Architecture and Art: From Robert Smithson to the emerging `New Synthesis¿

Since the first announcements of the \’demise\’ of painting in the post-Abstract Expressionist era, art has consistently sought to radicalize its practice by upending the traditional metaphysics of expression and meaning through a vigorous engagement with the context of its presentation. Deriving in many ways from the early example of Marcel Duchamp for whom art was a product of overlapping circuits of social production, art began to address the physical, architectural and urban conditions of its display. Beginning with Minimalist and Performance Art and on to a long series of hybrid practices in what has been called the \’expanded field\’, art has often ventured so close to \’spatial\’ practice as to have all but merged with practices for long taking place at the speculative periphery of architecture and design. As a fully internationalized art world today begins to raise itself from the desert of miscellaneous and largely entertainment-based practice of the preceding two decades, a predominant tendency has clearly emerged: a profound interest in, and engagement with the conditions of the built environment and its role in shaping human subjectivity. Art practices that will be studied include those of Robert Smithson, Tony Smith, Vito Acconci, Richard Serra, Keith Sonnier, Gordon Matta-Clark, various representatives of both the American and German photographic school, Thomas Demand, Olafur Eliasson, etc. alongside developments of Post-war architecture practice and its various movements from Archigram to Metabolism to the emerging \’physiologist\’ practices in Europe. This course will also maintain a strong openness to issues in current art and architectural theory.