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

Undergraduate Course: The Minimalist Moment: American Art, 1960-1975 (HIAR10152)

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 offers an investigation of Minimalist art in America, c1960-1975, and its legacies in contemporary art, across a range of media. The course is structured as a series of two-hour seminars, focusing each week on individual artists, working in a different medium or area of art practice (objects, space, photography, film, etc.).
Course description This course examines the gesture of extreme reduction explored by artists working in painting, drawing, sculpture, film, photography and dance from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s, in the USA; as well as, to some extent, tracing its legacies in contemporary art. What happens to photography when you refuse to photograph people? What happens to film when you refuse to project any images? What happens to sculpture when you refuse to carve or mould? Across a range of different practices, artists working at this moment shared a rejection of expressivity, skill, medium and tradition. What opened up in the place of these refusals was a range of unexpected and powerful effects, and a language of form which is still influential and even inescapable today. Attending closely to contesting historical definitions, but building on the latest scholarship, the aim of the course is to survey a range of materially and ideologically heterogeneous practices, in order to produce an expanded 'Minimalist moment', that includes investigation of the socio-political as well as formal meanings of particular works. Fundamentally the course addresses the questions of what it means to focus on a gesture of reduction so extreme that it becomes excessive, and what within minimalism may surpass its own terms.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: History of Art 2A Reason, Romance, Revolution: Art from 1700 to 1900 (HIAR08027) AND History of Art 2B From Modernism and the Avant-Gardes to Postmodernism and Globalisation (HIAR08028)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who have passed at least 60 credits of Architectural History at Level 8 can also take these courses. If the pre-requisites cannot be met, entry to this course can be negotiated in consultation with either the Course Organiser or Programme Director (History of Art).
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
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Look closely at works of art from the 1960s and 70s, which often appear opaque and/or resistant to analysis, and begin to explain why they look the way they do.
  2. Read difficult texts on Minimalism and related theoretical topics skillfully and with understanding, and use them to build your own arguments.
  3. Successfully analyze ideas and arguments concerning the aims of Minimalism, its achievements and limitations, and set these in historical context.
  4. Present your own ideas clearly and well in writing and in debate.
  5. Prepare and organize your work effectively to deadlines.
Reading List
James Meyer, Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the 1960s (New Haven, CT; London: Yale University Press, 2001).
James Meyer ed., Minimalism: Themes and Perspectives (London: Phaidon, 2000).
Gregory Battcock ed., Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology (Berkeley; London: University of California Press, 1995).
Donald Judd: Complete Writings, 1959-1975 (Halifax: Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1975).
Hal Foster, 'The Crux of Minimalism', in Foster, The Return of the Real (Cambridge, Mass; London: MIT Press, 1996), pp. 35-68.
Jo Applin, Eccentric Objects: Rethinking Sculpture in 1960s America (London; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Visual and critical analysis;
Clear thinking and the development of an argument;
Independent research;
Presentation and communication skills;
Organization and planning.
KeywordsMinimalism,Objects,Space,Reduction,Interaction,Deskilling,Anti-expressivity,The Sixties
Course organiserDr Iain Campbell
Tel: (0131 6)51 3120
Course secretaryMiss Chloe Hancock
Tel: (0131 6)50 4124
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