First-Year Writing Contest


Chris Shirley


First-Year Writing Contest 2004

Document Type


Date of Award


Author Comments

While they have always been an area of amateur interest, the visual arts have never been the subject of close personal scrutiny by me. I have mostly been interested in whether I think a piece of art is good, whether it communicates something to me as an individual; I have never thought too intently about the social or political motivations behind the production of art. This all changed when we began to look at the visual art of the Sixties in Profs. Reed and Schneiderman’s class concerning the American Avant-Garde. I learned that my position was woefully behind the times, that serious aesthetic criticism had been based on politics for decades by the time of Andy Warhol and Frank Stella. For this paper, we were asked to judge whether two artistic movements, Pop and Minimalism, were the “true” artistic Avant-Garde of the Sixties and to compare both to the political Avant-Gardes of the time. I found that these artistic and political movements were, in fact, very closely related and that the rhetoric of political analysis could be applied with great effect to aesthetic evaluation.

Faculty Advisor

David Schneiderman and Professor Christopher Reed



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