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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : History of Art

Undergraduate Course: Bad Painting: Humour, Sarcasm and Stupidity in Modern and Contemporary Art (HIAR10172)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines aspects of humour, sarcasm and stupidity in modern and contemporary art around the theme of 'Bad Painting'. Deriving from a curatorial category proposed in 1978 by Marcia Tucker, we will expand the idea to describe a form of art making that deliberately defies both existing bourgeois norms of 'good taste' and avant-garde models of 'good practice'.
Course description This course explores the possible critical value of 'Bad Painting' and its associated forms, drawing on a diverse range of visual and theoretical material, from the early twentieth century to the present day, including for example, the later works of enigmatic surrealists Francis Picabia and René Magritte, which, on the surface, seemed to contradict the artists' avant-garde roots, signaling a descent into excess and willful stupidity, and a trend in German painting in the late 20th century, incorporating artists such as Sigmar Polke, Isa Genzken, Martin Kippenberger and Albert Oehlen, whose works sometime seem to express little more than a sarcastic and adolescent sense of humour. Structured as a series of two-hour seminars, focusing on different themes, including deadpan humour, cynical reason and the death of painting, we will explore the way in which this approach to art making rejects the social and politically minded aspects of much modern and contemporary art, indulging instead a nihilistic and apathetic sensibility, adhering to Picabia's aphorism that all 'conviction is a disease'. Drawing upon the dissident surrealist writings of Georges Bataille and Roger Caillois and more recent theorists of negativity such as Jean Baudrillard and Steven Shaviro, as well as up to date theoretical contributions on comedy, we will explore the potential critical value of 'Bad Painting' in the visual arts; unpacking and problematising issues such as the avant-garde, art's relationship to media and technology, the so-called 'end of painting', art and the commodity object, and the political agency of humour.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: History of Art 2 (HIAR08012) OR Architectural History 2a: Order & the City (ARHI08006) AND Architectural History 2b: Culture & the City (ARHI08007)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have completed at least 3 History of Art courses at grade B or above, and we will only consider University/College level courses. **Please note that 3rd year History of Art courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  22
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 24, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 150 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1 x 2000 word essay 50% - submitted weeks 8-10.«br /»
1 x 24 hour online exam 50% - April/May diet.
Feedback Students are given feedback on formative assessment as follows:

At an agreed point in the semester, you will be asked to prepare a presentation to deliver to the class and to submit a short (c.300 word) summary of your presentation with references. You will receive verbal feedback at a one-to-one meeting afterwards, within 15 working days.

Summative Assessment

There will be an essay and an exam, equally weighted. Written feedback on student essays will be provided, within 15 working days of submission, in addition to a one-to-one meeting towards the end of semester.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)24 hour online examination paper0:05
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the ways in which works of art may refuse to submit to artistic canons, opposing both traditional academic concepts and rules and those established by the twentieth century avant-gardes.
  2. Demonstrate skills of visual analysis and interpretation by looking in detail at difficult works of art and setting these in a historical and theoretical context.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to analyse theoretical ideas such as e.g. negativity and consider their application to painting and the visual arts, appreciating their achievements and limitations, and using them to build your own arguments.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to critically examine the ways in which humour functions in modern and contemporary art.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to present ideas clearly and well in writing and in debate.
Reading List
Theodor Adorno. 'Is Art Lighthearted?' [1967], Theodor W. Adorno, Notes to Literature - Volume Two (New York: Columbia University, 1992).

Jean Baudrillard, Fatal Strategies [1983], (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2008).

Hal Foster, Bad New Days: Art, Criticism, Emergency (London; New York: Verso, 2015).

Susanne Neuburger & Eva Badura-Triska, Bad Painting Good Art (Cologne: Dumont, 2008).

Marcia Tucker, 'Bad' Painting (New York: New Museum, 1978).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Visual and critical analysis;
Clear thinking and the development of an argument;
Independent research;
Presentation and communication skills;
Organisation and planning.
Course organiserDr Ian Rothwell
Course secretaryMrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460
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