Special Topics in Art History


Pop Art in the Americas: Art, Music, Media, and Politics

Special Topics in Art History. One course

This course introduces students to Pop Art from countries including Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, and the United States. Combining independent and collaborative research and analysis of artworks, the class will work together to contribute to an exhibit being planned for the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke. The class is open to all students, including freshmen and sophomores. No prior knowledge of art history or Latin America is required. The class is associated with the Global Brazil Lab at the FHI, and will be held there. (http://sites.fhi.duke.edu/globalbrazil/). Pop artists engaged youth culture, grass roots movements, experimental schools and universities, advertising, and mass media in the 1960s and 1970s. Most of all, they struggled over what it means to be popular and what it means to be free. During these decades, the American continent from South to North saw repressive military and political party dictatorships, and violent struggles over Civil Rights. At the same time, some economists and politicians celebrated the “free market” and “freedom of choice.” As we examine Pop Art of the Americas, then, we will talk about when these ideas of popular expression and freedom are valued, and when they are considered dangerous. We will also talk about the tensions and collaborations between North and South America. We will read and study exhibition catalogues, which will provide necessary information but also provide a model of how research is done and presented to an art-viewing public. We will be also engaged with interdisciplinary research in the history and politics of the region during the period featured in the exhibition. In addition to putting together historical information about specific works of art and artists, you will be asked to make an argument for or against an artwork’s inclusion in the exhibition. You will have the opportunity to do this research both individually and in small groups, as in a real museum setting exhibition curatorial practice is both collaborative and individual. Note: any students with sufficient language skills in Spanish or Portuguese will be given the opportunity, and special mentoring, to do research in those languages.