This intensive course has been designed for anyone with an interest in the history of ideas. No previous knowledge of art history or philosophy is required. The course is open to everyone over the age of 18. The number of participants is limited to 16.
Please note the differences in content between the spring and the autumn course: the March course focuses on art theory from c. 1790 to c. 1950, the September course takes up the story from c. 1950 to c. 2000. Both courses are entirely freestanding.
TEACHING METHOD: A number of significant case studies will help us examine these theories and their influence on art production and reception. Classroom sessions in the morning on ‘theory’ will be followed by close looking at individual works of art in the National Gallery, The Courtauld Gallery and Tate Modern in the afternoons.
SPRING COURSE: Ideas on art: A beginner’s course in Art Theory, c. 1790-c. 1950
Monday 27 – Wednesday 29 March 2017
Dr Matthias Vollmer
This course is now FULL.
Philosophical theories on the nature, characteristics and function of art, and more narrowly, on beauty, have been very influential in the development of art history and in the ways we have interpreted, and sometimes also made, images. The names of their authors crop up time and again in art-historical texts –Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, among others – but for all their impact, the theories of these philosophers are not always well or widely understood. From the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, art history came into its own as a serious academic discipline and influential art historians like Heinrich Wölfflin, Aby Warburg, Erwin Panofsky and Ernst Gombrich developed their own approaches to the study of art. Carl Jung´s psychoanalytical theory was also stimulating and influential for art and art theory, as was Charles Sanders Peirce’s semiotic reading of visual signs.
This course offers a thorough but accessible investigation of the influence of these important thinkers on art-historical writings and on the making of art from the 18th to the 20th centuries.
DAY 1: AESTHETICS AND ‘GENIUS’: KANT AND HEGEL
DAY 2: THE EMERGENCE OF ART HISTORY AND PSYCHOLOGY: WÖLFFLIN, WARBURG AND JUNG
DAY 3: SUBJECT-MATTER, ARTIST, AND SIGN: PANOFSKY, GOMBRICH, SEMIOTICS
AUTUMN COURSE: Ideas on art: A beginner’s course in Art Theory, c. 1950– c. 2000
Monday 18 – Wednesday 20 September 2017
Dr Matthias Vollmer
This course is now FULL
In the second half of the twentieth century, art history extended its perspective beyond questions of aesthetics and the formal properties of art. Social art history has examined the context of the historical situation in which a work of art was created and first seen, and this has arguably gained as much importance as the work itself. Art historians like T.J. Clark and Michael Baxandall set out to grasp the complex relations between art and society, to understand how the social, historical, economic and geographical setting related to the ‘who and how’ of making art. They took a keen interest in the place of art within the world of commerce, and examined the relationships between artists and patrons, and more widely, the ‘market’. Linda Nochlin’s article ‘Why have there been no great women artists?’ of 1971 gave tremendous momentum to feminist art history. The new art-historical discourse examined the ways in which a woman’s gaze differed from that of a man, and whether such gender differences had an impact on how we see and understand the world, and how we make and view art. Its analysis of gender ideologies in art history and art practice, of course, included the productions of the great (male) old masters, as well as those of more recent artists.
In 1992 W.J.T. Mitchell identified a ‘pictorial turn’ in the humanities, registering a renewed interest in, and prevalence of, images in a so-called ‘age of simulation’, with its extensive and increasingly diverse visual culture. ‘Bildgeschichte‘ (the history of the image) is a more recent form of German art history and focuses primarily on meaning, message and composition, not as an end in itself, but in pursuit of the image as a vehicle by which political and social power is enacted and disseminated. Art historians Hans Belting and Horst Bredekamp have extended the scope of their studies to investigate a much greater range of visual material and the contexts of its production, proposing a ‘Bildwissenschaft’ (the study of images) with a complex relationship to the older, institutionally more secure discipline of art history.
This course will trace the ideas of these important thinkers and examine their influence on art-historical writings and on the making and understanding of art and images in the second half of the twentieth century.
DAY 1: SOCIAL ART HISTORY: T.J. CLARK AND MICHAEL BAXANDALL
DAY 2: FEMINIST ART HISTORY: LINDA NOCHLIN AND GRISELDA POLLOCK
DAY 3: THE ‘PICTORIAL TURN’ AND THE NATURE OF IMAGES: W.J.T. MITCHELL, HANS BELTING AND HORST BREDEKAMP
Dr Matthias Vollmer is Adjunct Professor at the Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Programme. He studied History of Art, Philosophy, and Orientalism at the Freie Universität Berlin and did his PhD on medieval book illustration. Matthias teaches interdisciplinary seminars on medieval and Renaissance art, as well as courses on modern art at the Freie Universität Berlin, the Universität der Künste Berlin and the Universität Münster. He currently researches the principles of visualisation in art and science.