Making Sense of Twentieth-century Art
Monday 14 – Friday 18 September 2020
Dr Caroline Levitt
Twentieth-century art has a reputation for being challenging, perplexing and contentious. This course seeks to examine the problems posed by modern art, revealing these as central to the works, rather than as obscuring their meaning. Our key focus will be the period c.1900-45, but we will also consider works from the second half of the twentieth century, thinking about the legacies that modernism leaves to postmodernism. The course does not pretend to be an overview of the many twentieth-century art movements and artists. Rather, through a number of overarching themes including beauty, skill, originality and function, we will think about the reasons for modern art’s breaks with tradition, its self-conscious meditation on everything from politics to materials and the various ways in which it has been interpreted over time.
Dr Caroline Levitt is a lecturer at The Courtauld, where she also heads the Graduate Diploma programme. She specialises in late nineteenth– and early twentieth–century French art and literature, with particular research interests in Surrealism, in relationships between text and image, and in artists working in media beyond easel painting – for example in tapestry, ceramics and stained glass. She has written various articles and contributed to books including The Art Museum (Phaidon: 2011) and Art in Time (Phaidon: 2014). Her current research project centres on artists who have owned books and drawn over them, situating this fascinating practice in the context of a broader history of the avant-garde.