Archive of 2019 Courses
Please note: the 2020 Programme will be available to view from early December. Precise details will follow nearer the time.
The Social Lives of Greek and Roman Art
Dr Niamh Bhalla
Greek, Hellenistic and Roman art have all too often been studied through the lens of later aesthetic theories and cultural tastes. This course will begin by considering critically conventional approaches to ancient art, most especially those influenced by the stylistic schemata of Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-68).
Moving away from evaluating Greek and Roman art stylistically through the lens of Renaissance and Neo-Classical ideals, we shall instead seek to place ancient art in its concrete socio-historical settings. We shall ask who made these works and for what purpose. We shall consider such issues as the construction of identity through art, ideologies embedded in ruler portraits and its function, the role of the viewer in the construction of meaning, and the problems posed by ‘provincial’ art to traditional art-historical classifications.
A good deal of our time will be spent in the British Museum directly interacting with the exceptional works of classical art housed there. By the end of this course participants will be able to recognise and identify key monuments and representative works of art from ancient Greece and Rome. Students will also be able to place these works within their social and cultural contexts and engage critically with them, recognising potential problems of approach in their study.
Merchants of Luxury and Patrons of Art: Lucca at the Dawn of the Renaissance
Dr Geoffrey Nuttall
For over 200 years, merchants from the small Tuscan city of Lucca dominated the production and sale of sumptuous silks and phenomenally expensive gold and silver brocades. These clothed the palaces, churches and courts of Europe and can still be admired in innumerable paintings and manuscript illuminations, perhaps most famously in the Wilton Diptych in London’s National Gallery. Exceptionally well-informed and cosmopolitan patrons, they commissioned some of the most famous yet enigmatic masterpieces of the early Renaissance, including Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Double Portrait, Jacopo della Quercia’s Tomb of Ilaria del Carretto, and The Boucicaut Master’s Trenta Missal.
This course focuses on these and other great works of the period associated with Lucca and its merchant colonies across Europe. It explores connections between the business and art of silk manufacture and purveying, and the Lucchese’s influential role as agents of artistic and cultural exchange across Europe, notably at the courts of France, Burgundy and England. Visits will include the National Gallery, the Victoria & Albert Museum and The Tower of London.
N.B. Dr Nuttall will explore the arts and culture of the Lucchese silk merchants in situ during a study tour running from 7 – 9 May 2019
Michelangelo: Art and Life in the European Context
Professor James Hall
Long before Vasari hailed Michelangelo in his Lives of the Artists as the greatest artist who ever lived, he had become an almost mythical figure, and Michelangelo himself took every opportunity to contribute to the stock of self-aggrandising stories. The purpose of this course is to look beyond the myths, and to see Michelangelo afresh in the context of his times, looking at the particular ways in which he drew on as well as departed from the art traditions of Florence and Rome, and of northern Europe. We shall also see how he responded to, as well as rejected, cultural, religious and political developments, and the demands of patrons. The major paintings and sculptures will be discussed in the lectures, and the wealth of material in public collections examined at close quarters in the gallery tours. Visits will be made to The British Museum print room and the Royal Library to see Michelangelo’s drawings; the Victoria & Albert Museum to see the superb plaster casts of his sculptures; the National Gallery to see two early panel paintings, and the Royal Academy to see the Taddei Tondo. We shall also consider Michelangelo’s influence on later art.
Collecting has always represented a mark of distinction for Italian elites. From the late sixteenth century onwards, the desire to possess art works, no matter how modest in quality and price, also spread to less exalted social groups. Such increasing demand for art complicated the relationship between patrons and artists and fostered the creation of an art market in the modern sense. This course focuses on the development of a burgeoning Italian art market, and its repercussions, by analysing prominent case-studies. Isabella d’Este’s acquisition strategies will highlight the role played by astute merchants and trusted agents in the early sixteenth century. The cardinals Ferdinando de’ Medici and Scipione Borghese will introduce us to the rules of the Roman market for antiquities between the sixteenth and the seventeenth century, while the thorny issue of value for money will be considered in the light of Annibale Carracci’s, Guido Reni’s and Domenichino’s marketing strategies. Finally, the British King Charles I’s acquisition of the Gonzaga collection in the late 1620s will allow us to investigate the phenomenon of the sale in bulk of significant Italian collections. Visits will include the National Gallery, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the British Museum.
Cosmopolitan Britain: Painting, Print Culture and Patronage in the Eighteenth Century
Dr Kate Grandjouan
Eighteenth-century Britain witnessed an extraordinary efflorescence of the visual arts, fuelled by a consumer revolution and the emergence of a ‘middling’ sector of society, whose tastes and demands helped produce a varied and innovative visual culture. By the 1780s, average attendance at the annual Royal Academy exhibition had reached 48,000 visitors, and the Academy was only of the many new venues now being devoted to the exhibition of contemporary art. London’s art industries and new patrons encouraged large numbers of highly-skilled foreign artists to settle in the capital. With this heady mix of art and money, national ambition and imperial expansion in mind, the course will investigate what was distinctive about British art in the period. We shall emphasize artistic networks and cross-cultural dialogues and, above all, the dynamic relationship between paint and print. Among the individuals discussed will be Verrio, Thornhill and Hogarth; Reynolds and Gainsborough; Rowlandson, Gillray, Liotard, Zoffany, West and Copley. With an abundance of nearby collections of historic importance at our disposal, participants will have the opportunity of studying eighteenth-century art at first hand, and sometimes in the very places for which it was intended. A final choice for the course visits will be made in the spring of 2019.
Dreams and Nightmares: Symbolism in an International Context, 1878-1910
Dr Rachel Sloan
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 made by the French poet Jean Moréas, it was long 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 collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Britain, and the National Gallery to discuss works in detail.
Making it New: Modernism in the Early 20th Century
Dr Richard Cork
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 Tate Modern, the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art and the Imperial War Museum.
New Course 8:
Change-Makers: Contemporary Art in Britain and its Institutions
Dr Tim Satterthwaite
In the decades since the founding of the ICA as a post-war ‘workshop’ for radical artists, London’s galleries, art colleges and institutes have played an ever increasing role, both in the promotion of contemporary art and in its creation. The notorious Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1997 expressed the creativity of young British artists, but also reflected the formative influence of Goldsmiths College, and the cultural prestige and commercial acumen of the Saatchi Collection. This course tells the story of British contemporary art through the institutions that shaped this development. In a series of lectures and gallery visits, Change-makers will explore the work of leading contemporary artists, the creative role of individual museums, galleries and art schools, and the cultural impact of annual events such as the Turner Prize and the Frieze art fair.
Each day we shall focus on a different institution, exploring key movements and landmark events, and then visit a relevant current exhibition, archive, or artist’s studio. The course will offer a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the arts establishment, with the opportunity to meet curators, artists, and gallery directors, and to explore the creative achievements and controversies of British contemporary art.