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Selected Artists of the 20th and 21st Centuries (1960-present)

Course Times & Enrolment

Thursdays from 28th September 2023 (Code AA229-101) Thursdays from
28th September 2023 11:10am - 1:00pm • (10 classes)
LG46 Paterson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Andrew Paterson MSc BFA PhD
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

An in-depth examination of art from 1960-the present day, focusing on the aims and methods of specific individuals. We focus on one or two artists each week, highlighting the originality of their creative processes, and identifying the significance of their contributions to modern art. See also Selected Artists of the 20th century (1900-1970).

Please note, this course includes a field trip (a visit to a local gallery).

Course Details

Content of Course

Each session will focus either on a single artist or a pair of related artists. The choice of artists will vary from year to year depending on exhibitions, major anniversaries etc., and at least one gallery visit will be included. The following areas will be covered:

1. Conceptual art.

2. Performance art.

3. New materials, techniques and processes in sculpture.

4. Installation art.

5. Different uses of the photographic image.

6. Artists’ film and video.

7. Post-modernist painting, and the continuing practice of Modernist painting..

Teaching method(s)

Slide lectures allowing plenty of time for critical discussion. Guided gallery visit, continuing critical discussion.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students should be able to:

  • Communicate a historical overview of the important developments in 20th- and 21st-century art;

  • Assess critically the motivations and creative processes underlying works by key individuals;

  • ‘Read’, analyse and interpret works of art.


Core Readings


  • Harrison, C. and Wood, P., eds., 2002. Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas. London: Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Fineberg, J., 1995. Art Since 1940: Strategies of Being. London: Laurence King Publishing.

  • Stallabrass, J., 2004. Art Incorporated: The Story of Contemporary Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Sylvester, D., 2002. About Modern Art: Critical Essays 1948-2000. London: Pimlico.

  • Thornton, S., 2015. 33 Artists in 3 Acts. London: Granta Books.

  • Ward, O., 2014. Ways of Looking: How to Experience Contemporary Art. London: Elephant Books.

There are also valuable collections of artists’ own writings, for example:

  • Gormley, Antony, 2015. Antony Gormley on Sculpture. London: Thames and Hudson.

  • Richter, Gerhard, 1995. The Daily Practice of Painting: Writings and Interviews, 1962-93. London: Thames and Hudson.

Class Handouts

Course schedule, list of recommended further reading. weekly lecture notes, including quotations from artists and critics referred to during the course.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.