Fall 2014

Contemporary Art and Curatorial Practice

Listed in: Art and the History of Art, as ARHA-274

Moodle site: Course


Magdalena Holdar (Section 01)


Since the thorough renegotiation of the concept of art in the 1960s and 70s, contemporary art has continuously come to explore new media, sites, and expressions. Conceptual art, performance, video- and sound-based art are examples that often illustrate this development. However, they also act alongside an expanded understanding of traditional art forms such as painting and sculpture, both of which have taken radically new directions during the past decades. The vivid and changing field of artistic practices provides new challenges for museums and curators in terms of collecting, displaying, and communicating art to the public. This course offers theoretical and practical takes on curating and curatorial practices in relation to contemporary art and makes full use of the collection and facilities of the Mead Art Museum. The course investigates the relation between contemporary artistic and curatorial practices mainly from the perspective of the museum, but also with reference to curating outside the frame of an institution. It is designed to combine theory with practice in order to raise awareness of the effects curating can have on the individual artwork. The course aims to deepen the understanding of the individual artwork’s potential to communicate different narratives or expressions. Class is based on lectures regularly incorporating discussion. Recurring sessions at the Mead, which will include examinations of works from the collection, constitute a core in the course structure.

Seminars and lectures discuss central aspects in curating and museum practices, such as collecting and conservation; installation and display; education (including the use of new media); documentation. Named aspects are related to contemporary artistic practices in performance, photography, video- and sound-based art, conceptual art, street art and graffiti, contemporary painting, and sculpture. Furthermore, the course discusses the artist as researcher and curator, areas that have had impact on art education and the distinction between curating and art production in recent years. The course includes one field trip, e.g., Mass MoCA.

Limited to 15 students. Art history concentrators preferred; then upper-class students who have taken art history. Fall semester. STINT Fellow Holdar.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to Art History concentrators; then upper-class students who have taken art history


2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014