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I began teaching at UCLA Extension in June 2013. To date, I have served as Adjunct Professor or instructor at the following: University of California, Irvine; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies; the University of Miami (Coral Gables, Florida); the University of Guelph (Guelph, Ontario); Hunter College of the City of New York; and the New School for Social Research, New York. In addition to the courses outlined below, my university classes have included “Dada and Surrealism,” “Minimalism and After,” “Pop Art since 1960” and “Museum Studies: History, Theory and Practice.”
Charles White: History as Protest
Course Summary and Schedule
This class will examine the art of Charles White in the context of two exhibitions: Charles White: A Retrospective at LACMA and Life Model: Charles White and his Students, presented at the original Otis Art Institute campus where the artist was the first African American faculty member, now the Charles White Elementary School and a LACMA satellite.
Although Charles White (1918-1979) was one of the most influential African American artists of the twentieth century, his work is not widely known. The artist’s traveling retrospective, which originated at New York’s MOMA, is the first major exhibition devoted to his art in over 35 years. Organized chronologically, the retrospective covers the entirety of his career and illuminates his desire to forefront African American history, experience, and struggle for equality. White’s work reaches into the past, while also responding to the tumultuous events and cultural episodes of 20th century America. A superbly gifted painter, draftsman, and printmaker, he remained committed to a content-laden representational style at a time when the art world favored abstraction. His deeply humanist, socially conscious work has particular resonance amid today’s national dialogues about race, gender, labor, and individual freedom.
This class will examine White’s education and development, finding sources for his work in earlier art history, the range extending from El Greco to Picasso’s Cubism to Soviet Socialist Realism, the Mexican muralists, the American Regionalists, and beyond. Sources for his art and thought resided in the political and social commentary of his day, in literature and poetry, as well as in the art and photography of his contemporaries, many of whom were close personal friends (i.e., the photographers Gordon Parks and Roy Decarava were friends and the remarkable sculptor Elizabeth Catlett was his first wife, 1941-46). White’s art and its reception will also be considered as he moved from place to place (Chicago, New York, the South, Mexico, and the Soviet Union being the sites where he lived or travelled), until he settled in Southern California in 1956. The Los Angeles art scene at that time and into the ’60s and ’70s, with particular regard for African American art, will be extensively considered. As a highly accomplished artist and instructor at Otis, White profoundly influenced a younger generation of emerging artists. Among his students whose work will be discussed are David Hammons, Kerry James Marshall, Kent Twitchell, and Judithe Hernandez.
Class #1, Wednesday, February 6, 6:00-8:00, UCLA Extension, Gayley Center classroom
Class #2 Wed., Feb. 13, 6:00-8:00, UCLA Extension, Gayley Center classroom
Class #3 Wed. , Feb. 20, 6:00-8:00, UCLA Extension, Gayley Center classroom
Class #4 Saturday, Feb. 23, 11:00-12:30, Instructor-led tour of Charles White: A Retrospective at LACMA
Class #5 Sat., March 2, 11:00-12;30, Instructor-led tour of Life Model: Charles White and his Students, Charles White Elementary School Gallery in MacArthur Park, 2401 Wilshire Blvd.
Jasper Johns: On Target
This class engaged in an in-depth study of the work of Jasper Johns, arguably the most influential and important artist of the latter half of the 20th Century. From the Flags, Targets, and paintings of familiar objects presented in his first solo show of 1958 to his newest work in various media seen in galleries today, Johns has produced work gorgeous in execution and rich and multi-layered in concept. Gaining an understanding of his art and the trajectory of his development is rewarding indeed and sheds light on significant work by others who came before and followed after.
This course was offered on the occasion of the comprehensive retrospective Jasper Johns: “Something Resembling Truth,” presented at The Broad from February 10th to May 13th, 2018. A group visit to the exhibition was included as part of the class.
I have written and lectured extensively on Johns since the early 1980s. For access to some of my writing on Johns, click here.
Los Angeles, New York and Beyond: The Dwan Gallery and its Impact
Founded in Westwood in 1959, Virginia Dwan’s gallery introduced Angelinos to cutting edge art from New York and Paris, presenting groundbreaking exhibitions by abstract expressionists, neo-dadaists, pop artists and nouveau realistes, among them Franz Klein, Ad Reinhardt, Philip Guston, Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, Yves Klein and Martial Raysse. In 1965, Dwan established a second space in New York where she pioneered a series of influential movements from minimalism to conceptual art to land art with exhibitions devoted to the work of Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, Agnes Martin, Robert Ryman, Michael Heizer and Robert Smithson, among others. Dwan emerged as a visionary patron of earthworks during this period, sponsoring such monumental projects as Walter de Maria’s Lightening Field, Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, and Heizer’s City (begun 1972 and finally nearing completion).
This class will take as its point of focus the exhibition, New York to Los Angeles: Dwan Gallery, 1959-1971, which will be presented at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 19-September 10, 2017. Classroom lectures and museum visits will be devoted to examining the art movements Dwan supported and the work of the individual artists her galleries exhibited. Due to the nature of her artistic sponsorship, the class will offer a quasi-survey of art historical tendencies from the late-fifties to the early seventies. 4 sessions.
Doug Aitken’s Art in Context
This class takes as its point of focus Doug Aitken: Electric Earth, an exhibition at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA that offers the opportunity to review work of the past twenty years by this groundbreaking Los Angeles-based artist. Aitken is best known for his pioneering work in video art, which not only rethinks the parameters of video in terms of the architectural spaces it might inhabit, but also with regard to narrative and content. Any number of other artists, among them Bill Viola, Diana Thater, Pipilloti Rist and Ragnar Gunnarsson, also work with multi-screen video projections and Aitken’s work will be compared with theirs. Aitken’s artistic practice also includes photo-based work, sculpture, collage, Earthworks, multi-media performance, participation pieces and more and these too will be related to work by his contemporaries. It will be seen that while parallels maybe drawn between Aitken’s art and that of others, there is much that is unique and that sets his work apart. Defining these qualities will be among the class’s aim as the exhibition is explored in depth.
See my post on Doug Aitken: Electric Earth among the blogs on this website.
Exploring The Broad In Depth
Eli and Edythe Broad have been building their collection of postwar and contemporary art over the past five decades and the museum devoted to their collection opened in a building designed by the world renowned architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro in September 2015. This class will meet for each its 3 sessions in the space of the museum where we explore the masterworks included in the inaugural installation. Like the exhibition itself, we will begin with works by major artists who came to prominence in the 1950s and then move on to Pop Art, an area of considerable depth in the collection. Moving to the 1980s and ’90s, the rich concentration of works by artists such as Cindy Sherman, Glenn Ligon, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons will be examined. Finally, art from the millenium to the present by Takashi Murakami, Mark Bradford, Thomas Struth, Yayoi Kusama and Ragnar Kjartansson, installed on the museum’s first floor, will be discussed in detail.
Assemblage and Collage Then and Now
This class explores the history of assemblage and collage from its origins in Picasso’s atelier in Paris in the early years of the Twentieth Century to the studios of artists working a century later in present-day Los Angeles. One particular point of focus will be the international wave of Assemblage or “junk sculpture” that culminated with the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition The Art of Assemblage, held in New York in 1961. Another will be the continuing legacy of Los Angeles-based African American artists who exploit found and castoff objects in their work. Apropos of the latter, it is highly recommended that students who plan to enroll in the class visit the following two exhibitions that close just before the class begins: Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Mark Bradford: Scorched Earth at the UCLA Hammer Museum (both through September 27, 2015).
The Art of the Print: 1960 to Today
This class focuses on printmaking in the United States, from the so-called “Print Renaissance” of the early 1960s, when studios began to flourish on the east and west coasts, to the present day, when artists are increasingly producing prints digitally, independent of established workshops. Two classroom sessions are devoted to investigating the rise of the print as an integral aspect of a contemporary artist’s body of work. The fundamental processes and terms associated with printmaking are explored. Two additional meetings are held off-site, one at the historic printmaking workshop Gemini G.E.L. on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, and the other at the U.C.L.A. Hammer Museum’s Grunwald Center, where prints from this major collection can be directly seen and examined. The instructor, Roni Feinstein, Ph.D., is a regular contributor to Print Quarterly. 4 sessions.
Understanding Abstract Painting Today
Using the Los Angeles County Museum’s exhibition, Variations: Conversations In and Around Abstract Painting, as a point of focus, this course examines the roots of abstraction in 20th century art, explores its range of form and content, and considers the manner in which artists working in the early 21st century have been reanimating the techniques, forms, and meaning of abstract paintings, many of them doing so through the use of collaged imagery and materials. A particular area of concentration is women artists working in this mode, among them Mary Weatherford, Lesley Vance, Amy Sillman, Dona Nelson, and Laura Owens. Other artists discussed range from Wassily Kandinsky and Jackson Pollock to Gerhard Richter, Christopher Wool, Mark Bradford, and Mark Grotjahn. 3 sessions.
LACMA’s Four Abstract Classicists and the Art of Their Time
Taking the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s exhibition Four Abstract Classicists as a point of focus, this course examines the 2 primary directions that emerged as alternatives to Abstract Expressionism in New York and California in the late 1950s: Assemblage Art on one hand and hard-edge and Post-Painterly abstraction on the other. It was in the late 50s that Jasper Johns, Red Grooms, Agnes Martin, Wallace Berman, Ed Moses, Robert Irwin, and Billy Al Bengston had their first solo shows, the 4 latter being presented at the historic Ferus Gallery, which was founded in Los Angeles in 1957. It was also at this time that Robert Rauschenberg unveiled a large group of Combines, John Chamberlain showed sculptures made of automobile parts, Louise Nevelson exhibited her first environment, and Frank Stella, Kenneth Noland, and Robert Ryman turned their attention to painting stripes, targets, and monochromes, respectively. This class examines the various manifestations of these tendencies and traces their evolution into Fluxus, Pop Art, and Minimalism by the early 1960s. 2 sessions.
Exploring Issues in Contemporary Art
This course examines developments in art during the past 3 decades. Students explore key themes in contemporary art, the debates they have inspired, and the circumstances they have aimed to address. Lectures consider the importance of appropriation, identity art, participatory aesthetics, art performance, multimedia artistic practices, and recent technological developments. The impact of globalization, the art market/economy and politics are discussed, as is the changing role of the art museum. Artists discussed include Cindy Sherman, John Baldessari, James Turrell, Urs Fischer, Ai Weiwei, Marina Abramovic, Christian Marclay, and many others. 8 sessions, plus field trips.
Art and Politics Now
From Andy Warhol’s paintings of electric chairs and race riots to Shepard Fairey’s Hope poster for Barack Obama’s election campaign, and from Joseph Beuy’s apologies for German aggression in the second World War to Ai Wei Wei’s critiques of Chinese governmental oppression, this course will explore the political power of images and artistic actions and the ability of artists and their work to effect change. Focusing on art produced since the early sixties, this class will consider the politically-charged nature of California art, which is the subject of many exhibitions opening locally this fall, as well as identity politics (feminist, racial and queer) on the national scene and artist’s responses globally to such issues as war, terrorism, poverty, immigration, inequality and more. Among the topics to be discussed are public sculpture in public space, artists collectives and collective action, graffiti and street art and art and the law.
Course Content and Policies/9/11 Exhibitions and Memorials
The Politics of Pop Art
The Rhetoric of Minimalism
Foundations of Conceptual Art
Redefining Paradigms in Europe
Art and the VietNam War: California’s Politically Engaged Art
Feminism: Your Body is a Battlefield
Black (Brown, Red, Yellow…) is Beautiful
Closeted No More: Queer Visibility
Art and Censorship
The Pictures Generation: Commodity Culture and Appropriation
Neo-Expressionist Painting and Politics: Focus on Germany
Multiple Modernities: Focus on South Africa and Latin America
Multiple Modernities: Focus on Asia and the Soviet Union
Multiple Perspectives: Focus on the Middle East
American Art and Politics: The Past Decade
Public Art and Public Space: From the City Square to the Internet
Contemporary Artistic Practice: The Ever-Expanding Studio
5 sessions, MoMA
This course will take an in-depth look at the work of American and international artists who since 1990 have taken a leading role in expanding the nature and scope of artistic practice. All defy the stereotype of the artist laboring in isolation in his or her studio and offer models of new, multidisciplinary modes of artmaking. These artists often simultaneously practice, and occasionally combine, painting, sculpture, photography, video, installation and performance art. Many of these artists produce their work through intensive collaboration with professionals in other fields, such as with engineers, musicians and film crews. Central to the course’s inquiry will be the retrospective exhibitions currently on view at MoMA devoted to Gabriel Orozco, Marina Abramovic and William Kentridge. Precedents for their work in earlier Twentieth Century art will be examined. Other contemporary artists to be considered include Bruce Nauman, Matthew Barney, Olafur Eliasson, Roni Horn, Urs Fischer and Kara Walker.
Class #1: Course Overview: Some Principles, Precedents and Practitioners
Class #2: An Introduction to “Relational Aesthetics”
Class #3: William Kentridge in Context
Class #4: Marina Abramovic in Context/A Short History of Performance and Body Art
Class #5: Further Trends in Contemporary Art Practice
Modern and Contemporary Art, 1945 to Today
8 sessions, MoMA
This course examines major artists, artworks, and movements after World War II. Through close study of works on view at MoMA, students gain a keen understanding of important art historical moments through the techniques, materials, and subject matter that define them—from the bold painterly gestures of the New York School and the cool hand of Neo-Dada and Pop, to Minimalism’s exploration of form in space and Conceptual art’s radical shift to an idea-based practice. We follow these approaches and themes as artists redefine them (post-Minimalism, Neo-Expressionism, Neo-Geo) and also look more broadly at the development of installation-based, multimedia, and post-studio practices through today.
Class #1: Abstract Expressionism
Class #2: “Neo-Dada” and Pop Art
Class #3: Post-War Developments in Europe
Class #4: Minimalism and Post-Minimalism
Class #5: Conceptual Art and Institutional Critiques
Class #6: Neo-Expressionism and Appropriation Art
Class #7: Identity Politics and Expanded Technologies
Class #8: Art Now
Exploring Issues in Contemporary Art Since 1980
8 sessions, MoMA
This course examines developments in art during the past three decades. Students explore key themes in contemporary art, the debates they have inspired, and the circumstances they have aimed to address. Lectures consider the importance of appropriation, identity art, participatory aesthetics, art performance, and multimedia artistic practices. The impact of globalization, the art market/economy and politics will be discussed, as will the changing role of the art museum. Artists discussed include Cindy Sherman, David Salle, Jeff Koons, Félix González-Torres, Gerhard Richter, Marina Abramović, Maurizio Cattelan, Tino Sehgal, Gabriel Orozco, and many others.
Class #1: Appropriation Art and “Post-Modern” Critiques
Class #2: The Art of Identity: Race and Gender Politics
Class#3: Performance and Re-Performance
Class #4: Neo-Expressionism and Contemporary Trends in Painting
Class #5: Cross-Media Practices/Redefining “Sculpture”
Class #6: Public Sculpture 1980 to Today
Class #7 Participation Art and “Relational Aesthetics”/Contemporary Video and Film
Class #8: Art, Politics and Globalism
Pop Art in Depth
Initially celebrated by the media for its accessibility and seeming superficiality, Pop art offered a profound statement on the information sources of our culture, on consumerism, and on life in the contemporary urban, industrial world. This course will examine the roots of Pop in the Neo-Dada work of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns and in the larger framework of assemblages, environments, and Happenings. The work of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Claes Oldenburg, and others will then be examined in detail, although the field will be expanded to include less familiar artists who contributed to Pop and extended its range of focus. While New York Pop will be at the center of our inquiry, related and parallel developments in Great Britain, Europe, and California will also be considered. The role of women artists, expressions of gay identity, and the art market as related to Pop will be explored in this course, which will conclude with an investigation of Pop’s legacy and its influence on recent art. MoMA’s extensive holdings in this area will be utilized.
Class #1 Course overview, Principles of High and Low, Some Precursors of Pop, Robert Rauschenberg
Class #2 Jasper Johns, Assemblage and Happenings, Nouveau Realisme
Class #3 British Pop and New York Pop
Class #4 More New York Pop, California Pop
Class #5 Pop—its legacy, influence and Postmodern incarnations
Circa 1958: New Directions in American Art
5 sessions, MoMA
This course focuses on the two primary directions that emerged as alternatives to Abstract Expressionism in the late 1950s: Assemblage Art on one hand and hard-edge and Post-Painterly abstraction on the other. It was in 1958 that Jasper Johns, Marisol, Red Grooms, Agnes Martin, Jack Youngerman and Billy Al Bengston had their first solo shows. In the same year, Robert Rauschenberg unveiled a large group of Combines, John Chamberlain showed sculptures made of automobile parts, Louise Nevelson exhibited her first environment, and Frank Stella, Kenneth Noland, and Robert Ryman turned their attention to painting stripes, targets, and monochromes, respectively. This class examines the various manifestations of these tendencies in New York and California and traces their evolution into Fluxus, Pop art, and Minimalism by the early 1960s.
Class #1 Introduction to course content, format and readings. Examination of Abstract Expressionism’s domination through the late ‘50s. The beginnings of the “rebellion.”
Class #2 The emergence, roots and varieties of Assemblage Art.
Class #3 Post-painterly and “hard-edge” painting and sculpture in New York and Los Angeles.
Class #4 The expansion of Assemblage into environmental art, Happenings and other performance-based art, including Fluxus, in New York and California, with a consideration of European parallels.
Class #5 Transitions into trends dominant in the ‘60s, most especially Minimal Art, Pop and Optical styles.
Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York University, School of Continuing and Professional Studies
Trace the evolution of 20th-century art movements–from Fauvism and Cubism to German Expressionism and Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism and beyond–using the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a classroom. Discussions include the development of American Modernism early in the century and prevalent trends emerging in 21st-Century Art. The role of the museum in exhibiting and collecting art and the impact of alternative approaches to art criticism are considered.
Class #1 Post-Impressionism and its Influence on Early European Modernism
Class #2 Fauvism, Cubism and their Offshoots
Class #3 Surrealism and Abstract Art/Figuration in Europe 1920-1950
Class #4 American Art 1900-1940/American Modernism
Class #5 Abstract Expressionism and the new American Sculpture
Class #6 “Neo-Dada,” Pop, Post-Painterly Abstraction and Minimal Art
Class #7 Contemporary Art
Class #8 Contemporary Art and Photography