Shock of the Modern


This course explores the key works, ideas, principles and practices as well as the main artists who founded and shaped modern art in the Euro-American world from 1850 to the early 1960s. It considers the factors that contributed to the emergence of Modernism in the context of rapid and revolutionary social, technological and political change in the later Nineteenth and early to mid Twentieth Centuries. Although the primary focus is on the medium of painting, there are also classes on photography and sculpture. Major and influential artists studied in the course include Manet, Degas, Monet, Cezanne, Seurat, Rodin, Gauguin, van Gogh, Munch, Mondrian, Kandinsky, Duchamp, Magritte, Ernst, Jackson Pollock and Warhol.

This course provides the necessary foundation for students intending  to advance to Stage II and Stage III courses in modern and contemporary art, in particular ARTHIST 202/302 (Crisis and Change: Mid 19th Century Art in France and Britain), ARTHIST 231/331 (Framing the Viewer: 20th Century Art), ARTHIST 222/322 (Origins of Modern Sculpture), ARTHIST 204/334 (Contemporary Art and Theory) and ARTHIST 235/335 (Contemporary New Zealand Art).

Availability 2024

Not taught in 2024



Recommended Reading

R. Brettell  Modern Art 1851-1929: Capitalism and Representation (1999)

T. Eisenman   Nineteenth Century Art Thames and Hudson (any edition)

H. Foster et al, Art since 1900 Thames and Hudson (any edition)

R. Hughes The Shock of the New Thames and Hudson (any edition)

R Rosenblum and H Janson 19th Century Art  Abrams (any edition)


Coursework + exam


ARTHIST 109: 15 points


ARTHIST 104, 105, 141