When Viewing Examples of Student Work:

Often a single example of work may not demonstrate all the required objectives for a particular assignment. Instead students should collectively consider: the required objectives for each assignment, the multiple examples presented on this blog and during in class presentations. As well ideas discovered through a student's independent research in combination with various examples and ideas presented by instructor will ultimately be the best approach for synthesizing ideas and reaching the requirements (and unique outcome) for any particular course project.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What is Contemporary Art? (3 Images and Text Assignment)

The Purpose of "What is Contemporary Art?"Assignment:

1) Develop independent research skills

2) Become aware of contemporary art books and journals at the Architecture/Fine Arts Library and elsewhere.

3) Create a dialogue among classmates that clarifies and deciphers between imagery and objects that convey clichés and substantial thematic content

4) Assist students in clarifying current artwork that represents innovative contemporary ideas. Innovation occurs either through a visually interesting and unusually new use of materials or a new context has been created for an idea, message, image or object or there is a combination of some or all of these mentioned points. As well, contemporary work often challenges people’s value systems.

Homework Assignment:
(weighted for half a day) Due Wed Sept 22 (will be given final grade on videotaping day Wed Oct 20) Grades will be deducted if not completed for Wed Sept 22 but revisions may be made up until Wed Oct 20.

The Contemporary Art Assignment will require the following 5 components:

1) Cliché (over used) Image (or an object) with 100 word explanation as to why example is Cliché Image (4 x 5 min) and text clearly printed. (Wed Sept 22)  25% of assignment

2) A picture (or object) with Thematic Content (Metaphor or Symbolism)
The thematic content should have substance and or poetic layering. Describe the thematic content in the chosen example with a 100 word explanation. Image (4 x 5 min) and text clearly printed. (Due Wed Sept 22)  25% of assignment.

3) Contemporary Art (reproduction) (Due Wed Sept 22) Describe the contemporary content and or ideas in the chosen example with a 100 word explanation. Image (4 x 5 min) and text clearly printed. 25% of assignment

4) Be prepared to speak about the three choices as to why it is cliché and what is the thematic content presented and discuss what the contemporary art is about, and address those points in a 300 word typed explanation in total (100 words for each category) presented along with the three choices (Due Wed Sept 22) 25% of assignment

5) In addition to clearly printed versions of images and printed typed texts required for group critique (Wed Sept 22) and videotaping (Wed Oct 20). By Wed Oct 20 at 11:30 pm an emailed version of images and text will also be required to be sent to instructor.

Note: Images should correlate with text in a clear manner.

This assignment will require research in the Architecture Fine Arts Library to find examples 2 and 3.

Note: If two or more people have chosen the same imagery or object both people will have to find an alternative source or they will receive a zero on that component of the assignment. Students should check with each other during class to ensure there is no duplication. There will be a sign up sheet in class.

THE “What is Contemporary Art?” ASSIGNMENT (continued)

For Clarification here are some Suggested Readings, Ideas and Topics Regarding Contemporary Art:

Sample of Contemporary Ideas and Terms used in current art practices:





Sexuality (marginalization of people of an alternative sexual orientation or a cultural repression or misrepresentation of sexuality)

Globalism (21st C)


Post-Medium Art (Rosalind Krauss)


Semiotics (signifier and signified)


Environmental Issues





Irony or satire (re-contextualizing something that is cliché, conventional or kitsch

Books at Fine Arts Architecture Library such as:

Brandon Taylor, Contemporary Art since 1970

Michael Archer, Art Since 1960

Edward Lucie-Smith, Art Tomorrow

Artspeak, (dictionary) Robert Atkins

Survey Art History Books at Fine Arts Architecture Library such as:
Marilyn Stokstad, Art: A Brief History 3rd ed. 2007 pages 582-598

Hugh Honour & John Fleming 7th ed. 2005 Chapter 22

Journals at Fine Arts Architecture Library such as:

Art in America

Border Crossings

Art News


Art Forum

Art and Paper

Canadian Art

October (art theory and criticism)

Flash Art


Modern Painters

Art Journal

Yishu  (Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art)

THEMATIC CONTENT (Layers of Meaning):
Thematic content may involve choosing symbols, metaphors, allegories, narratives, myths, icons, motifs or combining some of these choices. Thematic content may also be like a word in a poem where a given word has multiple layers of meaning but connects to the poem’s overall theme.

Definitions of Symbol:
1. The use of symbols to invest things with a representative meaning or to represent something abstract by something concrete
2. The artistic method of revealing ideas or truths through the use of symbols
3. A 19th century literary and artistic movement that sought to evoke, rather than describe, ideas or feelings through the use of symbolic images
4. The belief that the bread and wine used in the Eucharist are symbols and not literally the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. (Many other significant spiritual or non western religious icons could apply)

Definitions of Metaphor:
1. The application of a word or phrase to somebody or something that is not meant literally but to make a comparison, for example, saying that somebody is a snake.
2. All language that involves figures of speech or symbolism and does not literally represent real things.
3. One thing used or considered to represent another.

Definitions of Allegory:
1. A work in which the characters and events are to be understood as representing other things and symbolically expressing a deeper, often spiritual, moral, or political meaning.
2. The symbolic expression of a deeper meaning through a story or scene acted out by human, animal, or mythical characters

Definition of Cliché:
A saying, image, expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, rendering it a stereotype, and or as expected, and or predictable, and or not innovative, and often based on a prior context that no longer has any significance or conceptual substance. A cliché may sometimes be used in a work of fiction for comedic effect, or may be used as a form of irony or ironic critique.

List of People with Chosen Topics as of Mon, Sept 20 
(people are listed in the order information was received by instructor)


Cliche: "Manhattan View, Twilight" by Richard Haas
Thematic: "Maman" by Louise Bourgeois
Contemporary Art: "The Problem Perspective" by Martin Kippenberger

Cliche Art: "La Femme Fleurissante" by Virginia Patrone
Thematic Art: "21st century digital boys" by Alex Cherry
Contemporary Art: "Yes We Can" by Antar Dayal

Cliché: Paul Cézanne, The Three Skulls

Thematic: Vladimir Kush, Winged Satellite
Contemporary: Jitish Kallat, Untitled (Eclipse)

Cliche - Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol
Thematic - This You Call Civilization? by Wangechi Mutu
Contemporary - The Last Judgement in Cyberspace by Miao Xiaochun

CLICHÉ is a picture of Jesus on the cross
THEMATIC image is a photograph of Hunter S. Thompson
CONTEMPORARY piece is an album cover (Frank Zappa's ''Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch'')

Cliché; Tattoo of Skull (image of Thomas Steinberger)
Thematic: “Plenty’s Boast” by Martin Puryear
Contemporary Art: “Mr. and Mrs. Andrews without Their Heads” by Yinka Shonibare.

Cliche: Salvador Dali "The Persistance of Memory"
Thematic: Lin Tianmiao "No. 13- tree"
Contemporary: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith "the Red Mean: Self

Cliché: Mona Lisa
Thematic:  You Cannot Be Happy Everyday, artist: Liu Yin, journal: Yishu (Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art)
Contemporary - Hotel Kyoto, Room 211, artist: Erwin Olaf, journal: Art News

Cliche: Edward Much, The Scream
Thematic: Marta Dahlig, The 7 Deadly Sins
Contemporary: Audrey Kawasaki, Mizuame

Cliché:  picture of a girl with long hair

Cliché: ying-yang symbol
Thematic "A Thousand Symphonies" by Dick Higgins
Contemporary: "Sensations of an Infant Heart" by Walton Ford

Cliche: The Barbie as a Girls Toy.
Thematic: censorship. Photo. Oliver Frost & amp; Marc Massive
Contemporary Art: Artist-Wim Delvoy

Cliche Art: "American Gothic" by Grant Wood
Thematic Art: "Aspects of Negro Life: From Slavery Through Reconstruction" by Aaron Douglas
Contemporary Art: "Electronic Superhighway" by Nam June Paik

Please note some people will be expected to change some of their choices by the date for videotaping/documentation of work. It is important not to have the same artist and or image that someone else has used in the above list for the group critique on Wed Sept 22 as well as the date for videotaping/documentation of work.

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