MA in Modern Art: Critical & Curatorial Studies (MODA)
This program is founded on the conviction that art historians and critics engaged with modern and contemporary art need to understand curatorial strategies. Similarly, curators should write with extensive knowledge of critical theory and art history.
Taking advantage of both Columbia's location and the department's close ties with The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among other institutions, the program immerses students in the art world of New York City. On-campus resources such as those provided by the School of the Arts and Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, further enrich the program's multi-faceted and interdisciplinary approach. Students learn from and are exposed to a wide-range of contemporary cultural practitioners, including art historians, artists, architects, critics, curators, theorists, designers and publishers, just as they build community across institutions and disciplines.
At the core of the program are the MA Critical and Curatorial Colloquia. The Critical Colloquium is taken in the first term of study and combines reading and analysis of texts by major theorists and critics. Each week discussions focus on key terms and analytical lenses in the history of art and art criticism.
The Curatorial Colloquium is taken in the second semester of study and introduces students to the history, theory and practice of object collection and display as well as to the history of exhibitions such as Documenta and the various biennials. Each colloquium both draws on the expertise and participation of Columbia's distinguished faculty and includes guest presentations on particular issues. Writers for Artforum, Grey Room, Texte zur Kunst, and October, as well as curators and museum professionals from MoMA, the Whitney, among other international and experimental venues, count among the colloquia's regular participants.
The MA in Modern Art welcomes applicants who wish to study 20th- and 21st-century art. For the free-standing M.A. in other fields or periods of art and architectural history, please see the MA in Art History. Columbia University also hosts the MA-Paris Exchange Program open to full-time MA students. For details about this program and eligibility criteria, please see Resources for MA students.
The program culminates in the preparation of an independent thesis. Students produce a written thesis based on rigorous, original research under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Students may also choose to conceptualize a thesis exhibition project, which can assume a variety of formats.
Established in 1997, this MA program is committed to enhancing students' ability to participate in professional activities and to formulate a critical position in relation to contemporary art and culture.