Course Title:  01:082:240  Introduction to Modern and Contemporary African Art

Academic Credits:  3 credits

Mode of Instruction:  Lecture

Course Prerequisites and Corequisites:  None

Core Curriculum:  AHp

Course Description:

This course will survey the world of modern and contemporary African art across the continent.  Lectures and discussions will navigate the creation of huge sculptures in wood and garbage, the painting of elegant canvases in Senegal, the interwoven history of art and the fight against Apartheid in South Africa and the sophisticated photography now being created across the continent.  The course will probe the destructive politics behind much of contemporary African Art, and it will include installation art, textile art and hangings.  We will discuss whether contemporary African artists work in the Western art world or the African world or both, and which dominates each artist.  How do modern African artists create their artistic identities and how to they use them once they are created?  Who is a modern ‘African’ artist?

Learning goals and Assessment:

  • To learn the appropriate vocabulary and critical tools for discussing and writing about
  • works of art.
  • To gain awareness of the major stylistic developments in the world of contemporary and modern African art. To understand the complicated colonial and postcolonial histories that inform modern and contemporary African art.
  • To be able to communicate easily and logically what the student has learned in both written and oral form.
  • To evaluate different ways of studying an object as presented in the readings and to synthesize the information from multiple sources in order to generate new insights.


There will be two 3-4 page papers and a final.  The papers will analyze the cultural, political and economic context of the assigned art work.  You will be challenged to relate these conditions to a reading that discusses or relates to the artwork in question.  The midterm and final will follow the format of the papers.  All assigned readings are required and should be completed before class to enable your full participation.


Students are expected to attend all classes; if you anticipate missing one or two classes, please use the University absence reporting website to indicate the date and reason for your absence.  An email is automatically sent to me and repeated absences will seriously affect your final grade.


  • Two Papers = 50%
  • Class Participation in Discussion: 25%
  • Final exam: 25%



Disclaimer: These course descriptions/synopses pages have been provided as samples and the information should not be considered accurate or current.  For actual course information, refer to the course site hosted by a Rutgers Learning Management System (Sakai, Canvas, etc.) as of first day of class.