New Course 9:
Spanish splendour: the Arts of Iberia 1350-1550
Dr Nicola Jennings
This course looks at the arts in the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile between 1350 and 1550, a period which saw the establishment of the new kingdom of Spain and the development of traditions of painting, architecture and sculpture which can today be seen in museums, churches and palaces around the world. With visits to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery, and the British Museum, the sessions will frame this art in relation to the active part played by Spaniards in political, cultural, and commercial exchange around the Mediterranean and with the Burgundian Netherlands and Northern France. Aragon saw both the highpoint and the decline of an extensive political and commercial empire resulting in polyglot works such as the altarpiece of St George at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Castile saw taste for the Islamophile ‘Mudejar’ style give way to so-called ‘Hispano-Flemish’ art such as Bartolomé Bermejo’s Saint Michael vanquishing the Devil at the National Gallery. The arrival in Iberia of increasing numbers of superbly crafted ivories, altarpieces, metalwork and tapestries from the southern Netherlands, of paintings by the likes of Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden, and of prints by Schongauer and Dürer played a key role in this process.
Giorgio Vasari: Author and Artist
Dr Anita Sganzerla
The name of Giorgio Vasari is more readily associated with his Lives of the most excellent painters, sculptors and architects, an undisputed milestone of art history. Parallel to his writings, Vasari cultivated a myriad other interests and talents, leading the illustrious intellectual Pietro Aretino to describe him as an “historian, poet, philosopher and painter.” Indeed, amongst his contemporaries Vasari was primarily known as a successful and prolific artist, whose patrons included popes, cardinals and princes, most notably Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici. Outside Florence, his commitments brought him to centres like Rome and Naples, and the high number of projects often required the coordination of a large workshop. This course will offer an integrated analysis of Vasari’s critical and artistic output. Focused reading of excerpts from the Lives will be supplemented by first-hand study of related Renaissance paintings in the National Gallery. An introduction to Vasari’s own creative process will be supported by close observation of his drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum and The Courtauld Gallery. The course will also benefit from the recent volume The Drawings of Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), which provides new insight into the working method of this entrepreneurial High Renaissance artist.
17th-century Painting in the Low Countries: The Golden Age of Dutch and Flemish Art
Dr Matthias Vollmer
This course is now FULL.
As a result of the religious and political conflicts in the sixteenth century, the Low Countries were split into two territories with different theological and social developments. In both states, the production of art was strongly determined by patrons. In Flanders, artists like Rubens and Van Dyck celebrated the Catholic Church of the Counter Reformation and the Spanish Hapsburg monarchy with grandiose themes, lively compositions, and vivid colours in portraits, altarpieces, mythological scenes and allegories. The Protestant Republic of the United Netherlands, on the other hand, was dominated mainly by austere Calvinists. Dutch painters like Rembrandt and Jan Steen conveyed moral and often religious messages through elaborate symbolism in land- and seascapes, still life compositions, allegories and scenes of daily life. This course will offer an introduction into the vibrant art and culture of the separated Low Countries in the seventeenth century. We shall visit the National Gallery, the British Museum and the Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Modern Britain: Painting, Print-Making and Patronage in the 18th Century
Dr Kate Grandjouan
During the eighteenth century, British society was radically transformed by what was, in effect, a consumer revolution. Many quintessentially modern phenomena originate in the period: mass media, seductive shops, the cult of celebrity and vibrant public spaces for the arts. As wealth increased, it reached into a new, ‘middling’ sector of society whose tastes and demands helped produce a varied and innovative visual culture. This course investigates the rich artistic legacy of the period. Ranging across painting and prints, sculpture and architecture, it charts the ambitions of individuals and institutions and explores the competitive tensions within this burgeoning art world. Major figures studied will include Lord Burlington, William Hogarth, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Horace Walpole, the Adam brothers, JMW Turner and Thomas Rowlandson. Their artistic legacies lie on the very doorstep of Somerset House, so participants will have the opportunity of studying the art at first hand, and often in the very places for which the works were initially intended. Among the locations we shall visit are the Royal Society of Arts, the Foundling Museum, Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery.
Medievalism and Modernity: Gothic Revival Art and Architecture in Britain, 1750-2000
Dr Ayla Lepine
The Gothic Revival combined medievalist historicism with a vigorous modernity, and it shaped every aspect of British architecture, from houses and wallpaper to cathedrals, colleges, train stations, museums and the Houses of Parliament. This course investigates why and how British architects, patrons, and thinkers turned to the Middle Ages to inspire new modes of imagination and pragmatism within the built environment. By focusing attention on topics including the grandeur of Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill, the Gothic collections of Thomas Gambier Parry, the theories of A. W. N. Pugin and John Ruskin, George Gilbert Scott and Giles Gilbert Scott, and the impacts of Ecclesiology and the Arts and Crafts Movement, it becomes clear that the Gothic Revival was more than a question of style. This movement was a matter of complex and nuanced debates regarding architecture, nationalism, and identity, and its legacies continue to influence architecture and design today in Britain and beyond. Visits will include All Saints church in Margaret Street, The Supreme Court and the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Strawberry Hill house and RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects).
Picasso and Matisse: Approaches to Modernism
Dr Caroline Levitt
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 the permanent collections at The Courtauld Gallery and Tate Modern, the print room at the British Museum and the Église Notre-Dame de France near Leicester Square.
Living Cities: The Photography of Urban Life in Europe and America, 1920-1989
Dr Tim Satterthwaite
A central theme of twentieth-century photography was the life of the modern city. Enabled by new camera technologies and the growth of photo-illustrated media, photographers sought to capture the social realities, and the human comedy, of urban experience in a rapidly changing world. Whilst mass modernity worked to rationalise and standardise working life and the man-made environment, photographers described a humanist resistance to this alienating process, affirming the boundless variety of individuals, their social interactions and human dilemmas. Focusing on European and American urban photography, and on the dialogue between these traditions, we will explore the construction of this humanist response, in images of street life and in the photography of marginal (disempowered) individuals. The course introduces the work of leading photographers – including Henri Cartier-Bresson, André Kertesz, Helen Levitt, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus – and their contemporaries, and considers the social and cultural contexts within which their images were made and presented. It concludes with a discussion of urban photography in Britain in the post-war decades. This course is based around the visual analysis of photographs, and includes visits to the Museum of London, the national photography collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and other exhibitions.
New Course 16:
Imagining the Mughals: Art & Politics in South Asia from the Past to the Present
Dr Mehreen Chida-Razvi and Zehra Jumabhoy
At the stroke of midnight between the 14th and 15th August 1947 the British Raj came to an end. The independent countries of India and Pakistan were born. Freedom, however, came at the price of a bloody partition, as millions of migrants crossed borders to join a ‘secular’ India or a ‘Muslim’ Pakistan.
This course coincides with 70 years of Indian and Pakistani independence. Through the analysis of the two countries’ art and culture it explores the political importance of what they shared: the Mughal past. Tracing their lineage from Ghengis Khan and Timur, the Mughal dynasty ruled over most of South Asia from 1526 to 1858. The course investigates how the Mughals ‘invented’ themselves as the subcontinent’s rulers – melding Hindu and Islamic influences to conjure multi-cultural miniatures and monuments. It explores how Indian and Pakistani artists continue to reference their gilded images and artefacts to make political statements today – probing notions of religious, communal and cosmopolitan identity in the context of competing nationalisms.
Co-taught by Dr Mehreen Chida-Razvi and Zehra Jumabhoy, experts on Mughal art and architecture and modern and contemporary South Asian art respectively, the course includes visits to London museums, galleries, private collections and an artist’s studio.