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Art Theory

Code: 100538 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2500239 Art History FB 1 1


Sandra Alvaro Sanchez

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
catalan (cat)
Some groups entirely in English:
Some groups entirely in Catalan:
Some groups entirely in Spanish:

Other comments on languages

Despite the teaching language of this course being Catalan, some bibliographic materials are in Spanish and English. It will be allowed to non-Catalan speakers to realize their assessments in Spanish.


There are no prerequisites. However, English proficiency is welcomed

Objectives and Contextualisation



This subject is an introduction to the fundamental vocabulary and concepts of art theory and its evolution until the present day. Furthermore, it will outline the relationship between art practice and theory through the analysis of fundamental artworks and theoretical texts.

The main objective is to teach the students the definition of art as a complex event and its evolution conjointly with contemporary socio-technical and socio-political advancements.

Specific objectives:

  • Elaboration of a vocabulary and arguments to allow the student to analyse artistic productions
  • Introduce the evolution of aesthetic categories
  • Knowing the leading authors of art theory and their works
  • Knowing the main current theoretical frameworks and their sources
  • Understanding the art systems and their historical evolution
  • Learning how to apply theoretical concepts to the analysis of artworks
  • Apply critical and methodological instruments for the analysis and story-telling of art-productions



  • 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.
  • 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. Interpreting and communicating the contents of a text about theory of art and cinema.
  11. Interpreting the fundamental concepts of Theory of Art with a critical eye.
  12. Recognising the methodological, iconographic and Art Theory-related knowledge in order to read an artistic imagery.
  13. Summarising acquired knowledge about the origin and transformations experienced by the general Theory of Art and the various fields of study of the discipline.
  14. Using the knowledge of general Art Theory in the criticism of the artistic imagery.
  15. Working in teams, respecting the other's points of view and designing collaboration strategies.


The contents of the subject develop a theoretical context from which to analyze the changes in themes, function and media started in the Avant-garde and characterizing the plurality of contemporary art. With this aim, they introduce the inception of aesthetic theory and its evolution along the time and situated in its historical context. Contents are structured in three blocks to facilitate the combination of theory and practice, accordingly to the methodology.



  • Art after the Avant-garde: Globalism, pluralism, new media and material turn

Art Theory:

  • From Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century: the origins of aesthetic theory
  • Theories of Modernity: Formalism/critical theory, Modern art / Avant-garde

Reading Postmodernity

  • Art and mass-society: language and power
  • Art and New Media: the Postmedia condition
  • Reviewing heteropatriarchal schemes in art history: feminism and postcolonialism


This subject combines theoretical with practice-based sessions. After each lecture will follow a participatory workshop in which the students will apply the learned concepts and methods to the analysis of contemporary artworks.

  • Autonomous activities consist of the comprehensive reading and study of the bibliographical materials.
  • The directed activities consist of master classes with a high incentive for participation, as well as visits to museums and art centres recommended at the beginning of the course
  • 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



Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Theoretical classes 30 1.2 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 10, 12, 13, 15, 14
Visits to museums and artistic centers 10 0.4 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 10, 12, 13, 15, 14
Type: Supervised      
Oral and written works 40 1.6 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 10, 12, 13, 15, 14
Participation in classes 30 1.2 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 10, 12, 13, 15, 14
Type: Autonomous      
Complementary reading 40 1.6 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 10, 12, 13, 15, 14


  • The evaluation will be based on the participation and rich contributions of the students to the activities proposed in the workshops. (20% of total assessment)

In addition, it will be necessary the realization of two assessments:

  • A research project presented in the classroom (40%)
  • An individual assessment (40%)

On carrying out each evaluation activity, lecturers will inform students (on Moodle) of the procedures to be followed for reviewing all grades awarded, and the date on which such a review will take place.

To participate in recovery, students must have previously been evaluated in a set of activities whose weight equals a minimum of 2/3 of the total grade. The activity of viewing and commentary of films will not be recoverable.

Students will obtain a Not assessed/Not submitted course grade unless they have submitted more than 30% of the assessment items.

In the event of a student committing any irregularity that may lead to a significant variation in the grade awarded to an assessment activity, the student 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.

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Involvement in directed discussions in the field of the contents of the subject 20 0 0 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 9, 11, 10, 12, 13, 15, 14
Research project 40 0 0 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 9, 11, 10, 12, 13, 15, 14
individual assessment 40 0 0 7, 4, 1, 5, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 10, 12, 13, 14


  •  Adorno, Theodor W. et al. Teoría estética / Th.W. Adorno ; edición de Rolf Tiedemann con la colaboración de Gretel Adorno, Susan Buck-Morss y Klauss Schultz ; traducción: Jorge Navarro Pérez. Tres Cantos (Madrid): Akal, 2004.
  •  Adorno, Theodor W. et al. Dialéctica de la ilustración : fragmentos filosóficos / Max Horkheimer y Theodor W. Adorno ; edición de Rolf Tiedemann ; con la colaboración de Gretel Adorno, Susan Buck-Morss y Klaus Schultz ; traducción de Joaquín Chamorro Mielke. Madrid: Akal, 2007.  
  • Benjamin, Andrew E. Walter Benjamin and Art Edited by Andrew Benjamin. Ed. Andrew E. Benjamin. London: Continuum, 2005.
  •  Benjamin, Walter, and Jesús Aguirre. Iluminaciones / Walter Benjamin. Madrid: Taurus, 1971.
  •  Benjamin, Walter., and Andrés E. Weikert. La obra de arte en la época de su reproductibilidad técnica. Ciudad de México: Editorial ITACA, 2003.
  • Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Bertolt Brecht, and Georg Lukács, Afterword by Fredric Jameson Aesthetics and Politics, 2007,  Verso ISBN-10: 184467570X
  • Bürger, Peter. Teoría de la vanguardia / Peter Bürger; traducción de Jorge García ; prólogo de Helio Piñón. Barcelona: Península, 1987.
  • Burgin, Victor. The End of Art Theory : Criticism and Postmodernity / Victor Burgin. Houndmills [etc: Macmillan, 1986.
  • Foster, Hal. The Anti-Aesthetic : Essays on Postmodern Culture / Ed. by Hal Foster. Washington: Bay Press, 1983.
  • Foster, Hal., and Alfredo Brotons Muñoz. El Retorno de lo real : la vanguardia a finales de siglo / Hal Foster ; traducción Alfredo Brotons Muñoz. Madrid: Akal, 2001.
  •  Gaiger, Jason, and Paul Wood. Art of the Twentieth Century : a Reader / Edited by Jason Gaiger and Paul Wood. New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 2003. Print.
  • Greenberg, Clement. Arte y Cultura : ensayos críticos. Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 1979. Print.
  • Grzinić, Marina, and Sefik Tatlić. Necropolitics, Racialization, and Global Capitalism : Historicization of Biopolitics and Forensics in Politics, Art, and Life / Marina Grzinić and Sefik Tatlić. Lanham, Maryland ;: Lexington Books, 2014.
  • Harman, Graham. Arte y Objetos/ Enclave de Libros Ediciones, 2021. ISBN: 9788412218213
  • Huyssen, Andreas. Modernismo después de la Posmodernidad. Madrid: Gedisa, 2011 ISBN: 849784286384
  • Kant, Immanuel. Critica del juicio. Madrid: Espasa Calpe. 1981
  • Krauss, Rosalind E., and Adolfo. Gómez Cedillo. La Originalidad de la vanguardia y otros mitos modernos / Rosalind E. Krauss ; versión española de Adolfo Gómez Cedillo. Madrid: Alianza, 1996.
  • Krauss, Rosalind E., and  Marcel. Broodthaers. A Voyage on the North Sea : Art in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition / Rosalind Krauss. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2000. Print.
  • Leonardo, and Leon Battista Alberti. El Tratado de la pintura / Leonardo de Vinci. i Los Tres libros que sobre el mismo arte escribió León Bautista Alberti. Barcelona: Alta Fulla, 1999. Print.
  • Lippard, Lucy R. Seis años : la desmaterialización del objeto artístico de 1966 a 1972 / Lucy R. Lippard. Madrid: Akal, 2004.
  • Lyotard, Jean François (2004) La Condición Postmoderna: informe sobre el saber, centre de estudis de temes contemporanis: Angles
  • Mignolo, Walter. Historias locales, diseños globales : colonialidad, conocimientos subalternos y pensamiento fronterizo / Walter D. Mignolo. Madrid: Akal, 2003. Print.
  • Owens, Craig, Scott Bryson, and Scott Stewart. Bryson. Beyond Recognition : Representation, Power, and Culture / Craig Owens ; Edited by Scott Bryson ... [et Al.]. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. Print. 
  • Robinson, Hilary, Maria Elena Buszek, and Dana Arnold. A Companion to Feminist Art. Newark: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2019.
  • Smith, Paul and WILDE, Carolyn (Eds)(2002) A Companion to Art Theory, Blackwell
  • Wood, Paul., Isabel. Balsinde, and Isabel Balsinde. La Modernidad a debate : el arte a partir de los años cuarenta / Paul Wood ... [et al.] ; traducción: Isabel Balsinde. Madrid: Akal, 1999. La Modernidad a debate : el arte a partir de los años cuarenta / Paul Wood ... [et al.] ; traducción: Isabel Balsinde. Madrid: Akal, 1999.


Not applicable.