Art Today ART 1001
Syllabus Fall 2014

Mon/Wed 9:00-9:50 Bohannan Hall 90, plus one online lecture per week
Rob Wittig
Office: MonH 234 Phone: 726.7545
Office Hours: Mon 10-11:30, Tue 2-3:30 or by appointment
Course Moodle Website:
Course Content Outline:

NOTE: As part of UMD's ongoing exploration of the use of technology, this class will meet in the lecture hall only twice per week, on Mondays and Wednesdays. The third lecture of every week will be accessible in the course Moodle website ( beginning on Fridays and can be watched any time during the next week. The online lectures are required and will contain test material.


This general education course aims to: increase awareness of the range and complexity of contemporary visual art; provide a basic understanding of critical issues and analysis methods; and examine artworks produced in the U. S. and Europe in their broad geographic and cultural contexts. To do this, the course will develop a chronology of the ideas, events and personalities that have formed contemporary art. We will explore how artists have both shaped and been shaped by the world around them.


Your learning in the course will be evaluated by five grading situations: a 50 point "pre-test" which will accustom you to my testing format, two 100 point non-cumulative examinations which are based on lecture material, and a 200 point class notebook and critical writing collection (see back of this sheet ). Specific dates for the examinations will be announced in class.


The Final Examination (the 3rd 100 point exam) will be given Thursday, December 18th, 8:00am in Boh90.


Purchase of the specific class sketchbook packet designed for this class, including drawing materials and available at the bookstore, is required. Find it upstairs in the Art Supplies section of the UMD bookstore.


Approximate Lecture Schedule:

Weeks 1-4: Basic terms/Background for Modernism, through Impressionism

Weeks 5-8: Early Euro & U.S. Modernism, through De Stijl (Pre-Test in Week 6; Exam 1 in Week 8)

Week 9 - 11: Modernism since mid-century, through Pop Art (Exam 2 in week 12)

Weeks 12-15: Post-Modernism, remainder of outline (Final Exam during Finals Week)


Class notebook and critical writing collection due Wednesday December 10th, in class.


If you miss class, you are responsible for informing yourself, from fellow students, about information announced in class --- no exceptions.

It is the policy and practice of the University of Minnesota Duluth to create inclusive learning environments for all students, including students with disabilities. If there are aspects of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion or your ability to meet course requirements – such as time limited exams, inaccessible web content, or the use of non-captioned videos – please notify the instructor as soon as possible. You are also encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Resources to discuss and arrange reasonable accommodations. Please call 218- 726-6130 or visit the DR website at for more information.


Academic dishonesty (cheating, plagiarism, etc.) is regarded as a serious offense by all members of the UMD academic community. This course adheres strictly to UMD's Student Academic Integrity Policy, which can be found at


Use of any electronic devices during class is prohibited, including phones, mp3 players, and computers.


No talking during class except with permission of the instructor. The instructor will enforce and students are expected to follow the University's Student Conduct Code ( Disruptive classroom behavior that substantially or repeatedly interrupts either the instructor's ability to teach, or student learning, including unauthorized use of electronic devices, is prohibited by the code.


Drawing is encouraged! You are encouraged to do additional drawings, in your sketchbook, of work by artists shown in class, over and above the required drawings.


Class Sketchbook

You are required to buy the notebook and pencil packet prepared by the bookstore. During lectures, you will be assigned to make drawings and notes about specific artworks. Drawings must fill the entire page. Notes most often include: number of the work given in class, name of artist, name of work (if known), approximate date, and name of the relevant art movement. Your notebook will be graded on: inclusion of all the numbered drawings and notes in order (see above). Your drawing will not be graded on its finished quality, but on your willingness to experiment with drawing, be playful withdrawing, and the improvement of your drawing. If you experiment and play, you will improve --- guaranteed! Your sketchbook is due Wednesday December 10th, in class. Always bring your notebook to class: random checks of notebooks will be done during the semester, and points deducted for incomplete drawings and notes. The notebook counts for 150 points.


Critical Writing Assignments

Your critical writing collection will consist of your direct responses to art you see displayed in museums and art galleries. You will make four visits to a museum or gallery throughout the semester. On each of these trips you will take one page of handwritten notes in your class notebook while looking at the art. Then, after each trip, you will write at least one full page of critical writing based on your notes and research with no illustrations, double spaced with 12 pt. Font. The critical writing is worth 50 points. The exact locations and exhibitions you will visit will be announced in class. Note: some of the art will be on display for only a limited time; you must visit the show when indicated; if you miss an exhibition there will be no make-up or substitutions. All eight pages of this assignment --- four pages of notebook notes, four pages of printed critical writing --- are due Wednesday December 10th, in class. Put your typewritten pages inside the front cover of your class notebook.

__Art Visit One: Getting to Know One Work
Select one art work from the exhibition indicated. Pick one that you react to strongly --- positively or negatively. On your note sheet write: What I know (write the title, artist's name, date, any other information from the information card in the gallery or museum handouts) What I see (a basic physical description of the object) What I feel (words describing your emotional reaction to the work) What I think (Is it cool? Is it lame? Is it gross? Is it smart? Would I like it in my house? Is it original? A copycat? etc.) In your page of printed text, use your notes to identify and the work and explain your reaction.

__Art Visit Two: Time Travel: Art from Another Era

Select one art work from the exhibition indicated. The work must have been created at least 50 years ago. On your note sheet write your notes answering the four "What" questions above.Then answer the question: What are some differences between that time in history and now? In your page of printed text, use your notes to describe the work and show how the work points out differences between that time and now.

__Art Visit Three: History Detective; Find the Influences in a Contemporary Work
Select one art work from the exhibition indicated. The work must have been created within the last ten years. On your note sheet write your notes answering the four "What" questions above, then answer the question: which art movement or movements discussed in class influenced this work? In your page of printed text, use your notes to describe the work and show which movements influenced it.

__Art Visit Four: You're the Critic: Review an Art Show
Visit the exhibition indicated. On your note sheet write your notes answering the four "What" questions above about the entire show, then answer the question: would I recommend that someone see this exhibition and why or why not? Treat your page of printed text like a review in the local paper; make your case, thumbs up or thumbs down, and explain why.


Your critical writing grade will be weighted as follows:
70% content: sophistication and accuracy of your descriptions of art, ability to respond with both rational and emotional intelligence to artworks, and ability to make art-historical connections. 30% mechanics: grammar, spelling, and correct citation of sources. Maximum grade for the writing will drop one letter grade for each day late. I am happy to help review outlines & rough drafts and help in any way I can prior to the assignment due date.