WEEK ONE: 14-18 July 2014

Course 5: Dr Lois Oliver

Paris: Art, Audiences and the Avant-Garde, c. 1863-1900


This course is now FULL

This course explores the extraordinary artistic developments that took place in Paris in the second half of the nineteenth century, as artists responded to a city in transformation. While Baron Haussmann’s major rebuilding programme modernised the urban environment, the swelling ranks of the bourgeoisie enjoyed new prosperity and leisure time, becoming avid consumers of novel forms of entertainment and an increasingly influential force in the art market.

Artists responded to this social and cultural modernity with innovative subject matter and ways of painting that frequently shocked the gallery-going public. We explore the relationship between avant-garde art and the work of the Old Masters, and consider the importance of nineteenth-century exhibition culture and art as spectacle. We also examine how artists themselves became increasingly popular subjects for literature, theatre and opera.   

A direct engagement with art is a major feature of the programme.  We will make full use of the magnificent collections of The Courtauld Institute, the National Gallery, and the British Museum to examine at first hand the work of key artists including Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georges Seurat, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Vincent Van Gogh.


Course 6: Dr Natalia Murray

Russian Art 1863-1932: Innovations, Influences and the Roots of Modernity

This course is now FULL

This course examines the history of Russian art in all its diversity from the first artists’ rebellion against St. Petersburg’s almighty Art Academy in 1863, the blossoming of arts in Russia’s ‘Silver Age’, to the upsurge of avant-garde art and its subsequent disappearance after 1932, when Socialist Realism became the only artistic style permitted in the Soviet Union. We will look at the cultural as well as geographical boundaries of Russian art, and its contact with developments in European art  as well as the shifts of cultural context, which often occurred through emigration, cultural export, exhibitions, publications, and collaborations.  The complex nature of the Russian avant-garde, its origins and roots, will be examined throughout the course. We will also look at traditional Russian art and icons and their influence on the Russian avant-garde, and will discuss the works of Repin, Serov, Benois, Bakst, Somov, Vrubel, Malevich, Tatlin, Kandinsky, Filonov, Rodchenko, Chagall, Popova, and others.  Lastly, we will examine the influence of political changes in Russia under Stalin on the development of Russian art. Visits include the Victoria and Albert Museum (Ballets Russes drawings and stage designs); the Naum Gabo archive at Tate Britain; the British Museum, and The Courtauld Gallery.


Course 7: Dr Richard Cork

Making it New: Modernism in the Early 20th Century

This course is now FULL

With seismic explosiveness, young artists across Europe changed the course of painting and sculpture soon after the new century began. A series of revolutionary movements erupted, beginning with Fauvism in France and Expressionism in Germany. The Italian Futurists were the most clamorous but the Cubists in Paris proved the most far-reaching. Then, in 1914, London was shocked by the advent of Vorticism and its rumbustious magazine BLAST. This course explores the rebellious momentum of an exciting period. However, it terminates in the tragedy of the First World War when many avant-garde artists found themselves caught up in a blood-bath. Visits include The Courtauld Gallery’s display of twentieth-century art, Tate Modern, the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art and the Imperial War Museum.


Course 8: Dr Katie Hill

Contemporary  Chinese Art: Practices and Debates from 1989 to the Present



detail, photo, group of people in frieze-like formation in a park, holding images of Ai Weiwei's head in front of their own faces

Protest "Alle für Ai Weiwei", dOCUMENTA 13, photo © Kritiker9

This course offers a survey of contemporary Chinese art starting with the first major exhibition held in Beijing in 1989. We will focus on movements in contemporary art concurrent with rapid urbanisation and economic developments in China during the 1990s.  The course will trace China’s relationship with the international art world as it emerged during a decade of globalisation, and explore the Chinese avant-garde’s quest to find a distinct artistic voice. Following decades of Socialist Realism, contemporary Chinese art is characterised by a diversification of media and by the re-emergence of classical forms and ideas in art practice. We will consider a wide range of artistic expression, from photography, installation, and performance to painting and sculpture. Finally, the course will cover the phenomenon of the new Chinese art world that emerged at the turn of the millennium and evolved rapidly with the rise of art districts, new museums, auction houses and galleries.  Throughout, we will focus closely on works by a number of key artists, including Yang Fudong, Ai Weiwei and Zeng Fanzhi, and place the development of contemporary Chinese art, and its relations to the international art world in the context of the country’s challenging political and cultural situation. 

WEEK TWO: 21- 25 July 2014

Course 15: Dr Klara Kemp-Welch

Art and Revolution: East European Art from 1917-1989


This course offers a survey of modern and contemporary art from the former Soviet Union and the Central European Soviet satellites. We will focus on the dynamic relationship of artistic practice to the rise and fall of communism in the Soviet bloc. The first part of the course will explore painting, photography, film and design in the decades following the revolution of 1917, mapping the aspirations of avant-garde figures like Kasimir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko, Sergei Eisenstein, and Dziga Vertov, and the rationale for the introduction of Socialist Realism as official orthodoxy in 1934. In the second part of the course we will focus on the emergence of non-conformist art in the decades following the denunciation of the Stalinist Cult of Personality by Khrushchev, in 1956. Our discussions will include Tadeusz Kantor’s theatre, International Mail Art practices, and the installations of Ilya Kabakov, among others, and will explore relevant writings by key dissidents such as Václav Havel. The course concludes with an examination of the seismic transformations of 1989-91 and their implications for cultural life in the ‘former-East’. Visits include relevant displays at Tate Modern, Calvert 22 and GRAD. 

WEEK THREE: 28 July - 1 August 2014

Course 22: Dr Rachel Sloan

Dreams and Nightmares: Symbolism in an International Context, 1878-1900



detail of seated woman facing the viewer from Gauguin's Te Rerioa
Paul Gauguin, Te Rerioa (The Dream), detail, 1897, The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Symbolism – a cultural movement that encompassed literature, the visual arts, and music – sought to peel away external realities and search for deeper meaning by exploring the imagination, the emotions and states of mind. Fixed boundaries between art forms were eroded as its proponents sought to create a new form, the Gesamtkunstwerk or ‘total work of art’. It can also be considered the first truly international artistic movement; however, because the first attempt to articulate a Symbolist aesthetic programme was the French poet Jean Moréas, it has long been regarded as a French movement with a few foreign imitators.

This course looks at Symbolism in a truly international context, situating well-known figures such as Paul Gauguin, Odilon Redon, the Nabis (Edouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard and Maurice Denis), Edward Burne-Jones, Aubrey Beardsley, Edvard Munch, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Fernand Khnopff and Gustav Klimt within a vital and complex network of international exchange, be it through exhibitions, patronage, publications or personal contacts. The course will prioritise close visual analysis, and the group will visit the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Britain and The Courtauld Gallery to discuss works in detail.


Course 23: Professor Alan Powers

Émigrés: the Impact of Outsiders on English Art, Architecture and Design, 1910-40



The course takes the theme of émigrés in the development of early English Modernism, assessing the relationship between their individual stories and the influence they had on England, disrupting and challenging national conservatism.   We will discuss architecture, sculpture, painting, design, graphics, photography and film, since there were explicit links between these fine art and commercial activities. Internationally famous figures, including Epstein, Gropius, Breuer and Moholy-Nagy will be put into a wider context among lesser-known individuals and a broader picture of émigré activity will be presented, from perspectives of assimilation, and economic status.

This was a phenomenon with recognizable phases and groupings, beginning with individuals who catalyzed indigenous artists. The course proceeds chronologically, starting with the dramatic changes in 1910 linked to Epstein and Ezra Pound. It continues with anglophone artists from the USA, Australia and New Zealand who were important in the late 1920s, especially in architecture and graphics. The final phase of immigration in response to the Nazi threat to life and artistic freedom, is probably the best known, although not always well understood. The diverse factions within Modernism related to different visions of a better future, which were fiercely contested between themselves, engaging both local and émigré critics.


Course 24: Dr Matthias Vollmer

The Shadows of the Past: Art in Germany from 1945 to Today


Denouncing avant-garde art movements like Expressionism, Dada, Surrealism, New Objectivity and the Bauhaus as ‘degenerate’, the Nazi regime promoted a ‘true German art’ mostly in the tradition of German nineteenth-century realistic painting. After World War II, West German abstract artists such as Willi Baumeister, Ernst Wilhelm Nay and ‘Wols’ sought to come to terms with the traumatic legacy of the country's recent history. Simultaneously, East German artists like Bernhard Heisig and Werner Tübke presented idiosyncratic interpretations of official ‘Socialist Realism’. In both Germanys artists developed distinctive versions of modern and postmodern art - at times in accord with their political cultures, at other times in opposition to them.

Joseph Beuys and Anselm Kiefer were the first to gain an international reputation. Joerg Immendorf and Georg Baselitz brought about a revival of figurative painting and, after his escape to West Germany, Dresden-born Gerhard Richter together with Sigmar Polke introduced the notion of ‘Capitalist Realism’.  We shall also explore the ‘neutral’ views of industrial architectural forms by Bernd and Hilla Becher and the art of Neo Rauch, ‘the painter who came (in) from the cold’. These complex developments will be examined in the context of relevant political and cultural discourses in post-war Germany.

WEEK FOUR: 4 - 8 August 2014

Course 30: Dr Caroline Levitt

Picasso and Matisse: Approaches to Modernism



This course is now FULL

Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse are two of the best known names in the history of twentieth-century art. This course will begin by asking why this might be the case and by thinking about what their different approaches can tell us about the nature and characteristics of ‘modern’ art or ‘modernism’. Through looking at their work, we will approach themes such as form and colour, the ‘primitive’ and the ‘exotic’, the sacred and the classical, genre and gender, and the decorative. We will think about the role of critics, collectors and dealers in the period and will challenge and test critical tools such as chronology, biography and artists’ statements. In discovering overlaps and contradictions in the work of these two so-called ‘modern masters’, we will aim to better understand their work in a variety of media (from sculpture and painting to illustration, ceramics and stained glass) within the context of the various ‘modern’ art movements and artists they engaged with or shunned. Visits will include Tate Modern’s major Matisse retrospective, the permanent collections at Tate and the print room at the British Museum. 


Course 31: Dr Jerzy Kierkuc-Bielinski

From Pollock to Pop: American Art c. 1930-1972


detail of giant spider sculpture at dusk
Louise Bourgeois, Maman, outside the National Gallery of Canada, 2005, photo @ Radagast

This is a survey of major artistic developments in the United States from the first beginnings of Modernism to the early 1970s, when Modernist practice began to be questioned. The shift from medium-specific to medium-resistant practices (site-specific work, conceptual art) is a central concern. Throughout, we will consider artistic production in relation to larger patterns of historical and cultural change. We will explore the ‘Ashcan School’ and the seminal Armory Show; Precisionism in the context of the 1920s economic boom and of European avant-gardes; Regionalist painters and the impact of the Great Depression; and the development of Abstract Expressionism (and Pop Art’s reaction to it) in the context of Surrealism and the influence of Marcel Duchamp. We will look at figures like Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, as well as at less readily defined artists like Louise Bourgeois and Joseph Cornell. Minimalist, post-minimalist and conceptual art will be studied in the context of the civil rights movement, feminism and gay rights. Works by Eva Hesse and Robert Morris and the architectural interventions by Gordon Matta-Clark will be examined in light of the political and economic questioning of the art establishment. Visits include Tate Modern and the British Museum’s Print room.

Course 32: Janine Catalano

From Still-Life to Eat-Art: Food as Subject and Medium in Modern and Contemporary Art



detail of fruit on a plate and pot of primroses from a still-life by Cezanne
Paul Cézanne, Pot of Primroses and Fruit, 1888-1890 © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Food and consumption have always featured in art.  And, like so many other subjects, from the female figure to religious imagery, its familiarity has made it a theme ripe for exploration and exploitation by various artistic innovators from the late nineteenth century onwards.  Indeed, when in 1947 Picasso declared, ‘It is not necessary to paint a man with a gun; an apple can be equally revolutionary’, he captured the potency artists found in embracing and often upending these basic staples of daily life.

This course critically examines major artistic movements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries through this lens.  Beginning with the Cubist fracturing of fruit, the unpalatable ‘formulas’ in the Futurist Cookbook, and the subversive scenes of the Surrealists, we will then explore Fluxist productions, Pop Art iconography, the Eat-Art movement, and feminist art.  We will discuss food as subject and also as medium, particularly in contemporary performance and installation art, and explore the viewers’ role both in art making and art consumption in this context.

Artists discussed will include canonical figures like Salvador Dalí, Juan Gris, Roy Lichtenstein and Damien Hirst, food-art pioneers such as Daniel Spoerri and Gordon Matta-Clark, and cutting-edge innovators like Jennifer Rubell and Rirkrit Tiravanija.