Course syllabus


Lectures: Mondays 2-4 /Tutorials: Weds  11-12 (Stage 2) and  Weds 12-1 (Stage 3)

Coordinator: Associate Professor Greg Minissale

You are welcome to email me if you want to find out any information about this course, ALL LECTURES ARE RECORDED.

Description and overview:

I have been teaching this course for 10 years and always have the best student evaluations and outcomes, and this is an area of research that I am an expert in, with a major work on modernism due for publication in 2019. Consequently, this course has access to the latest world-class research available on modernism. The rise of modernism saw the development of art which draws attention to itself and its facture, as well as the illusion of representation, making us reflect on what art is, and how it affects the viewer. Many different kinds of art utilised strategies to address the viewer and to explore subjective responses involved in viewing. This course is designed to enable students to develop their own critical awareness through a study of the major movements of the Twentieth Century, such as Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop and Conceptual Art, Performance and contemporary art.

The course aims to show that an important function of art is to enhance the ability to see the world from a number of different perspectives increasing the breadth and depth of a viewer’s self-awareness. An essential, underlying theme is how the viewer’s vision is addressed and explored in the art of the Twentieth Century, and how the gaze is related to the construction of the viewer’s own identity. Not only do the art works of these different periods challenge the viewer imaginatively to adopt a multiplicity of identities and roles, they also reflect back different conceptual, emotional, psychological, political and social ways of seeing.

Trying to frame or target the viewer’s responses, needs and realities in art has a long history. In this course we will focus on FOUR major approaches:

 - Social and historical context

 - Facture and technique

 - Sensory perception and emotional responses

 - Conceptual and philosophical responses


Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this course students will have a deep and nuanced understanding of modernism and the meaning of art. They will have acquired the skills to discuss art meaningfully, and to channel these insights into new and creative ways of thinking and exploring vision and the visual world

Students will learn how to structure arguments and compose thoughts in spoken and written form that add strength and clarity to communication and presentation.

Students will gain a deeper understanding of how art is an essential medium for the exploration and expression of diversity: of ideas, lifestyles, attitudes, social and cultural identities and political perspectives.

Students will gain confidence in exercising independent and critical thought and will learn about some of the most important "C-skills" valued by employers, academics, designers, artists, psychologists and theorists. These are Communication, Creativity, Curiosity, Collaboration and Caring about others. I hope we can learn to value the freedom that emerges from questioning dogma, tradition and prejudice.

The three main texts recommended for this course are:

David Hopkins, After Modern Art 1945-2000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)

Christopher Green, Art in France 1900-1940 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000)

Gregory Minissale, The Psychology of Contemporary Art (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013)


The University of Auckland's expectation on 15-point courses, is that students spend 10 hours per week on the course. Students manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Students attend two hours of lectures each week and participate in a one-hour tutorial from week 2 of semester. This leaves seven hours per week outside the classroom to prepare for tutorials, assignments and the exam.

Deadlines and submission of coursework:

Deadlines for coursework are non-negotiable. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension but you will be required to provide a doctor's certificate before the assignment is due. All late assignments without a pre-approved extension will be penalised one mark per day late.

Assignment Dates and General Information


WEEK 6 Test 


WEEK 7  Essays to be handed in first week after semester break

Test (25%) 60 minutes

Stage 2 test:  must write about 4 images which will be shown on the day. A revision pool of 6 images will be made available in week 4. Students should try and structure the answers addressing some (not all) of the points which feature in the 4 approaches in the course (Social and historical/sensory and emotional/facture/conceptual and philosophical).


Stage 3 test: do two essays, 1 artist and 2 images per essay (they should revise their own choice of images, they will not be given images in the test). Students should discuss some (not all) of the points which feature in the 4 approaches in the course (Social and historical/sensory and emotional/facture/conceptual and philosophical).


Essay (25%) minimum 1500 words for Stage II and minimum 2000 words Stage III

Exam (50%) See modules for details later in the course. We usually have Stage III answering two essays on movements and artists of their choice and we coach them very carefully on how to structure essays using methods of visual analysis. Stage II describe images in part one and answer two short essay questions in part two. They are also trained to use methods of visual analysis and keywords and concepts. THINK: what a treasure to learn VISUAL INTELLIGENCE!

Essay questions here:


Course book for printing:

Framing the Viewer2019.doc



Course summary:

Date Details