Contemporary Art and the Global

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview

In the wake of worldwide phenomena such as decolonization, neoliberalism, and processes of globalization, the turn towards the “global” in art history has seemingly necessitated new approaches to both the presentation and study of art around the world. Contemporary art has been considered a condition of “the global,” as the map of today’s art world now includes sites and, indeed artists, previously considered peripheral to the concerns of a Euro-American centered art discourse. An abundance of globetrotting curators and artists, as well as copious blockbuster thematic exhibitions are today an intrinsic part of the 'globalised' art world. However, to what extent does this ‘global turn’ signify an actual shift away from rather than a consolidation of the West’s hegemonic hold on contemporary art discourse? Does today’s globalized art world exemplify a broadening of scholarship and curatorship, or a new form of institutional and corporate power in the guise of individual artistic freedom? Utilising exhibition case studies, art criticism and, other forms of exhibition-related materials, the course will explore the veritable impact of contemporary art and the global on artistic practice, academia, curating, and writing. Attention will be given to the postwar era, and the specter of colonialism and communism, transnational and diasporic subjectivities, the role of expanding markets, overlooked practices and the assertion of the self and the collective. Students will be encouraged to critically question the binaries and constructs of local/global, centre/periphery, modern/primitive, East/West, and North/South.


  • This Module is capped at 25 places
  • Students enrol via the online Module Sign-Up system. Students are advised of the timing of this process via email by the Faculty Office.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • To demonstrate broad knowledge of important movements and artists considered key to the development of contemporary art in its global breadth
  • To demonstrate an understanding of key concepts and how they apply literacy related to the terminology and methods of contemporary art history
  • To articulate the relationship between contemporary art, globalization, and the notion of “the global”
  • To apply critical understanding of key concepts and how they apply methodological analysis to contemporary art in a comparative and transnational scope
  • To demonstrate knowledge and skills applicable to art historical scholarship, curatorship, and other industry fields


  • One hour Lecture, one hour Seminar

Method of assessment

  • One 1 000 words literature review (worth 30%)
  • One 2 000 words curatorial text (worth 70%)

Suggested reading

  • Araeen, Rasheed, Cubitt Sean, and Sardar Ziauddin (eds). The Third Text Reader: On Art, Culture, and Theory (London: Continuum, 2002)
  • Altshuler, Bruce and Phaidon (eds.) Biennials and Beyond – Exhibitions That Made Art History 1962–2002 , (London: Phaidon Press, 2013)
  • Documenta und Museum Fridericianum Veranstaltungs-GmbHs] Documenta 11–Platform 5: Exhibition (Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, c2002)
  • Dumbadze, Alexander Blair, and Suzanne Perling Hudson. Contemporary Art: 1989 to the Present. (Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013)
  • Hanru, Hou, et al. How Latitudes Become Forms: Art In a Global Age (Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2003)
  • Karp, Ivan; Kratz, Corrinne A; Szwaja, Lynn; Ybarra-Frausto, Tomás (eds.) Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007)
  • Mercer, Kobena (ed). Annotating Art’s Histories series (Cosmopolitian Modernisms; Discrepant Abstraction; Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures; Exiles, Diasporas and Strangers (London and Cambridge, Mass: inIVA and MIT Press 2005-2008)
  • Hassan, Salah and Dadi, Iftikhar (eds.) Unpacking Europe: Towards a Critical Reading (Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2001)
  • Mathur, Saloni, ed. The Migrant's Time: Rethinking Art History and Diaspora (Williamstown, Mass.: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2011)
  • Poupeye, Veerle. Caribbean Art (London: Caribbean Art, 1998)



Dr Richard Hylton


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules