AR316 Modern Art

for FA 2011

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AR 316 Modern Art


FA 2011 HO


Lee, Andrea K


Adjunct Faculty



Office Hours

By appointment

Other Phone

(816) 584-6263 (School of Arts and Humanities)


Semester Dates

Fall 2011

Class Days


Class Time

4:30-5:45 PM

Credit Hours



Required Text:  H.H. Arnason and Elizabeth C. Mansfield, History of Modern Art, 6th Edition. Prentice Hall, 2010. ISBN # 0-13-606206-7

Supplemental Reading: Henry M. Sayre, Writing About Art, 5th edition; Sylvan Barnet, A Short Guide to Writing About Art, 9th Edition;  and Terry Barrett, Criticizing Art: Understanding the Contemporary, 2nd Edition. Supplemental books are on reserve at the library. Students do not need to purchase supplemental books, but may find them useful for the writing assignment and course content.

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

ArtStor is an online database with thousands of art images. You may access ArtStor through the Park University library website. 

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
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Course Description:
AR 316 Modern Art (LL), Course Description:  The study of modern painting, sculpture and architecture from the late nineteenth century to the present. Gallery tours are combined with slide-lecture instruction.

About this course:  This survey class is designed to educate students about the major artists and styles of modern art, especially in European and some non-Western traditions. Artists, styles and significant movements in the visual arts from late nineteenth century to the present will be considered. We will also discuss terms and methods for formal, critical analysis of visual works.  

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Use the specialized vocabulary of art and architecture to discuss, both orally and in writing, their responses to art.
  2. Recognize and identify the special stylistic characteristics of the arts from the late nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries.
  3. Recognize artistic quotations as used in a wide variety of contemporary American media (film, advertisements, and product design).
  4. Connect modern/contemporary art to specific historical events, culture, religion, and literature.
  5. Observe art with greater perception (a “trained eye”) and an ability to begin interpreting both its form and its content.
  6. Respond critically to works of art.

Core Assessment:
  • The paper should be 5 –10 pages in length. (double-spaced, 12 pt Arial or Times New Roman font)
  • Your focus will be on a single artist, and preferably focused on a single work of art by that artist, though other objects may be discussed comparatively.
  • RESEARCH is necessary, as well as a trip to the museum of your choice. If you have a slightly different type of subject in mind, you must clear this with me first.

Your Trip to the Museum:

You will choose a work of art from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art or the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. You can find directions to the museums and a list of their operating hours at or The Nelson-Atkins museum is NOT open on Mondays. You will need to bring:

  • a pad of paper
  • a pencil - The museum will not allow you to use a pen in the gallery. 
  • a few extra sheets of paper for sketching. Your sketches do not need to be professional or finished, so any blank sheet of paper will do. 
  • the handout I will give you, copied from A Survival Guide for Art History Students, by Christina Maranci. Chapter 3, “Putting Words to Images: Mastering the Response Essay,” pp. 33 –70. This will help you with note-taking particularly.

Choose an appropriate work of art! The date, period, and place of origin should be relevant and fall within the parameters of our class. Choose a work of art that engages you intellectually or emotionally.

Plan on spending a minimum of 40 minutes with the object you choose.  This is 40 minutes of quality looking, not discussion with a friend. My suggestions will take you 45 minutes to 1 hour:

  • 1.      look at the object for at least 15 minutes (no notes yet)
  • 2.      then take as many notes as you can (to make things easier, the Survival Guide handout has listed questions to ask yourself while taking notes)
  • 3.      take a break to walk around, stretch, get a drink
  • 4.      look at the object again for another 15 minutes (you will be more perceptive the second time around)
  • 5.      take notes again
  • 6.      try sketching the object (this doesn’t have to be good but will miraculously seem to point out to you additional observations about the object) 

It is often helpful to come back another day to look again, but this is not necessary to complete the assignment, particularly if you follow my suggestions and take good notes.

The Paper Itself:

This exercise is partly a response essay and partly a research paper. You will visit the museum, choose a work of art, and write an analytical essay based on what you can see, and then place that work within the artist’s overall career. 

Looking is not as simple as you may think. Rather than merely describe the object, you will want to analyze its form. You need to ask yourself the questions:

  • “What is this doing?”
  • “Why do I have this response?”

The challenge is to analyze a work of art, separating its parts in order to understand the whole. You must resist the urge to merely describe, and instead evaluate the object.   Further insights and instructions can be found in A Survival Guide for Art History Students, by Christina Maranci. Chapter 3, “Putting Words to Images: Mastering the Response Essay,” pp. 33 –70.

The research is going to be fairly straightforward and simple. Research the artist’s life and other works of art you can find by that artist. Relate your work to others by that artist and/or by other artist’s in his time period.

If you already had something else in mind, please advance your ideas to me by e-mail. I am flexible regarding this paper as long as you have a special interest in changing the subject type or format. Some of you have already discussed these ideas with me.

Your book Looking and Writing will be extremely helpful to you in this enterprise!

Sample Organization of the Paper: (further explanations and examples can be found in the Survival Guide handout)

1.      The Introduction

a.      Write a Short Description of the Work You Have Chosen. Include identifying subject matter or forms, setting or space, color, and medium.  
b.      State Your Main Argument. A thesis statement related to the overall effect or meaning of the object.
c.      State (Briefly) the Ways in Which You Will Prove It.
2.      The Main Body (a detailed description/analysis including, but not limited to, the following):

a.      The work of art you are focusing on

i.      Discuss the Medium, the medium’s traits, and the artist’s use of the medium
ii.      Discuss the relevant formal elements (i.e.: line, shape and space, composition and relative scale, light and color, style)
iii.      Discuss the composition (i.e.: unity/variety, balance, emphasis, focal point)
iv.      Discuss the relationship the formal elements and composition have to the subject’s meaning (or overall effect).

b.      The artist
         i.      Brief discussion of artist’s life and career
         ii.      Comparison to a few other works of art by our artist (if relevant)
         iii.      Comparison of his work to the work of other artists (if relevant)

3.      The Conclusion.

a.      Restate the Main Argument
b.      Place this work of art into the big picture. Relate it to a larger issue, art-historical movement, etc.

4.      Attach an image of the object (This can be a postcard purchased from the museum bookstore, a photograph, or your sketch.)


Don’t forget to include the objective information somewhere within the paper: creator (artist/culture/period); date; medium; size; exhibition/museum/collection. Most, if not all, will be available on the museum label found near the object.

 Mechanics of the Paper:

  • 5 –10 pages in length
  • Double-spaced
  • 12 pt. font, Arial or Times New Roman
  • Pages numbered
  • Proper organization, complete sentences, grammar, punctuation, spelling and word choice

Remember that less-than-graceful writing will count strongly against you, as well as misspellings and typos and other signs of carelessness. Nothing puts a grader in a worse mood than the evidence that the writer has so little self-respect or respect for the reader that she or he hasn’t bothered to correct the smallest of mistakes.  Proofread.  It helps to have someone read over your “final” version before you print it out.  You’d be amazed at what you miss. 

You can find further hints on writing art papers from these sources on reserve:

A Short Guide to Writing about Art, by Sylvan Barnet. 3rd edition.

A Survival Guide for Art History Students, by Christina Maranci. Chapter 3, “Putting Words to Images: Mastering the Response Essay,” pp. 33 –70.

Look! The Fundamentals of Art History, by Anne D’Alleva. Chapter 3, “Writing art-history papers,” pp. 64 –69.

Link to Class Rubric

Class Assessment:

Course Requirements and Grading:

 There will be one written assignment, worth 15 points, and four exams, each worth 20 percent of your final grade. Participation in the class, including the required attendance and readings, is worth 5 points. Students must complete all sections of the class in order to receive credit for the course.

            Exam #1 – 20 points

            Exam #2 – 20 points

Exam #3 – 20 points

Exam #4 – 20 points

            5-10 page written assignment - 15 points

            Participation – 5 points

            Total Points Possible: 100


Grading Scale:

90-100 points: A- to A, Excellent

80-90 points:   B- to B+, Above Average

70-80 points:   C- to C+, Average

60-70 points:   D- to D+, Below Average

0-60   points:   F, Failing grade

Late Submission of Course Materials:

Exams:  With rare exceptions, late exams or make-up exams are not allowed.  Exceptions to make-up exams are at the discretion of the instructor. The final exam is not comprehensive.

Writing AssignmentTurning in a rough draft is encouraged but is optional. Due dates for paper are on course calendar. Late papers will be downgraded 1/2 letter grade each day the paper is overdue.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:
Please respect our learning environment.  Appropriate classroom conduct is expected, including refraining from excessive noise, texting or other disruptive behaviors.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:


Arnason= History of Modern Art, 6th Edition


Week 1                               M  8/15:  Introduction, Origins of Modern Art 

(Aug. 15-19)                                      Arnason, Ch. 1, pp.1-16

                              W  8/17: Early Photography, Realism and Impressionism

                                   Arnason, Ch. 2, pp.17-50


Week 2                               M 8/22:  Post-Impressionism

(Aug. 22-26)                                      Arnason, Ch. 3, pp. 51-81

                      W 8/24: Art Nouveau, Beginning Expressionism

                                    Arnason, Ch. 5, pp.94-109


Week 3                           M 8/29: New Century: Experiments in Color and Form

(Aug. 29-31)                                     Arnason, Ch. 6, pp.110-132

                      W 8/31: German Expressionism

                                    Arnason, Ch. 7, pp.133-157

Week 4                                M 9/05:  Labor Day Holiday – No Class

 (Sept. 5-9)                              W 9/07: African Art and Cubism

                                                            Arnason, Ch. 8, pp.158-192


Week 5                                     M 9/12: Cubism, European Responses to Cubism

                                                     Arnason, Ch. 10, pp. 206-234

(Sept. 12-16)                            W 9/14: EXAM #1, Wednesday, Sept. 14th (Covers lectures Weeks 1-5,

                                                             Readings from Arnason, Chapters 1-3, 5-10)   


Week 6                                     M 9/19: Western Europe during World War I

                                     Arnason, Ch. 11, pp. 253-263

(Sept. 19-23)                         W 9/21: Art in Europe Post World War I

                                                              Arnason, Ch. 12, pp. 264-284

Week 7                                    M 9/26: Geometric Abstraction and de Stijl 

                                  Arnason, Ch. 13, pp. 285-296

(Sept. 5-9)                                W 9/28: Bauhaus and Modernism   

                                                             Arnason, Ch. 14, pp.297-317

Week 8                                    M 10/03: Bauhaus, Surrealism

                                                             Arnason, Ch. 15, pp.318-359

(Oct. 3-7)                                W  10/05: Surrealism 



Week 9                         M 10/10: EXAM #2 Monday, Oct. 10th (Covers lectures 

                                                           Weeks 5-9, Readings from Arnason, Chapters 11-15)

(Oct. 10-14)                            W 10/12: American Art before World War II 

                                                            Arnason, Ch. 16, pp.360-402

Week 10                               M 10/17: American Art before World War II 

                                                           (Optional) Rough draft for writing assignment due   

(Oct. 17-21)                            W 10/19: Abstract Expressionism

                                                            Arnason, Ch. 17, pp. 403-438

Week 11                                 M 10/24: Abstract Expressionism 

(Oct. 24-26)                     W 10/26: Postwar European Art

                                                   Arnason, Ch. 18, pp.439-471

Week 12                             M 10/31: Nouveau Realisme and Pop Art

(Oct. 31-Nov.4)                                   Arnason, Ch. 19, pp. 472-517       

                       W 11/02: 1960’s Abstraction

                           Arnason, Ch. 20, pp.518-556

Week 13                                 M 11/07: Conceptual Art and Activist Art

                                                           Arnason, Ch. 22, pp.587-614

(Nov. 7-11)                            W 11/09: EXAM #3 Wednesday, Nov. 9th   (Covers lectures 

                                                           Weeks 9-13, Readings from Arnason, Chapters 16-22)                                         

Week 14                                 M 11/14: Post-Minimalism

(Nov. 14-18)                                        Arnason, Ch. 23, pp. 615   

 W 11/16: Postmodernism

                                                          Arnason, Ch. 24, pp. 658-694

                                                          Writing assignment due by Wednesday, Nov. 16th



Week 15                                 M 11/21: Painting through History

                                                           Arnason, Ch. 25, pp. 695-723

(Nov. 21-25)                           W 11/23: Contemporary Art and Modernism

                                Arnason, Ch. 26, pp. 724-743

             (Thanksgiving 11/24-Have a happy holiday!) 



Week 16                                 M 11/28 Contemporary Art and Globalization

(Nov. 28-Dec. 2)                                Arnason, Ch. 27, pp. 744-773

          W 11/30: Contemporary Art and Globalization

Finals Week

(Dec. 5-9)                  M 12/5 Final Exam, 3:15-5:15 p.m.    EXAM #4 is not comprehensive          

                                              (Covers  lectures Weeks 14-16, Arnason, Chapters 23-27     

*Some dates may be subject to change.

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Academic honesty is expected of all students.  All forms of academic dishonesty such as cheating, copying work from another student, or plagiarism, are strictly forbidden. The policy of Park University concerning cheating and plagiarism will be strictly followed in this class.

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 93
Academic honesty is expected of all students.  All forms of academic dishonesty such as cheating, copying work from another student, or plagiarism, are strictly forbidden. The policy of Park University concerning cheating and plagiarism will be strictly followed in this class.

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Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
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  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
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Directions to Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art


CompetencyExceeds Expectation (3)Meets Expectation (2)Does Not Meet Expectation (1)No Evidence (0)
Discusses all relevant formal elements: line, shape and space, composition and relative scale, light and color, style. Discusses all relevant composition or design principles most significant for work: unity/variety, balance, emphasis, focal point. Discusses some formal elements.

Discusses some composition or design principles.

Mentions some formal elements, no discussion.

Mentions some composition or design principles, no discussion.

Does not mention formal elements.

No mention of composition or design principles.

Introduction contains good brief overall description: identifying subject matter or forms, setting or space, color, medium, and main argument Introduction contains both description and main argument, but description is missing basic components or main argument is inappropriate. Introduction is missing either the description or the main argument altogether. No description or argument. 
Explains special properties of the medium and analyzes the artist's use of medium. Explains properties of medium but no analysis of artist's use of medium. No understanding of medium employed; incorrect facts. No discussion of medium (even if mentioned). 
All 3 are relevant

Appropriateness of the object: date, period, and place of origin are relevant and fall within parameters of class.

2 of the 3 are relevant. 1 of the 3 is relevant. No relevance. 
Content of Communication                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
All objective information included: creator (artist/culture/period), date, medium, size, exhibition/museum/collection.

Image included by postcard, photo, or sketch.

Only one omission from the objective information. Two or more omissions from the objective information. No objective information. 
Technical Skill in Communicating                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Met all the parameters of the paper: 2-5 pages, double-spaces, 12 pt Arial or Times font.

Complete sentences, grammar, punctuation, spelling and word choice. Meaningful organization of content: clear introduction, main body, and conclusion.

2 of the 3 parameters met.

2 to 3 errors

1-2 errors

1 of the 3 parameters met.

4 to 5 errors

3 or 4 errors

No parameters met.

Over 5 errors

More than 4 errors.



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Last Updated:8/8/2011 2:28:57 PM