Press Release  January 14, 2020

What Is Contemporary Art?: MoMA Launches Free Online Course

© 2019 The Museum of Modern Art

Still from Artist Story film with Sheila Hicks.

NEW YORK, NY — The Museum of Modern Art launches the free massive open online course What Is Contemporary Art?, available now on Coursera. This course offers an in-depth look at over 70 works of art from MoMA’s collection—many of which are currently on view in the expanded Museum—from 1980 to the present, with a focus on art produced in the last decade. Learners will hear directly from artists, architects, and designers from around the globe about their creative processes, materials, and inspiration. What Is Contemporary Art? can be found at mo.ma/whatiscontemporaryart.

What Is Contemporary Art? is organized around five themes: Media from Television to the Internet, Territories & Transit, Materials & Making, Agency, and Power. These themes are explored through artworks drawn from every curatorial department at MoMA. Examples include 3-D–printed glass and fiber sculptures, performances in a factory and a museum, interventions into televisions and video games, painted portraits and those made with artificial intelligence, and explorations of the body and collective actions, among many others.

© 2019 The Museum of Modern Art

Still from Artist Story film with Sheila Hicks.

The course features four new, original films made with Sheila Hicks, Arthur Jafa, Pope.L, and Rael San Fratello, whose works are currently on view in the Museum. Additionally, the course features 30 audio and email interviews with artists in MoMA’s collection, including Beatriz González, Xiao Lu, Dayanita Singh, Amanda Williams, Sheela Gowda, JODI, and Revital Cohen and Tuur van Balen, among others. Learners will develop a deeper understanding of both artists’ practices today and some of the many ways they respond to pressing issues and questions of our time.

This course was created by MoMA’s Department of Education, in collaboration with curatorial staff including Sean Anderson, Associate Curator, Department of Architecture and Design; Erica Papernik, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance; Sophie Cavoulacos, Assistant Curator, Department of Film; Arièle Dionne-Krosnick, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design; and Christian Rattemeyer, former Harvey S. Shipley Miller Associate Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints.

MoMA’s Online Courses:
MoMA has offered free massive open online courses on Coursera since 2012, including three courses for K–12 teachers and courses for general audiences on photography, modern art, abstract painting, and fashion. To date, more than 700,000 learners have enrolled in MoMA courses on Coursera. Since 2011, Volkswagen Group of America has provided crucial support for MoMA’s groundbreaking digital learning initiatives and has helped the Museum reach a worldwide audience of learners. VW’s support has allowed MoMA to expand the reach of its courses from the classroom to digital, and toward interactive, self-guided learning.

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