The Body in 20th Century Art


1) To provide students an extensive reflection on 20th century art, drawing from the body´s representation.
2) To understand the figuration/ representation reformulations in the context of the first avant-gardes.
3) Taking for reference the binomial body-representation/ body-action, to recognize the connections between the first and the second avant-gardes.
4) To acknowledge the developments that, in the scope of body and experimentalism, determined 20th century´s second half artistic production.
5) To apply the acquired knowledge and to develop critical skills through the discussion of selected theoretical texts and the development of a short essay.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Available soon


Weekly - 3 letivas + 1 tutorial

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





AGAMBEN, G. (2009), Nudità, Roma: Nottetempo
ARDENNE; P. (2001), L’image du corps, figure de l’humain dans l’art du XX siécle, Paris: Editions du Regard
BISHOP, C. (2012), Artificial Hells. Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. London / New York: Verso
DELEUZE, G. (1996), Logique de la sensation, Paris, Éditions de la Différence
DIDI-HUBERMAN, G. (2004), Images Malgré Tout, Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit
JONES, A.; WARR, T, ed. (2000), The Artist´s Body, London / New York: Phaidon Press
KRAUSS, R. (1990), Le Photographique. Pour une Théorie des Écarts, Paris: Macula
SCHIMMEL, P., org. (1998), Out of Actions. Between Performance and the Object 1949-1979, New York: Thames and Hudson

Teaching method

This curricular unit is based on sessions that regularly combine an exposition component and a group debate that addresses each topic of the programme. The aim of this methodology is to deepen and consolidate the acquired knowledge and ensure the students critical and active involvement in the discussion of referential texts previously selected by the teacher.

Evaluation method

The final evaluation is based both on the students performance concerning the preparation and participation in the regular class debates (30%), and on the development of an individual final essay (70%).

Subject matter

1) Body´s representation and \"mimesis\" avatars. Old masters´ legacy and the ruptures introduced by Manet, Cézanne and Rodin. Photography´s role in the redefinition of painting. Distortion, disfigurements and recreations.
2) The human figure as a pretext for “plastic” speculation. Body representation in Cubism and the issue of primitivism.
3) Body in motion: Futurism and the notions of \"dynamic complementarism\" and \"simultaneity\".
4) Man Ray, Max Ernst, René Magritte and the metamorphoses of the body image in Surrealism.
5) Post war representation (im)possibility. Francis Bacon and “the flesh”.
6) Body in “action”: from Pollock’s “drippings” to Yves Klein’s “living paintbrushes”.
7) The body as artwork and the crisis of the iconic models. Performance and Body Art.