1. Handbook
  2. Subjects
  3. Trauma & Spectacle: Postwar European Art

Trauma & Spectacle: Postwar European Art (AHIS40005)

HonoursPoints: 12.5Not available in 2019

You’re viewing the 2019 Handbook:
Or view archived Handbooks


Year of offerNot available in 2019
Subject levelHonours
Subject codeAHIS40005
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject examines selected artists and art movements in Europe from the occupation of France in 1940 to the late 1960s. Opposing the idea that New York stole the idea of modern art after WWII, in this subject the post-war decades in Europe are viewed as a period of extraordinary artistic and cultural ferment. It introduces students to the way in which artists reacted to the catastrophe of WWII and deals with several issues relevant to the analysis of art during this period, including the legacy of the historic avant-gardes, the aftermath of fascism, the demand to make socially relevant art, the rising cultural and economic influence of the USA, and the effect of the Cold War. It explores art practices in several countries, including France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom, focusing on the work of artists such as Pablo Picasso, Lucio Fontana, Willi Baumeister, and Eduardo Paolozzi. A broad range of genres and techniques of painting and sculpture will be examined, including surrealism, concrete art, matter painting, informal painting, neo-dada, and installation art. On completion of the subject students should have an understanding of selected artists and movements in Europe between 1940 and 1970 and be able to apply a range of art historical approaches to the study of art in relationship to its social and political context.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • have an understanding of the major art practices and theories in Europe from 1940 to 1965;
  • be able to recognise the work of specific artists and artistic movements of the period and explain them in relation to their social and political context; and
  • have developed an appreciation for a range of art historical approaches to studying the relationship between art, society and politics in European post-war art.

Generic skills

At the completion of this subject, students hsould gain the following generic skills:

  • be able to conduct independent research using catalogued sources and bibliographical indexes;
  • have developed their ability to think creatively and express their ideas clearly in written communication; and
  • have developed their skills in verbal communication and oral presentation.

Last updated: 24 July 2019