Showcasing Art History Evening Lecture Series 2019-20 - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Showcasing Art History Evening Lecture Series 2019-20

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Showcasing Art History

Evening Lecture Series XIV, 2019-2020


Art History Short Courses, Lectures and Tours 2020

Showcasing Art History Evening Lecture Series 2019-20

Tuesday Evening Lectures from 7 to 8 pm

Please note: bookings are closed.

Our lecture series Showcasing Art History aims to share The Courtauld’s world-renowned art-historical expertise with anyone interested in the arts and art history.  Our speakers are faculty members, Courtauld alumni and associates, and they present exciting and recent research in a lively manner suitable to a non-specialist audience.

This programme ordinarily runs on Tuesday evenings in term-time at our campus in Vernon Square, and introduces a relevant new topic each season.   Recent themes have included new perspectives on the Florentine Renaissance, and the role of the art market in the development of European Modernism.

Our upcoming summer term lectures (28 April – 26 May 2020) explore a particularly exciting and creative moment – culturally, politically and socially – in the history of the USA.  A dynamic group of specialists will focus on avant-garde art developments in 1960s and 1970s California, ranging from a particular West-Coast take on Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism, to radical installations, to a vibrant Pop art and underground film culture.

Due to the present Covid-19 outbreak and its associated restrictions, these five lectures will be delivered online. We have chosen a tried-and-tested method of teaching, which we believe will be easily accessible to anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer and access to the internet:

  • Our lecturers will produce a short video introduction of themselves, and a one-hour narrated PowerPoint presentation for each session – i.e. a PowerPoint with voice-over – which we will deliver to you in form of a YouTube video link.
  • Our popular post-lecture Q&A sessions will also continue, and will be based on your questions and comments, submitted by email to the convenor, Dr Anne Puetz, and discussed live by her with the relevant lecturer. A recording of this discussion will then be sent to you two days after each lecture.
  • You will continue to have the same access to relevant pre-course reading materials, to handouts and pdfs of the PowerPoints uploaded on our Virtual Learning Environment [VLE]

See here for a simple graphic outlining this process 

Please find a a detailed abstract and timetable of the term below:

2019-20 Programme

5 lectures, from 28 April 2020 – 26 May 2020

West Coast Stories – Aspects of Californian art in the 1960s and 1970s:
Assemblage, Abstraction, Pop and Moving Image

The summer term lectures will take us to the West Coast of the USA, and in particular to California – an artistic centre quite apart, in its self-image, its institutions and its cultural roots from the generally better-known art-scene of the East Coast.

We shall focus largely on the 1960s and 1970s, a socially and culturally creative period that saw the explosive development of a hedonistic music and counterculture based on new forms of expression and liberation.  It was, however, also a time ravaged by the divisive war in Vietnam, the suppression of free speech throughout the country and the continued struggle for civil, queer and feminist rights – the latter represented for instance in the progressive California Institute of the Arts’ [CalArts] pioneering Feminist Art Program, and embodied in the collaborative installation Womanhouse by Judy Chicago, Miriam Schapiro and others.

The art emerging from this place and time is among the most exciting produced in America during the 20th century.  Ground-breaking movements and artists emerged, building on and going beyond the characteristic patterns of art-making that were then dominant: the paintings of Sam Francis, for instance, that brought the visual language of abstract expressionism in conversation with that of the rapidly growing culture of psychedelia.  There were also the radical assemblage works of Ed and Nancy Kienholz, whose diorama-like installations presented a dark vision of life on the margins. Ed Ruscha, Peter Saul and other West Coast artists created an idiosyncratic take on Pop art, while the Light and Space movement represented a specifically Southern Californian version of Minimalism.  The Hollywood film industry, of course, loomed large over the Californian scene, and a range of experimental ‘underground’ filmmakers from Kenneth Anger to Chick Strand responded in satirical and deeply personal ways to this cultural dominance.

The summer term lectures will be delivered by Francesca Wilmott, Dr Elizabeth Buhe, and Dr Tom Day.

Click here for a timetable (PDF)

10 lectures,  14 January 2020 – 17 March 2020

Art and Society in Renaissance Florence

This series of lectures has now passed.

The art of Renaissance Florence is often held up as one of the high-water marks of western culture. In this course, we will judge the veracity of this statement, by examining the art produced in the city, its salient stylistic features and its innovations, together with the men (and occasionally women) who commissioned it. We shall begin by considering the cultural heroes that Florentines look up to and the patron saints that (they believed) looked after them. Thereafter, we will consider the narrative that Giorgio Vasari constructed to tell the story of Florentine art, before embarking on classes dedicated to the Medici family and the guilds and confraternities to which artists belonged in the fifteenth century. The remainder of the course is grouped into pairs of lectures: on patronage, both corporate and individual; on style, whether the ‘invention’ of linear perspective or the impact of classical antiquity; and on innovation, from the development of print-making to the appearance of writing on art.

This term will be delivered by Dr Scott Nethersole (6 lectures), with additional contributions by Emily Markham, Alexander Röstel, Dr Joost Joustra and Dr Geoffrey Nuttall.

Click here for a timetable (PDF)

10 lectures from 8 October 2019 to 17 December 2019 (there is no lecture in the reading week of 29 October).

Making the Modern: Collectors, exhibitions and dealers and their role in the formation of Modern European art 1863-1920

This series of lectures has now passed.

This course investigates the influential role of the art market – of collectors, dealers, curators, exhibitions and critics – in the formation of the modern European art canon.   The avant-garde artists and movements we still revere in our museums and galleries today, and write about as art historians, all depended to a greater or lesser degree on being brought to public attention via ground-breaking, – and largely commercial, – exhibitions.

Focusing on Paris, Vienna, London, Moscow and Munich, we shall examine the influence of a number of such avant-garde shows on artists and the public alike: they included the Salon des Refusés in 1863; the ‘Impressionist’ group shows of the 1870s and 80s;  ‘The Last Futurist Exhibition of Painting ‘0.10’ which displayed Malevich’s Black Square as a modernist icon; Roger Fry’s introduction of ‘Post-Impressionism’ to London in 1910 and 1912;  exhibitions by Der Blaue Reiter in Munich, and the First Russian exhibition in Berlin in 1922.  Whether championing or denigrating the avant-garde, the critical voices that arose in response to these exhibitions tell us much about then current ideas about artistic creativity and the fluctuating ‘value’ – both material and aesthetic – that was attached to works of art.

Prominent critical assessments, and above all the instincts and activities of a growing band of dealers in contemporary art, which included such influential personalities as Ambroise Vollard, Paul Durand-Ruel, and Daniel Henry-Kahnweiler, in turn affected the period’s most notable collectors.   The tastes and wallets of leading art dealers’ clients, private individuals like Sergei Shchukin, Samuel Courtauld and Paul Rosenberg, further determined what was deemed to be worthy of inclusion in the public museums and galleries of modern art in which their collections so often resulted.

Examining this nexus of relations and interests in weekly case-studies, our series draws on recent scholarship, which has challenged the longstanding separation of art history and the histories of exhibitions, curating and collecting.  Our lectures aim to contribute to a multi-faceted understanding of how artistic production was thought about, received and shaped in the period 1863-1920, before museums of contemporary art became the main spaces in which the work of living artists was represented, displayed and promoted.

This term will be delivered by Dr Natalia Murray (4 lectures), with additional individual contributions by Anne Robbins, Dr Caroline Levitt, Dr Charlotte de Mille, Dr Karen Serres, Dr Niccola Shearman and Emily Christensen.

Click here for a timetable (PDF)

Booking and Payment of Fees

Course fees are £95 and include five one-hour lectures, participation in the Q&A sessions and relevant pre-course reading materials and handouts uploaded on our Virtual Learning Environment.

If you have questions please contact us: or +44 (0)203 9477 650

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