AR-469 / 3 credits

Teacher: Gerke Stefanie

Language: English


This course is devoted to understanding the evolution of art & its most relevant phenomena since the 1950’s. Using the recurring international art show Documenta as a framework, it will critically examine and contextualize relevant artworks, topics & media that have shaped the world.



  • Documenta
  • contemporary art
  • contemporary culture
  • 20th and 21st century
  • academic research and writing

Learning Prerequisites

Important concepts to start the course

You should be familiar with the key concepts of academic research and writing. What is a quote? How do I research historic facts? Which sources are trustworthy?

Otherwise, no previous knowledge is needed.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the student must be able to:

  • Describe artworks
  • Contextualise artistic currents of the 20th century
  • Critique artistic concepts
  • Theorize their own observations and research on contemporary artworks
  • Analyze artworks

Transversal skills

  • Use a work methodology appropriate to the task.
  • Communicate effectively, being understood, including across different languages and cultures.
  • Respect relevant legal guidelines and ethical codes for the profession.
  • Demonstrate the capacity for critical thinking
  • Access and evaluate appropriate sources of information.
  • Summarize an article or a technical report.

Teaching methods

Ex cathedra lectures alternating with online lectures.

The lectures will be interactive but do not require any preparatory reading.

Expected student activities

Attending the lectures and participating in the live discussions at the end of each lecture.

Writing an essay based on thorough academic research (see "assessment methods").

Assessment methods

The assessment consists of a written essay of ca. 3000 words, to be handed in by January 10, 2022 via email.

It can either expand on a topic discussed in class or use the methodology learned in class to analyze any artwork of the discussed time period that is connected to the topics discussed in the lecture. Topics will be arranged with the lecturer well in advance (in an abstract via email). To prepare for the written essay, we will discuss the importance of appropriate scientific research, writing and citation as well as transparency with regards to intellectual property. The essay must include proper citation with footnotes and bibliography as well as figures with proper captions.

The assessment criteria for the essay are:

1. Originality, Phrasing, Focus of the Problem (10%)

2. Compelling argument, analytical understanding of the overall topic (10%)

3. Reasonable structure of the essay (10%)

4. Examination of the specific research object (25%)

5. Analysis of the literature: research, overall state of research, evaluation, critical discussion (15%)

6. Vocabulary: adequate terminology, precise wording (10%)

7. Language: correct spelling, grammar, punctuation (10%)

8. Formal apparatus: consistency of citation method, bibliography and image index (10%)


In the programs

  • Semester: Fall
  • Exam form: During the semester (winter session)
  • Subject examined: Art since the 1950s: trends & topics at Documenta
  • Lecture: 2 Hour(s) per week x 12 weeks
  • Semester: Fall
  • Exam form: During the semester (winter session)
  • Subject examined: Art since the 1950s: trends & topics at Documenta
  • Lecture: 2 Hour(s) per week x 12 weeks

Reference week

15-16   CE5 

Thursday, 15h - 17h: Lecture CE5