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Online · School of Communication & the Arts · Studio & Digital Arts

20th-21st Century Art

  • CG
  • Section 8WK
  • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020
  • Modified 09/05/2023

Course Description

This course presents a comprehensive study of the varied art forms from the beginning of the 20th century to the present, focusing upon the major artists and art movements, including Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Postmodernism. The course will entail an examination of how art is disseminated, understood, and at times, misunderstood. Students will read, write about, and discuss essays, criticism, and interviews covering a wide range of media, and visit artists' studios and exhibition venues. Two analytical papers based upon studies of the visual images focusing on the agency of the image, the social practices and effects of its viewing and the specificity of views taken by various audiences are required.


For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


A knowledge of 20th–21st Century Art remains of enormous importance for the historian of western civilization and for the practicing artist. The innovations and masterpieces created during the Modern and Postmodern Periods exemplify foundational cognitive and technical developments that are vital to anyone wishing to understand the western tradition of the visual arts and to work within that tradition intelligently.

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Recognize the primary artists, movements, and masterpieces of the Modern and Postmodern periods.
  2. Understand and define the major technical developments utilized by these artists.
  3. Contextualize particular artworks within the greater scope of history and western civilization, relating them to the whole of the tradition that comprises one’s heritage, in theory and practice. Through this interpretive process, the student will develop critical and analytical skills.
  4. Express observations and critical opinions concerning the visual arts of the 20th–21st centuries via tests, interactive lectures, class discussions, and research papers.
  5. Further develop research skills related to using library resources and/or scholarly Internet sites.
  6. Apply critical and analytical skills to reading and writing assignments.
  7. Demonstrate an appreciation for the range of new media used by Western artists over the course of the 20th century up to the present for communication.
  8. Develop a Christian perspective related to visual communications.

General Education Foundational Skill Learning Outcomes:

Critical Thinking: the ability to use analytical, evaluative, logical, and reasonable patterns of thought to establish coherent beliefs, ethics, and strategic decisions.

CT 1: Determine the validity and logical consistency of claims and/or positions, using reading comprehension strategies when relevant.

CT 2: Structure an argument or position using credible evidence and valid reasoning.

CT 3: Compare and contrast the biblical worldview with a non-biblical worldview, evaluating the influence of assumptions and contexts on ethics and values.

CT 4: Plan evidence-based courses of action to resolve problems.

CT 5: Relate critical thinking and ethics to participation in God’s redemptive work.

Course Resources

Click on the following link to view the required resource(s) for the term in which you are registered: Liberty University Online Bookstore.

Additional Materials for Learning 

  1. Computer with basic audio/video output equipment
  2. Internet access (broadband recommended)
  3. Canvas recommended browsers
  4. Microsoft Word

Course Assignments

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (2)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student will create a thread in response to the provided prompt for each discussion. Each thread must be at least 300 words, demonstrate course-related knowledge, and be supported by biblical principles. In addition to the thread, the student will reply to the threads of at least 2 classmates. The replies must be at least 150 words and must also be supported by biblical principles.

Journal Entry Video Tour Assignments (7)

The student will complete video tours through various museums and historic locations. Each assignment must have a journal entry of at least 400 words and contain at least 1 citation in current MLA format. This assignment is intended to familiarize the student with collections of 20th and 21st century work in national and international museums and galleries.

Arts at My Church Blog Assignment (3)

The student will complete 3 assignments based on the use of arts at his or her church location. This may include dance, visual art, music, theatre, or architecture. Each assignment will cover a different art form and include a blog post for the class to view. Each post will contain at least 1 image and a description of at least 150 words of the work at the student’s church.

Virtual Art Exhibit Assignments (5)

The student will visit online museums and galleries that include art from the 20th and 21st century. There are numerous examples in both Christian and secular galleries and museums. Each student will visit 5 virtual art exhibits and write a 100 word summary about the artist from each and include a link to his or her work. 

Quizzes (8)

Each quiz will cover the learned material for the Module: Week in which it is assigned. Each quiz will be open-book/open-notes, contain 10 multiple-choice questions, and have a 20 minute time limit.

Course Grading

Course Requirements Checklist


Discussions (2 @ 35 pts ea.)


Journal Entry Video Tour Assignments (7 @ 50 pts ea.)


Arts at My Church Blog Assignments (3 @ 55 pts ea.)


Virtual Art Exhibit Assignments (5) (1 @ 25 pts, 1 @ 30 pts, 1 @ 100 pts, 2 @ 50 pts ea.)


Quizzes (8 at 20 pts ea.)




Course Policies

Issues of Conscience

While we do not write the textbooks we use in our courses, we do choose them based on our curricular needs, as most programs do.  There are only a few top quality art and design books that are appropriate for collegiate level art study – especially, in a more focused art programs such as the Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Fine Arts offered by the Studio & Digital Arts Department - and nearly all contain material that could be deemed offensive.  However, our courses are far more than our textbook adoptions.  In addition to the textbook, we augment our courses with lectures, readings, videos, and activities etc… to address the learning outcomes and to improve student learning.  The following is a list of images from the Arnason book used in our course, and related to our specific readings, that could potentially generate an issue of conscience  

List of Images Related To Content Areas

Page 46, Figure 3.5

Page 74, Figure 4.6

Page 87, Figure 4.28

Page 112, Figure 6.1

Page 132 Figure 6.30

Page 224, Figure 10.14

Page 243, Figure 11.1

Page 315, Figure 14.24

Page 316, 14.25, 14.26

Page 480, Figure 19.45

Page 570, Figure 22.21

Page 571, Figure 22.22

Page 578, Figure 22.33

Page 615, Figure 23.46

Page 678, Figures 35.17, 25.18

Page 694, Figures 25.40, 25.41

Page 700, Figure 26.8

Page 711, Figure 26.23

Page 714, Figure 26.28

Pedagogical Reasoning

The study of human anatomy is commonplace within arts pedagogy, and, in some technical respects, it has become analogous to the study of human anatomy in medical schools (but, in the arts, one sometimes unfortunately also finds moral declension). It also is a recurrent component within art historical texts. Given these factors, it becomes next to impossible to find an appropriate text which also minimizes the treatment of human anatomy and eschews the inclusion of the nude. After extensive and considered reviewing of a number of potential texts, it seemed to our faculty that these were acceptable and that the content was no more objectionable than the alternative texts available to us in that regard. Indeed, there are other texts with far more explicit content. 

Our goal in placing this note that describes potentially offensive or inappropriate content is so that students can be aware and can take the necessary precautions to avoid that material or, drop the course entirely.

Redemptive Reasoning

 The first attribute of God we learn (Gen. 1:1) is that He is CREATOR. As our creative model, we also believe that God has established the vocation of artist as one who seeks to glorify God by engaging in creative activities that draw others to the wonder of God and his creation (Ex. 35:30-35).

To that end, we believe that there are artists who are called to accurately represent the human form in an artistic and accurate way, and to do that we study the human form as a creative expression of the Image of God. Not dissimilar to the ways in which a physician studies the human body to better understand how it was created to best function; it is our vocation to help teach those with that calling to develop and use their gifts in ways that glorify and honor God.

 At the same time, we also recognize our responsibility to brothers and sisters in Christ who may have an issue of conscience (1 Cor. 10) with the study of the human form, and we take this responsibility seriously. Our intention is never to promote the ungodly and the vulgar in any issue related to cultural issues, nor is it to cause our brothers and sisters in the Lord to stumble, rather, we wish to encourage them to pursue the art/design that God has called them to create. We do not instruct our students in such a way as to inflame the carnal, but we understand that every student is different and comes to the study of art with different backgrounds and matters of conscience. We want to students to gain a full understanding of God’s purposes for their abilities and cultivate an appreciation for art that is good, beautiful, and true and skills that are excellent.

Our founder often said, “If it’s Christian, it must be better.” We take that mandate to include a fully robust arts curriculum that provokes students toward excellence.  Our strategy is to equip them, to the best of our abilities, academically, professionally and spiritually. This whole-person approach is essential when preparing young artists who will engage culture with works of truth and beauty. 

 Cultural Mandate

 We believe artists play a major role in shaping our culture.  The vision for our degree offerings is to prepare a generation of artists/designers who both love the Lord AND have comprehensive academic training which allows them to engage in all levels of the art/design world. To help students break into highly competitive careers, we created programs that are unique because of our commitment to Christ.  Our courses are taught by Christians and from a Christian worldview who are dedicated to pour into the lives of students, preparing them to face the real-world difficulties of their field, should they choose to fully pursue a career in the arts.  

Our ultimate aim is to glorify God with our expressions of art in all forms both traditional or digital – whether on the canvas, the stage, or any number of screens (large to small). And simultaneously, to provoke responses in our viewing publics to consider the truths found therein. Then, we trust the Holy Spirit to do His work in drawing us all to the Father (John 16:13-14; 1 John 5:6).


Late Assignment Policy

Course Assignments, including discussions, exams, and other graded assignments, should be submitted on time.

If the student is unable to complete an assignment on time, then he or she must contact the instructor immediately by email.

Assignments that are submitted after the due date without prior approval from the instructor will receive the following deductions:

  1. Late assignments submitted within one week after the due date will receive up to a 10% deduction.
  2. Assignments submitted more than one week and less than 2 weeks late will receive up to a 20% deduction.
  3. Assignments submitted two weeks late or after the final date of the course will not be accepted outside of special circumstances (e.g. death in the family, significant personal health issues), which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the instructor.
  4. Group projects, including group discussion threads and/or replies, and assignments will not be accepted after the due date outside of special circumstances (e.g. death in the family, significant personal health issues), which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the instructor.

Disability Assistance

Students with a disability and those with medical conditions associated with pregnancy may contact Liberty University’s Online Office of Disability Accommodation Support (ODAS) at [email protected] for accommodations.  Such accommodations require appropriate documentation of your condition.   For more information about ODAS and the accommodations process, including how to request an accommodation, please visit Requests for accommodations not related to disabilities or pregnancy must be directed to the Registrar’s Office, which generally handles medical needs support.

If you have a complaint related to disability discrimination or an accommodation that was not provided, you may contact ODAS or the Office of Equity and Compliance by phone at (434) 592-4999 or by email at [email protected].  Click to see a full copy of Liberty’s Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy or the Student Disability Grievance Policy and Procedures.

Course Attendance

In an effort to comply with U.S. Department of Education policies, attendance is measured by physical class attendance or any submission of a required assignment within the enrollment dates of the course (such as examinations, written papers or projects, any discussion posts, etc.) or initiating any communication with one’s professor regarding an academic subject. More information regarding the attendance policy can be found in the Academic Course Catalogs. Regular attendance in online courses is expected throughout the length of the term. Students who do not attend within the first week of a sub-term by submitting a required academic assignment (such as the Course Requirements Checklist, an examination, written paper or project, discussion post, or other academic activity) will be dropped from the course. Students who wish to re-engage in the course are encouraged to contact Academic Advising to discuss their enrollment options. Students who begin an online course, but at some point in the semester cease attending, and do not provide official notification to withdraw, will be assigned a grade of “FN” (Failure for Non-Attendance). Students wishing to withdraw from courses after the official start date should familiarize themselves with the withdrawal policy.

Grading Scale

900-1010 800-899 700-799 600-699 0-599

For courses with a Pass/NP final grade, please refer to the Course Grading section of this syllabus for the assignment requirements and/or point value required to earn a Passing final grade.

Add/Drop Policy

The full policy statement and procedures are published in the Policy Directory.

Honor Code

Liberty University comprises a network of students, alumni, faculty, staff and supporters that together form a Christian community based upon the truth of the Bible. This truth defines our foundational principles, from our Doctrinal Statement to the Code of Honor. These principles irrevocably align Liberty University’s operational procedures with the long tradition of university culture, which remains distinctively Christian, designed to preserve and advance truth. Our desire is to create a safe, comfortable environment within our community of learning, and we extend our academic and spiritual resources to all of our students with the goal of fostering academic maturity, spiritual growth and character development.

Communities are predicated on shared values and goals. The Code of Honor, an expression of the values from which our Doctrinal Statement was born, defines the fundamental principles by which our community exists. At the core of this code lie two essential concepts: a belief in the significance of all individuals, and a reliance on the existence of objective truth.

While we acknowledge that some may disagree with various elements of the Code of Honor, we maintain the expectation that our students will commit to respect and uphold the Code while enrolled at Liberty University.

Adherence to the principles and concepts established within facilitates the success of our students and strengthens the Liberty community.

The Code of Honor can be viewed in its entirety at


Course calendar and related activities
When Topic Notes
Course Overview
Student Acknowledgements

Course Requirements Checklist

Module 1: Week 1

Read: 4 items

Watch: 6 items


Discussion: Modern Art through Impressionism

Journal Entry Video Tour: Modern Art through Impressionism Assignment

Quiz: Modern Art through Impressionism

Module 2: Week 2

Read: 3 items

Watch: 6 items


Journal Entry Video Tour: Post-Impressionism through Art Nouveau Assignment

Arts at My Church Blog: Post-Impressionism through Art Nouveau Assignment

Virtual Art Exhibit: Post-Impressionism through Art Nouveau Assignment

Quiz: Post-Impressionism through Art Nouveau

Module 3: Week 3

Read: 3 items

Watch: 5 items


Journal Entry Video Tour: Fauvism through Cubism Assignment 

Arts at My Church Blog: Fauvism through Cubism Assignment

Virtual Art Exhibit: Fauvism through Cubism Assignment 

Quiz: Fauvism through Cubism

Module 4: Week 4

Read: 4 items

Watch: 4 items


Journal Entry Video Tour: Dada through Bauhaus Assignment 

Arts at My Church Blog: Dada through Bauhaus Assignment 

Virtual Art Exhibit: Dada through Bauhaus Assignment 

Quiz: Dada through Bauhaus

Module 5: Week 5

Read: 3 items

Watch: 9 items


Journal Entry Video Tour: Surrealism through American Art before WWII Assignment 

Virtual Art Exhibit: Surrealism through American Art before WWII Assignment 

Quiz: Surrealism through American Art before WWII

Module 6: Week 6

Read: 4 items

Watch: 5 items


Journal Entry Video Tour: Nouveau through Realisme Assignment 

Virtual Art Exhibit: Nouveau through Realisme Assignment 

Quiz: Nouveau through Realisme

Module 7: Week 7

Read: 3 items

Watch: 5 items


Journal Entry Video Tour: Post-Minimalism through Postmodernism Assignment 

Quiz: Post-Minimalism through Postmodernism

Module 8: Week 8

Read: 2 items

Watch: 5 items


Discussion: Contemporary Art and Globalization

Quiz: Contemporary Art and Globalization