Course 17: Dr Mellie Naydenova-Slade

The Gothic Image: Exploring the Medieval Imagination


detail of hand-clasped couple from ivory casket with courtship scenes
Ivory casket with scenes of courtship, detail, France, 1st half of 14th century, ©The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London
The making of medieval art was typically a collaborative process, involving numerous craftsmen as well as patrons whose wishes were closely followed. As a result, medieval images often reflect the creative vision of more than one individual, making them a particularly fascinating topic of study. Focusing on the Gothic period (c.1140-1500) this course will explore the imaginative universe which shaped Gothic art, offering an exciting opportunity to become familiar with images in a variety of media, including panel and wall painting, sculpture, stained glass, manuscript illumination, metalwork and textiles. Both religious and secular subjects will be covered, from familiar images representing well-known biblical stories, to art works which record tales of magic, combat, romance, and much more besides. In the first instance, the various types of images under consideration will be contextualised and elucidated, giving participants the necessary tools to understand and interpret medieval art. Building on that, we will question who was responsible for shaping the meaning of Gothic images, to what extent patrons left their own mark on the works of art they commissioned, and, perhaps most interestingly, how the imagination of the people for whom they were made is likely to have augmented their intended effect.


Course 18: Dr Susan Jones

Art and Society in Renaissance Bruges


This course is now full

This course will consider how objects in a range of media were used, viewed and understood in fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Bruges.  Over five days, we will study works of art that illuminate five different but overlapping spheres in the life of this important Netherlandish trade emporium and cultural centre: the town government, the Burgundian court, international trade, the church and privately-funded projects. For each of these areas, we will select objects and related documents which can help us to understand rituals, ideas, values and beliefs that characterized contemporary Bruges society. These will include some of the most splendid and exquisitely-crafted objects of a period in which the love of materials was matched by a growing awareness of  the unique artistic skill of individual  craftsmen: illuminated manuscripts by the Ghent-Bruges school,  the fifteenth-century stained glass windows from the Chapel of the Holy Blood, exquisite enamel silverware from the Burgundian court, and, of course, the sophisticated and technically brilliant panel paintings of Jan van Eyck, Petrus Christus, Hans Memling and Gerard David.  We will visit the rich collections of objects made in Bruges and Flanders in London collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery and the British Library.

Please note that Dr Jones will also explore the great artistic tradition of Bruges during a Study Tour from 12 – 14 September 2014.  Both Summer School course and Tour are entirely free-standing and one does not require participation in the other. 


Course 19: Dr Peter Dent

The Art of the Embodied Soul: An Introduction to Sculpture

N.B: please note that due to unforeseen circumstances, Peter Dent will not be able to  take part in Summer School 2014. This course will now be taught by sculpture specialist Dr Jim Harris

This course is now full

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.



Course 20: Dr James Hall

The Self-Portrait: a Cultural History



This course is now full

Detail of self-portrait of Van Gogh with bandaged right ear
Vincent Van Gogh, Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, detail, 1889, The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Self-portraiture appears to be the defining genre of our age.  Artists like Tracy Emin and Gilbert & George specialise in self-portrayal, while Old and Modern Master exhibitions are routinely prefaced by self-portraits. Confessional self-portraiture, visual and verbal, proliferates on TV and online.

This course aims to put self-portraiture in its historical and cultural context.  Famous artists, from Rembrandt to Van Gogh,  will be seen in a fresh light, and less familiar but fascinating figures will be introduced.  We will explore the genre’s origins in antiquity, and especially the middle ages - obsessed by mirrors and self-scrutiny. We will move on to the Renaissance and Baroque periods, with the creation and publication of collections of self-portraits, and public interest in artists’ studios and processes.  In the later stages, we will see how the traditional tendency to create a ‘definitive’ self-portrait gave way to the creation of multiple ‘tracker’ self-portraits. During the last hundred years, we will investigate how the conventional emphasis on the head and shoulders is replaced by emphasis on the body and the use of masks.

We will visit The Courtauld Gallery and print room; the British Museum print room; the Royal Academy of Arts, and the National Portrait Gallery.



Course 21: Timothy Wilcox

The Art of Light and Atmosphere: Watercolour Painting in England and Beyond


Watercolour is a medium that achieves an astonishingly wide range of effects and appeals to the professional and amateur artist alike. Rather than thinking of English watercolour painting in artistic isolation and focusing largely on the medium’s technical aspects, we will reconnect it to contemporary contexts of drawing, painting, printmaking and writing. Watercolour painting was of significance to a variety of social and cultural practices, including gardening, travel and tourism, patronage, the rise of art exhibitions and the role of artists’ societies. We will study these rich and varied contexts in conjunction with major works by outstanding English artists, including Paul Sandby, Francis Towne, John Robert Cozens, Thomas Girtin, John Sell Cotman, JMW Turner and Samuel Palmer.  The final day will counter the conventional idea that watercolour painting is a particularly English phenomenon by considering watercolour traditions in Scotland, in Continental Europe and in the USA, and will conclude with a session on the international status of watercolour in the modern era.

Course 22: Dr Rachel Sloan

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



Detail of seated woman 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.