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Contemporary Visual Art and Culture

Code: 100549 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2500239 Art History OB 3 2
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.


Jaime Vidal Oliveras

Use of Languages

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

Other comments on languages

Catalan or Spanish according to the needs of the group


No prerequisites are required

Objectives and Contextualisation

Historical overview of the relationships between, on the one hand, avant-garde art and high culture and, on the other, mass culture.


  • Critically analysing from the acquired knowledge a work of art in its many facets: formal values, iconographic significance, artistic techniques and procedures, elaboration process and reception mechanisms.
  • Developing critical thinking and reasoning and communicating them effectively both in your own and other languages.
  • Interpreting a work of art in the context in which it was developed and relating it with other forms of cultural expression.
  • Producing innovative and competitive proposals in research and professional activity.
  • Recognising the evolution of the artistic imagery from the antiquity to the contemporary visual culture.
  • 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.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Accurately defining and explaining an artistic object with the specific language of art criticism.
  2. Analysing ideas about an artistic phenomenon in a given cultural context.
  3. Analysing the creators of an artistic phenomenon in a specific cultural context.
  4. Analysing the recipients of an artistic phenomenon in a specific cultural context.
  5. Applying the iconographic knowledge to the reading of artistic imagery.
  6. Connecting an artistic imagery with other cultural phenomena within its period.
  7. Distinguishing the elaboration techniques and processes of an artistic object.
  8. Efficiently presenting knowledge in oral and written form.
  9. Encouraging creativity and fomenting innovative ideas.
  10. Examining an artistic imagery and distinguishing its formal, iconographic and symbolic values.
  11. Explaining the reception mechanisms of a work of art.
  12. Identifying the artistic imagery, placing it into its cultural context.
  13. Identifying the main and secondary ideas and expressing them with linguistic correctness.
  14. Reconstructing the artistic outlook of a particular cultural context.
  15. Working in teams, respecting the other's points of view and designing collaboration strategies.


1. TOWARDS A DEFINITION OF MASS CULTURE: Society and mass culture. Traditional culture versus industrial culture. High & Low Culture: the debate of the vanguard in the theorists of the Frankfurt School. Clement Greenberg: avant-garde and kitsch.

2. ART AND TECHNICAL REPRODUCTIBILITY: Walter Benjamin: the original and the loss of the aura. Poster design: Chéret, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cassandre. Soviet propaganda and American advertising. Baudelaire: the modern public. The photograph. Photography: impressionism and photographic image. From pictorialism to the specificity of the medium. The cartoon and the illustration. The illustrated magazine: Life.

3. ART AND INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION: Notion of design. Industrial design: from the crime of ornament to the criticism of functionalism. Four models: Modernism, Art Deco, Bauhaus and Streamline. Graphic design: futurism, dadaism and constructivism. The neoplasticist utopia. Limits and possibilities of avant-garde movements

4. AVANT GARDENS AND MASS MEDIA: Cubism and collage, photomontage and cinematographic montage. Vanguards and cinema. The surrealist object: from the objet trouvé to the ready-made. Learning from pop: Warhol and consumer products, Lichtenstein and comics, Rosenquist and advertising.


- Theoretical classes with visual support.
- Analysis of texts and films.
- Debates on the readings.
- Tutorials.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
DEBATES 13.5 0.54 3, 4, 2, 12, 5, 1, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 6, 8, 15
THEORICAL CLASSES 77.75 3.11 3, 4, 2, 12, 1, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 6
Type: Supervised      
TUTORIES 7.5 0.3 3, 4, 2, 12, 5, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 6
Type: Autonomous      
INDIVIDUAL WRITTEN WORKS 9.25 0.37 3, 4, 2, 12, 5, 1, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 6, 8


1 exam of the contents of the agenda. (50%)

1 work on an aspect of mass culture related to contemporary art, under the supervision of the teacher of the student's choice. (35 %)
Analysis of documents and/or films proposed by the teacher (15%)

The passing of the exam and and the realisation of all exercises will be necessary to pass the subject. No deliveries will be accepted outside the agreed deadlines. The minimum grade to average is 4 in each test, as long as the final grade is 5.

REVIEW: at the moment of realisation of each activity evaluative, the teacher will inform the students of the procedure and date of review of the qualifications
RECOVERY: those students who do not pass any of the tests with a grade lower than 4 or do notdeliver in due time will only have to recover the part not approved or not presented
PLAGIARISM AND IRREGULARITIES:in the event of a student committing any irregularity that may lead to a significant variation in the grade awarded to an assessment activity, thestudent will be given a zero for this activity, regardless of any disciplinary process that may take place. In the event of several irregularities in assessment activities of the same subject, the student will be given a zero as the final grade for this subject.
VIRTUAL TEACHING: In the event that the tests and the course cannot be taken onsite, they will be adapted to an online format made available through the UAB’s virtual tools (original weighting will be maintained). Homework, activities and class participation will be carried out through forums, wikis and/or discussion on Teams, etc. Lecturers will ensure that students are able to access these virtual tools, or will offer them feasible alternatives.

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Individual written work 35% 25 1 3, 4, 2, 12, 5, 1, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 6, 8, 15
Individual written work: document and/or film analysis 15 % 15 0.6 3, 4, 2, 12, 5, 1, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 6, 8
Theoretical exam 50% 2 0.08 3, 4, 2, 12, 5, 1, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 6, 8


  • AA.VV., Art & Pub. Art et Publicité 1890-1990, Centre Georges Pompidou, París 1991
  • BARTHES, Roland, La cámara lúcida. Notas sobre la fotografía, Paidós, Barcelona, 1995
  • BAUDRILLARD, Jean, Cultura y simulacro, Kayrós, Barcelona, 1978
  • BENJAMIN, Walter. L’obra d’art a l’època de la seva reproductibilitat tècnica, Ed. 62, Barcelona, 1983 (Also there is translation at the Spanish)
  • BÜRGER, Peter, Teoría de la vanguardia, Península, Barcelona, 1987
  • DORFLES, Gillo, El Kitsch. Antología del mal gusto, Lumen, Barcelona, 1973
  • ECO, Umberto, Apocalípticos e integrados ante la cultura de masas, Lumen, Barcelona, 1968
  • GREENBERG, Clement, La pintura moderna y otros ensayos (edición de Fèlix Fanés), Siruela, Madrid, 1994
  • GUBERN, Roman, La mirada opulenta. Exploración de la iconosfera contemporánea, Gustavo Gili, Barcelona, 1987
  • RAMÍREZ, Juan Antonio, Medios de masas e Historia del arte, Cátedra, Madrid,1976
  • SONTAG, Susan, Sobre la fotografía, Edhasa, Barcelona, 1996
  • VARNEDE, Kirk / GOPNIK, Adam, High & Low. Modern Art and Popular Culture, MOMA, Nueva York, 1990