicit overlap at the beginning of Modernity (19th century, avant-garde & politics, 'entartete Kunst', the cultural Cold War) to the interweaving of art and identity and biopolitics from the End of the 20th century to our days (posmodernism, canon issues, feminism, etc.).
2. The Study of the Work of Art
2.1. Origins and Characteristics of the Main Disciplines.
The basic principles of the various disciplines that analyze art will be addressed: Art History, Aesthetics, Art Criticism and Visual Studies.
2.2. Conceptual Approaches
The most relevant conceptual approaches to the analysis of an art work will be discussed, both from a theoretical and a practical point of view. Especial attention will be paid to those which are still in use in the fields of visual and cultural studies: art & biography, sociological and marxist approaches, psychoanalysis, iconography and semiotics, Frankfurt School, hermeneutics, post-structuralism, deconstruction.