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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Patricia A Failing
ART H 382
Seattle Campus

Theory and Practice of Art Criticism

Explores the origins, development, decline, and aftermath of modernist visual art criticism in the United States. Emphasizes study of widely circulated critical essays and reviews. Assesses and evaluates categories of critical writing in contemporary art publications and art-historical texts.

Class description

Survey of American visual arts criticism, emphasizing writings from 1945-2000 and the rise and fall of modernist visual arts criticism. Focus is on critics who visit studios, attend exhibitions and write reviews for major publications. Among critics discussed: Roger Fry; Clement Greenberg; Harold Rosenberg; Lucy Lippard; Donald Kuspit; Arthur Danto; Peter Schjeldahl; Roberta Smith

Student learning goals

Recognize and assess key forms of arguments utilized by working critics of modern and contemporary art

Evaluate the role of art critics in establishing the historical identity of major artists

Understand how influential art critics gain (and sometimes lose) positions of influence

Familiarity with major U.S. publications that feature visual arts criticism

General method of instruction

Lecture and informal discussion. The writings of critics discussed will be illustrated with relevant works of art - you will see what the critic saw as we discuss his/her views about the meaning and value of works of art. Among issues considered: how to read art criticism; criticism and the art market; the decline of criticism as value judgment; who gets to be a critic and why.

Recommended preparation

Art History 203, Art History 381, Art History 380, or Art History 384. The class presupposes at least an Art History 203 level background in modern and contemporary art.

Class assignments and grading

Readings from class readings packet.

Grading based on midterm, quiz, short paper (4 pages).


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Patricia A Failing
Date: 02/06/2011