Art 100: Art Appreciation


Professor Michelli
Location and Times: Molinaro 105, Monday, Wednesday
3.30-4.45 pm
Office: CART 277
(262) 595 2113
Final Exam:
  • Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 3.30-5.30 pm

Required set book:
Edmund Burke Feldman, Varieties of Visual Experience, Prentice Hall and Abrams, Upper Saddle River, NJ, and New York, 4th ed, 1992


If you're taking this course, the chances are good that you are among that huge majority of the population who cannot see the point or value of modern art, and don't intend to be taken for a fool. If you didn't have this reservation about art, you'd probably have opted to do one of the Foundations in Art History courses instead, schedules permitting. But this course ought to give you some good reasons for why modern art is the way it is, and maybe help you to come to terms with it. Otherwise, it will probably confirm your worst suspicions and then you'll really be able to let rip the next time you're talking art with some trendy poseur.

Actually, I hope this course will do both: that by firing your understanding and imagination, it will encourage you to really let rip at that poseur. There is no doubt that modern art is a great deal harder to accept than traditional art - and that is directly the fault of the artists. And then again, it is not their fault. They are as trapped in today with all its troublesome issues as you are, and it is their job to give expression to those issues, to make them conscious for the rest of us, and to suggest a way forward. We need to deal with those issues because they are about maintaining and developing our own humanity. Backsliding is not an option. We are NOT going back to the trees (or the swamp)! Staying put is not an option. We are NOT machines. We live, we grow, we become. Are we going to let that happen at random, or at the mercy of politico-business interests? Or are we going to take part in creating our own human destiny?

Now, in order to shape our destiny, we need to know what we are already, and what processes got us here. That is where art appreciation comes in. The processes that got us here are largely (but not necessarily) unconscious, and that is why art highlights them so well. Patrons and artists can control what they make, and what subjects they promote. This tells us a lot about where and who we believe we are. But they can only partially control their style, which therefore tells us something about our subconscious knowledge and intentions (what is developing in us). And they think they can't control their inspiration at all - which means they make visible the things they (and we) think are unknowable (the future?).

How do they do this? Well, in the west we have already undergone two monumental revolutions in the way we think, and these leave typical traces in every field. After learning straight survival, we developed our intellect long and hard for thousands of years: the first major change. We hadn't finished with that when we began to work in earnest on our emotions and physical senses: the second major change. We really haven't finished with those, but now we have been catapulted prematurely into a third monumental change: today, the real developments are in the area of intuition - a faculty we know very little about as yet. It's going to take hundreds of years to work that one out, and we're right at the beginning! What's more, many of us are still working on the older issues of survival, intellect, emotion and sensation. If all this is left unconscious - as it usually is - you can see that the potential for muddle is high. But it doesn't have to be unconscious.

It doesn't have to be left unconscious because of those traces left in everything we do. For this course, we are specifically interested in art and architecture, and here the traces are visible as style and as attitudes to beauty (whether we promote it or abhor it, and how we identify it). Your set book: Varieties of Visual Experience, by Edmund Burke Feldman makes a lot of the traces clear - but it does not link those traces to the thought systems that produced them. So we will go into dialogue with Mr. Burke Feldman - and to achieve that, you need to visit the Paradigmatic History of Art pages of my site. This is going to be really great! A multilogue between Mr. Burke Feldman, Professor Michelli, and eighty-plus students! You'd better be willing to talk!

Obviously, you cannot talk in every class but prepare for it anyway because I will give half the class priority on alternate days and then throw the discussion open to the other half for extra grade-point opportunities. As soon as it can be organized, I will provide you with name tags. Every time you successfully answer or ask a question, you will pass me a name tag and I will count it to your name after class..

Course Grading

There are TWO QUIZZES and one FINAL EXAM. All are cumulative: that is, you will be tested on the material covered up to that point in the course. The lowest score will be discounted, the two remaining quizzes will be worth 37 points each towards your final grade. PARTICIPATION TAGS are worth 1 point per use for an ideal total of 26, with a cumulative total of 100 points for the combined activities.

Art Department Classroom Conduct Policy:

The Art Department also expects conduct appropriate for a university classroom. We have no tolerance for disrespectful behavior, which includes but is not limited to: private conversations with your classmates during a lecture or demonstration, rude comments and/or physical threats directed towards the instructor or your peers, and sleeping in class. Similarly, cell phones and pagers must be silenced before class starts, for they are disturbing to the instructor, your fellow students, and to the overall rhythm of the class. Cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated and will be punished to the fullest extent of university policy and the law. Each instructor also reserves the right to determine his or her own specific classroom conduct policies.

Your actions will result in a significant lowering of your final grade. The instructor reserves the right to pull you aside and talk to you individually, to have you removed from class, and to report you to the Dean of Students' office.

Art Dept. Attendance Policy:

Regular attendance in class is mandatory. Once a student obtains 3 unexcused absences, that student's final grade will be lowered one full-letter grade. If a student misses a critique or major demonstration, that absence will be counted double. Missing over nine classes without a legitimate excuse will result in course failure. (This policy is consistent with the attendance policy held by the entire art dept.)


The Art Department reserves the right to use reproductions of student work for promotional purposes, including the departmental website.

Conceal Carry:

"Weapons are prohibited in UW-Parkside buildings and all outdoor events. Anyone found in violation will be subject to immediate removal in addition to academic and/or legal sanctions".

Gen. Ed:

This class is also a general education course in the ARTS AND HUMANITIES that addresses the following prescribed competencies: Critical Thinking, Communication through Creative Expression, and Social and Personal Responsibility.