Insights Into Art History - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Insights Into Art History

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Insights Into Art History

Young People's Workshops


Insights into Art History is a series of FREE one-day workshops especially designed for 16-18 year olds to explore a wide variety of themes responding to The Courtauld Gallery collection. Each day has an exciting focus and a new subject to discover!

For any queries please contact Helen Higgins

This programme is funded by a Charitable Trust and is open to young people who attend non-selective state schools and colleges, whose parents or carers have not previously gone to university, and/or who currently receive Income Support or Tax Credits.

Insights Into Art History 
Colour: From Medieval to Contemporary

Tuesday 19 February 2019, 10.45am – 4.30pm


Free art history workshop! Suitable for Year 10 and above 

MORNING – visit The Courtauld (Somerset House) & the National Gallery

Learn: about the science behind how we perceive and conceptualise colour. Join a university seminar-style session to trace important developments in how paints are made and the discoveries that led to a brighter palette. Hear about some unusual ingredients, from bugs and berries to dangerous chemicals.

Discover: some of the National Gallery’s masterpieces by artists known for their spectacular handling of colour. Tour the Medieval and Renaissance rooms to see how artists like Jacopo di Cione and Titian used the most expensive pigments available in order to breathe new life into ancient and biblical stories.

Explore: the social and cultural significance of colour. Consider what it meant to wear certain colours and what they could symbolise. Place paintings in context and understand why colour has sometimes been a controversial topic in the history of art.

AFTERNOON – visit Tate Modern (lunch and travel provided)

Learn: how the substance of colour changed in the mid-twentieth century with the inventions of new kinds of paints and artistic technologies.

Discover: Tate’s magnificent collection of Mark Rothko’s Four Seasons paintings and how this pioneer of colour field painting exemplifies the revolutionary effect of the new acrylic paints on abstract and pop artists in New York City.

Explore: how a younger generation of twentieth-century artists responded to colour, such as Ellsworth Kelly, Bridget Riley and Peter Sedgley, and see how they further experimented with perception and a broad range of technologies, including lights, to create new visual experiences.


Jacopo di Cione and workshop, The San Pier Maggiore Altarpiece, 1370-71. Egg tempera on wood. National Gallery, London (detail)
Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne, 1520-3. Oil on canvas. National Gallery, London (detail)
Mark Rothko, Light Red Over Black, 1957. Oil on canvas. Tate Modern, London (detail) © Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/DACS 2018

Previous Workshops

Insights Into Art History
Art, Architecture: Women and Power

Saturday 19 January 2019, 10.45am – 4.30pm
in collaboration with the Queen’s House, Royal Museum’s Greenwich

Free art history and practical workshop! Suitable for Year 10 and above

Go behind the scenes and explore the rich architectural history of Somerset House with Courtauld art historian Francesca Herrick.

Take a free boat trip along the Thames and uncover the connections between Somerset House and the Queen’s House, Greenwich!

Collaborate with curators from the Queen’s House, Greenwich to find out how three powerful women forged their identities through art and architecture.

Discover the real face of Queen Elizabeth I through Mat Collishaw’s contemporary installation The Mask of Youth which responds to the iconic Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I (1590) in a very 21st century way. We will analyse the portrait’s use of political propaganda and the extent to which female power is tied to concepts of youth and beauty.

Develop your visual analysis skills through a closer look at key works in the Queen’s House collection and work with artist Raksha Patel to experiment with new drawing techniques!

Left: The Courtauld Gallery and Courtauld Institute of Art at Somerset House, London
Middle: Amran, 2018. Courtesy of Bettina von Zwehl. Commissioned by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Right: The Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, circa 1590, courtesy National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Autumn Effect at Argenteuil

Impressionism: Theory and Practice

Suitable for students in Year 10 and upwards

Tuesday 23 October 2018, 10:45 – 16:00

What is ‘Impressionism’? Collaborate with a Courtauld art historian to define ‘Impressionism’, challenge ‘isms’, and learn more about the artists involved in radically breaking the boundaries of modern art.

• Visit the remarkable Courtauld Impressionists exhibition at the National Gallery and develop your visual analysis skills with Courtauld art historian Helen Higgins

• Discover new experimental painting techniques exploring colour and form ‘en plein air’ with a contemporary artist.

• Create your own contemporary responses!

Van Gogh: Self Portraiture and Identity

Suitable for students in Year 10 and upwards

Thursday 25 October 2018, 10:45 – 16:00

• Discover the real story behind Van Gogh’s world famous Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear!

• Collaborate with a Courtauld curator, artist and art historian to explore the fascinating history of self-portraiture and identity

• Find out more about Van Gogh’s bold use of colour and sophisticated mark making

• Create your own self-portrait in just one day!

Study Skills Workshops

Our free Study Skills workshops are especially designed for 16-18 year olds who have attended previous Insights into Art History workshops and/or our Art History Summer University. Each workshop aims to develop research and study skills and offers an insight into a previously unexplored area of The Courtauld Insitute of Art.

You will:

  • Work with a specialist Art Historian to explore our archive and library collections
  • Take part in a behind the scenes tour of the Witt Library Collection
  • Uncover rare and unseen photographic material and carry out primary research
  • Hone your critical reading, primary research and presentation skills

Please note, priority will be given to students who are able to attend all four workshops

Research and Presentation Skills  

Wednesday 10 October 2018, 16.30 – 19.00

Suitable for students in Year 11 and upwards who have attended previous Insights into Art History workshops and/or our Art History Summer University.

Dr Katie Faulkner and Helen Higgins

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