Undergraduate Degree




DD3014 From Modern to Post-Modern Art 1945-1985 ​

[Lectures: 39 hours; Pre-requisites: Nil; Academic Unit: 4.0]




Academic Unit


4 AU

Course Description


The course introduces a series of art forms and ideas, which still pervade the contemporary, 21st century global art world. It examines the cultural and socio-political contexts through which these art forms and ways of thinking about art emerged. The analysis of these artistic contexts is essential for the understanding of a number of parallel situations in contemporary Southeast Asian art.

​Learning Objective

The objective of this course is to introduce the students to an essential period in the history of 20th century art: the moment of transformation from modern to contemporary art. The course is also intended as a historical and conceptual framework for the development of critical thinking and visual analysis regarding today’s art practice.


Following the course DD3005 Survey of Modern Art, 1900-1945, which ends in 1945, the course DD3014 From Modern to Post-Modern Art 1945-1985 completes the full chronology of Art History from the introductory modules that explore the ancient and the classical, right through to modern, post-modern and contemporary forms. The course examines a period of forty years of European and American art history that laid the foundations for today’s art.  It encompasses post-World War II High-Modernism, 1960s and 1970s Anti-Modernism, and 1980s Postmodernism. Broadly chronological in approach, the course begins with an in-depth study of the different forms of Abstract Art in the post-war period, before embarking into a survey across some of the most important artistic movements in the 20th century. It includes Art Brut and Outsider Art, Nouveau Realisme, Pop Art and Photorealism, Op and Kinetic Art, Fluxus and Performance Art, Conceptual Art, Minimalism, Arte Povera, Environmental and Land Art, Neo-Historicism and Graffiti Art. 

New approaches to art making, and critical frameworks used to discuss and interpret modern art will also be considered in relation to the historical contexts in which they were produced, including, but not limited to: the politics of the Cold War period; the rise of consumerism in the 1950s; the civil rights movement and institutional critiques of the 1960s; the, the growth and influence of feminism in the1970s and the crisis of representation and meta-narratives in the1980s.

Course Outline



Lecture Hours​ ​Independent Study Hours​


Introduction: Historical and conceptual outlines of post-World War II European and American art and aesthetics 

3 ​1


New York: the New Centre of Modern Art

3 1


Abstract Expressionism and Art Informel

3 1


Art Brut and Outsider Art 

3 1


Nouveau Realisme

3 1


Op Art and Kinetic Art

3 1


Pop Art and Photorealism

3 1


Conceptual Art 

3 1


Fluxus, Performance and Happening

3 1


Minimalism and Arte Povera 

3 1


Environmental art and Earthworks

3 1


Post-modern Art I: Appropriation and Neo-Historicism  

3 1


Post-Modern Art II: Neo-Pop, Street Art and Graffiti Art

3 1​

Learning Outcome

The students will be able to understand the broad history and chronological developments of late modern, anti-modern and early postmodern art from 1945-1985; to know and apply relevant art-historical and critical theory to the discussion of a wide variety of artifacts and objects; and to develop communication skills, including critical thinking and writing abilities and confident verbal articulation of ideas.​

Student Assessment

Continuous Assessment (100%)​ 

Students will be assessed on:

  1. Group Seminars (30%): Development of close critical analyses of the work of specific artists;

  2. Individual Written Assignment (45%): Extended essay in which a case study (artist, artworks, exhibition, etc.) would be analysed under the artistic, historical and conceptual repertoire studied and developed in the course;

  3. Class Quiz (10%)

  4. Class Participation (15%): Students will be assessed on their participation in class discussions and showing of initiative in class activities.​

Recommended Reading:​

  • ​​Barr, Alfred Hamilton. Defining Modern Art: Selected Writings of Alfred H. Barr, Jr, New York: Abrams, 1986
  • Eagleton, Terry. The Illusions of Postmodernism, Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1996

  • Fabozzi, Paul F. Artists, Critics, Context: Readings in and Around American art Since 1945, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, c2002

  • Fabozzi, Paul F. Artists, Critics, Context: Readings in and Around American art Since 1945, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, c2002

  • Jones, Amelia. A Companion to Contemporary Art Since 1945, Oxford: Blackwell Pub., 2006

  • Joselit, David. American Art Since 1945, London: Thames & Hudson, 2003

  • Foster, Hal. Art Since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism, London: Thames & Hudson, 2004

  • Hopkins, David. Modern Art: 1945-2000, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000

  • Loesberg, Jonathan. A Return to Aesthetics: Autonomy, Indifference, and Postmodernism, California: Stanford University Press, 2005​

  • Lucie-Smith, Edward. Movements in Art Since 1945, New York: Thames & Hudson, 2001

  • Hills, Patricia. Modern Art in the USA: Issues and Controversies of the 20th century, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, c2001

  • Terraroli, Valerio (Ed.). The Art of the 20th Century: 1969-1999: Neo-avant-gardes, Postmodern and Global Art, Milan: Skira, 2009

  • Wood, Paul, Francis Frascina, Jonathan Harris and Charles Harrison. Modernism in Dispute: Art Since the Forties, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993​