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Art Theory

Code: 100538 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2500239 Art History FB 1 1
The proposed teaching and assessment methodology that appear in the guide may be subject to changes as a result of the restrictions to face-to-face class attendance imposed by the health authorities.


David Gutierrez Torres

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
spanish (spa)
Some groups entirely in English:
Some groups entirely in Catalan:
Some groups entirely in Spanish:


There are no prerequisites beyond the usual third-grade degree.

Objectives and Contextualisation

The subject is intended as an introduction, with the aim of familiarizing the student with the vocabulary and the fundamental concepts of Theory and thought in art. During the course, the main issues or problems in the environment of the artistic event that artists, theorists, philosophers or art critics have considered will be analyzed.

The general objective of the subject is that the student knows the intersection between art and thought and, specifically, the ability of art to be an ideal place for it, as well as the transitivity between theory and practice of art.

The subject is configured in a strong correlation with artistic practice.

The specific objectives of the subject are:

  1. Elaboration of an argumentary and a vocabulary to understand and explain art as an ideal place for thinking
  2. Understanding art as a category and becoming familiar with the historical processes that have led to its formation
  3. Know the main theoretical lines of art analysis today
  4. Distinguish between creativity, artisticity and art
  5. Make a mental map of the agents that plays in the artistic act
  6. Recognize the artist as a historical construction in relation to the configuration of the modern individual
  7. Learning to analyze artistic productions in relation to their context and theory
  8. The awareness of history as a story and start working with tools for storytelling


  • Applying the mastery of the basic critical and methodological tools in order to understand and narrate Art History and reflect on the profession of art historian.
  • Applying the specific scientific methodologies of the discipline of Art History.
  • Demonstrating they know the history of the artistic ideas and the main theoretical currents that inspired the reflection about art, cinema, its creators and its audience through history.
  • Developing critical thinking and reasoning and communicating them effectively both in your own and other languages.
  • Expressing specific knowledge about the origin, evolution and various fields of study of Art History, as well as the classic and actual subjects, vocabulary and debates of the discipline.
  • Recognising the fundamental problems, vocabulary and concepts of the Theory of Art and Cinema.
  • Students must be capable of applying their knowledge to their work or vocation in a professional way and they should have building arguments and problem resolution skills within their area of study.
  • Students must develop the necessary learning skills in order to undertake further training with a high degree of autonomy.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Analysing classical and current debates of the History of Art.
  2. Analysing ideas about an artistic phenomenon in a given cultural context.
  3. Analysing ideas about an artistic phenomenon, and its creators and recipients in a given cultural context.
  4. Analysing the creators of an artistic phenomenon in a specific cultural context.
  5. Analysing the recipients of an artistic phenomenon in a specific cultural context.
  6. Applying the knowledge about aesthetic ideas and Art Theory to the analysis of the artistic imagery.
  7. Critically analysing basic concepts of artistic and cinematographic theory and its evolution through history.
  8. Demonstrating the knowledge of scientific methodology, sources and Art Theory in the reading, criticism and formal, iconographic and symbolic interpretation of any artistic or cinematographic imagery.
  9. Differentiating artistic theories about an artistic phenomenon, its creators and recipients in a given cultural context.
  10. Identifying the main and secondary ideas and expressing them with linguistic correctness.
  11. Interpreting and communicating the contents of a text about theory of art and cinema.
  12. Interpreting the fundamental concepts of Theory of Art with a critical eye.
  13. Recognising the methodological, iconographic and Art Theory-related knowledge in order to read an artistic imagery.
  14. Summarising acquired knowledge about the origin and transformations experienced by the general Theory of Art and the various fields of study of the discipline.
  15. Using the knowledge of general Art Theory in the criticism of the artistic imagery.
  16. Working in teams, respecting the other's points of view and designing collaboration strategies.


The contents of the subject focus on a threefold sense: recognizing art as construction; understand their relationship with thought and history as a story.

Art and thought:
Creativity vs. art: Joseph Beuys as a case study
The formation of the art institution and the institutional theory: Larry Shinner
The uniqueness of the work of art from the study of Walter Benjamin and the aura, La Giocconda as a phenomenon, and Duchamp vs. Warhol

Art as a category:
Art is a historical construction: the change of s. XVII to XIX as preparation for modernity
The author's invention based on structuralist theories
The relationship between Enlightenment and the crisis of modernity: and the relationship between the artist and the intellectual and the bourgeois state from a Marxist perspective.
What does the artist's commitment mean ?: the Paris Commune and Courbet as a case study

The story:
History as a story and the "trades" of art (critic, curator, museums) as story builders.
Alfred Barr and the MOMA of New York as a case study.
The relationship between art and context
Practice: build an own story


Autonomous activities are basically formed by reading and working on the evaluable texts.

The directed activities consist of master classes with a high incentive to participation, as well as visits to museums and art centers recommended at the beginning of the course and in the attempt that the discursive practice accompanies an artistic praxis according to the procedures of applied aesthetics.

The supervised activities are formed by the contributions to the seminars, the contributions to the written tests, as well as the public presentation of the projects of the students


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Theoretical classes 40 1.6 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 11, 13, 14, 16, 15
Visits to museums and artistic centers 17 0.68 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 11, 13, 14, 16, 15
Type: Supervised      
Oral and written works 30 1.2 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 11, 13, 14, 16, 15
Participation in classes 29.5 1.18 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 11, 13, 14, 16, 15
Type: Autonomous      
Complementary reading 30 1.2 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 11, 13, 14, 16, 15


The evaluation is based in the contribution of the student in the dynamics of discussion of the subject and his contributions. It also proposes two evaluable exercises: the public presentation of a research paper; and a final written test.

The student's grade will be "not evaluable" when it has not been submitted to the totality of the tests either on the day indicated on the calendar or on the day of the re-evaluation. Even so, in order to have a re-evaluation option, he must have submitted a minimum of one of the two mandatory jobs and in no case must the grade be less than 3.5

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Exam / Final work of the given subject 40 3.5 0.14 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 11, 13, 14, 15
Involvement in directed discussions in the field of the contents of the subject 20 0 0 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 12, 11, 13, 14, 16, 15
Public presentation of a research paper 40 0 0 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 12, 11, 13, 14, 16, 15


BENJAMIN, W, La obra de arte en la época de su reproductibilidad técnica, Mexico DF, Ítaca, 2003
BENJAMIN, W, El autor como productor, Mexico DF, Ítaca, 2004
BOURRIAUD, N., Estética relacional. Buenos Aires, Adriana Hidalgo, 2007
BURGER, P., Teoría de la vanguardia, Buenos Aires, Editorial Las cuarenta, 2010
CABANNE, P., Conversaciones con Marcel Duchamp, Madrid, Editorial This side up, 2013
DANTO, A., Las transfiguraciones del lugar común. Barcelona, Paidós, 2002
DUCHAMP, M., El proceso creativo, https://revistas.unc.edu.ar/index.php/NOMBRES/article/view/2101
FOUCAULT, M., "¿Qué es un autor?". Barcelona, Paidós, 1969
GONZÁLEZ PANIZO, J., Hacia el arte post-contemporáneo o la enésima muerte del arte: sobre Armen Avanessian, Blogearte http://blogeartemadrid.blogspot.com.es/2017/07/hacia-el-arte-post-contemporaneo-o-la.html?m=0
GROYS, B., La topología del arte contemporáneo, [esferapublica] http://esferapublica.org/nfblog/la-topologia-del-arte-contemporaneo/
GUASCH, A.M., El papel de las instituciones artísticas en la actualidad, https://ifc.dpz.es/recursos/publicaciones/29/23/08guasch.pdf
HOFMANNSTHAL, H.V., Una carta de Lord Philipp Chandos a Sir Francis Bacon, https://www.raco.cat/index.php/Marges/article/viewFile/105489/165499
RAMIREZ, J.A.. Ecosistema y explosión de las artes, Barcelona, Anagrama, 1994.
RANCIÈRE, J. El espectador emancipado. Castellón, Ellago ediciones, 2010.
SHINER, L., La invención del arte, Barcelona, Paidós Estética 36, 2004.