WEEK ONE: 9 - 13 July 2012

Course 5: Dr Peter Dent

The Art of the Embodied Soul: An Introduction to Sculpture


detail of bronze sculpture of boy drinking head and hand holding a bowl
A von Hildebrand, Drinking boy, 1870-3, bronze, photo © The Courtauld Institute of Art
Sculpture has a reputation as a difficult art, but nothing could be further from the truth.  While it certainly makes demands on the mind, it also moves the body.  It can engage the beholder in profoundly physical ways that frame our thoughts before they are even formed.  In this course, we will explore this sensory and intellectual appeal by examining sculptural techniques, the significance of materials, texture, and colour, and a fascinating mythology that ranges from the automatons of Hephaistos, to the tales of Pygmalion and the Golem.  Drawing on the ideas of writers like Pliny, Herder, and Rosalind Krauss, we will investigate different ways of thinking about sculpture.  Above all, we will listen to the voice of the sculptor.  Cellini, Hildebrand, and Louise Bourgeois, for example, have all spoken about their art.  During the week, these ideas and themes will be pursued through a broadly chronological structure running from ancient through to modern art.  There will be visits to the British Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum and Tate Modern, as well as the opportunity to experience public works in situ.  This course is a journey through the art of sculpture: five days, forty sculptures, three collections, and the streets of London.

WEEK TWO: 16 - 20 July 2012

Course 14: Dr Eileen Rubery

Beauty and Splendour Piece by Piece: The Art of Mosaics from Antiquity to the Renaissance

The fee for this course is £485 as the group will be limited to 10 students; this also includes the cost of course materials/workshops

detail of mosaic head of Angel against gold background
Detail of Abraham and three angels, Byzantine mosaic, Kykkos Monastery, Cyprus
The use of coloured fragments of glass, stone, shells and earthenware to decorate floors, walls and ceilings occurs from the earliest of times.  Mosaics form a robust, flexible and colourful decoration that also, especially when gold or silver is included, glitters and glows in the light, giving a unique impression of movement and liveliness.  We shall consider how mosaics were made and what messages they were intended to convey to the observer.  Starting with secular images in the remains of Pompeii, we shall move on to look at the earliest Christian examples in Rome and Roman Britain, the mosaics of the Imperial Palace and Byzantine churches of Constantinople, the mosaics of the Dome of the Rock and of Christian churches in the Holy Lands, and examples from Greece, Norman Sicily and Renaissance Venice.  We shall see how mosaics were used to create some of the most sumptuous and spectacular celebrations of religious and secular power.  Visits include the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.  There will also be practical sessions in a mosaic workshop, where we will see modern examples and where every student will have the opportunity to make a small mosaic of their own.

WEEK THREE: 23 - 27 July 2012

Course 23: Dr Susan Jones and Clare Richardson
Please note the change of lecturer.  Due to unforeseeable circumstances Dr Douglas Brine has had to withdraw from the course.  His part will now be taught by Van Eyck expert and Courtauld Visiting lecturer Dr Susan Jones.

Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden: Materials,  Methods and Meanings

The fee for this course is £485 as the group will be limited to 10 students; this also includes the cost of course materials

Please note this is a revised version of ‘Early Netherlandish Painting and Technical Art History’ previously taught by Clare Richardson and Susie Nash in 2009 and 2010

This course will examine Early Netherlandish painting in terms of the materials and methods it employed, and the meanings it delivered, by focusing on its most celebrated practitioners: Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden. Through case studies of such paintings as van Eyck’s enigmatic Arnolfini Portrait and van der Weyden’s haunting Descent from the Cross, we will explore how their extraordinary work achieved its effects and how it was valued and viewed by their patrons. We will trace the artists’ creative processes by investigating the properties and possibilities of oil paint, the manufacture and preparation of panel supports, the design and underdrawing of compositions, and the procedures of paint application. Consideration of the contexts for which paintings were intended will further elucidate their meaning, using the latest research to investigate questions of audience, setting and function. Students will be introduced to the technical research methods employed by art historians to understand panel paintings: original objects will be scrutinised in The Courtauld’s Conservation Studios using microscopy, x-radiography, and infrared reflectography. We will visit The Courtauld Gallery, the National Gallery and the British Museum to look at works by van Eyck and van der Weyden, their contemporaries and followers.