Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : History of Art

Undergraduate Course: Utopia Zones: Modernism and Abstraction (Level 10) (HIAR10205)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe desire to transform art, cancelling and rejecting its previous histories and beginning again, lay behind much twentieth-century artistic experiment, and above all the development of abstraction. This impulse was often allied to the desire to remake society anew, finding new models for individual living and for social relations. This course will explore these twin desires and the art to which they gave rise: offering a way of re-examining and expanding the histories of abstract art, traversing the tradition of heroic, or visionary, 'utopian' modernist abstraction and its key forms and paradigms (including the monochrome and the grid) as well as those emerging from more alternative or counter-traditions (such as silence, or the refusal of work). Digging out the ambivalences and tensions within these paradigms, the course will study both idealist and anti-idealist traditions in the theorisation of abstraction.
Course description Each class is structured around a particular model of form, or way of making or viewing, originating for the most part in the early decades of the twentieth century and further developed in the post-war and contemporary periods; considering how it has been developed, explored and complicated, even undermined or reversed, by artists working at different times and in different places. Exact topics are likely to vary from year to year but may include for example the monochrome; the grid; colour and colourlessness; the everyday; idleness; the studio; sacrifice; formlessness; the city; nature; the collective; chance. Artists whose work we may examine include Piet Mondrian, Kasimir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko, Robert Delaunay, Sonia Delaunay, Marcel Duchamp, Agnes Martin, Gerhard Richter, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Rauschenberg, Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana, Eva Hesse, Lee Lozano, John Cage, Bruce Nauman, Roni Horn, Gabriel Orozco, Helio Oiticica, and Tacita Dean.

Teaching will be delivered through a mixture of lecture, discussion and student presentation in two-hour classes. These may include occasional visits to relevant collections in Edinburgh. Students will also be encouraged to organise weekly one-hour peer-learning groups to discuss readings and images.
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).
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1 x 3-hour online exam (50%)
1 x 2,500 word essay (50%) submitted weeks 8-10
You will be asked to deliver an individual presentation to the class, and you will sign up for a topic at the start of semester. You will receive support to help you develop this, and will receive oral feedback afterwards. The presentation will help develop your knowledge and understanding of a specific topic you can use for your summative assessment.

You will receive written feedback on your essay as per University regulations and the opportunity to discuss the feedback with the teacher.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)3 hour online examination3:15
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Articulate knowledge and understanding of key twentieth-century artists and artistic movements
  2. Analyse the ways in which forms and ideas, including the monochrome, the grid and collage developed within earlier twentieth-century art and continue to underpin later twentieth-century and contemporary art
  3. Demonstrate the ability to perceive and argue for connections across a range of artistic practices
  4. Apply understanding of appropriate theoretical ideas for interpreting this material
Reading List
Batchelor, David. Found Monochromes, vol. 1 (London: Ridinghouse, 2010).
Batchelor, David. Chromophobia (London: Reaction Books, 2000).
Briony, Fer & Hesse, Eva. Studiowork (Edinburgh: The Fruitmarket Gallery, in assoc, with Yale University Press, 2009).
Buchloh, Benjamin. 'The Primary Colours for the Second Time: A Paradigm Repetition of the Neo-Avant-Garde', October, vol. 37 (1986), 41-52.
Orozco, Gabriel. 'Lecture' (2001), in Yve-Alain Bois ed., Gabriel Orozco (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009), 85-104.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills You will develop your skills in visual and critical analysis through discussing and writing about specific images in relation to themes of modernism, abstraction, constructivism and minimalism. Through this work you will be encouraged to articulate clear lines of argument which address and connect the theory and practice of art-making in the twentieth century. The course structure and assignments will facilitate teamwork through group discussion and develop your organisation and planning skills.
Course organiserDr Iain Campbell
Tel: (0131 6)51 3120
Course secretaryMiss Chloe Hancock
Tel: (0131 6)50 4124
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information