Summer Session Course: “Art and Corporate Culture: From Fluxus to the Yes Men”

Instructor: Wylie Schwartz

Binghamton University Department of Art History

Distance Learning Summer Session Course July 10 – August 11, 2017

This course explores the relationship between contemporary art and corporate culture. We begin with the corporation itself, in its postwar incarnation, as we examine the ways corporations have mobilized art and design, as well as the artists and designers whose work helped shape these emerging fields. From here, we consider Conceptual art as operating in terms of what Benjamin Buchloh referred to as an “aesthetics of administration.”  We go on to examine several case studies of artists and artist groups whose artistic practices specifically intervened within the sphere of corporate culture, whether as a form of institutional critique, such as Hans Haacke’s critique of Mobil sponsorship at the Museum of Modern Art, or the protests against BP sponsorship of British cultural institutions, or, as a form of collaboration, as in the case of the Artist Placement Group (APG) in postwar England. From there, we pivot to what we might call the “postmodern” corporation and the age of digital technologies, questioning how the subversive impulses of Paris in ’68 became folded into a new corporate culture, exemplified in the tendency of advertising to appropriate contemporary art, such as the case of Honda’s “Cog” commercial mimicking Fischli and Weiss’s “Lauf der Dinge.” We go on to examine how artists such as Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, and Jeff Koons turned themselves into corporations — the “branded” artist as it were, as well as the Conceptual play with that conceit in groups like Readymades Belong to Everyone. The course will conclude with a closer look at artistic practices that attempt to subvert that impulse by the Yes Men and other activist groups.




Two-credit undergraduate course: ARTH 284A–Introduction to Cultural Studies

In the 1970s, the study of art and literature in departments of Art History and English found itself overtaken and challenged by a new interest in popular culture, urban subcultures and movements of cultural resistance. But it was not only the objects of study that changed under the impact of this intellectual movement. For the emerging field of Cultural Studies, the old questions, concepts and hierarchies would not do either. So the engagement with a whole range of commercial, popular and dissident cultural forms went along with an opening to new analytical methods and theoretical frameworks and, indeed, to a new and unfamiliar vocabulary of critical terms.

This course offers an introduction to the emergence of this new field of studies and its new language. Through a survey of recent theories of cultural production and cultural meaning –– from semiotics to deconstruction and from psychoanalysis to Marxism and British Cultural Studies –– it will aim to assemble an alternative “tool kit” for understanding the material conditions, material effects and material constraints of cultural practices outside the privileged domains of art and literature.

2-credit course, beginning March 14. Open to all students. Lecture and discussion; weekly readings; occasional in class quizzes and take-home final.

Undergraduate Activities: Art History majors graduating with honors


Kudos to our Art History majors graduating with honors! Fulfillment of honors requirements includes a yearlong course sequence that culminates in the completion of a thesis. Congratulations to Colleen Stapleton, whose thesis is titled “Indifferent Objects: The Comedic in the Work of Rachel Harrison” (Advisor: Kevin Hatch) and to Aidan Quigley, author of “Vegetating Modernism: Understanding the Green Roof” (Advisor: Julia Walker).