Painting of women dancing

News Archive 2021

The Courtauld Research Forum announces its summer digital events programme

7 May 2021

Read time: 5 min

The Courtauld Research Forum is pleased to announce its summer digital events programme. This includes Series 5 of Open Courtauld Hour, our monthly digital miniseries on all things art history, providing pop-up talks, performances and in detail object study sessions that explore and celebrate The Courtauld’s collection, research in art history, curation and conservation. Themes this series will include music, the importance of hair, and the links between our collection and theatre, dance and performance.

Open Courtauld Hour has been enjoyed by over 28,000 people to date and our upcoming monthly episodes will showcase art historical research in light of the global pandemic and provide a platform for creative practice in the age of social distancing. They also aim to provide a platform for a diverse range of both new and established voices. Open Courtauld Hour is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

In addition, other highlights of The Courtauld’s Research Forum programming will include:

  • Gay Bar: A dig beneath the disco, exploring queer identities through manufactured objects and the built environment
  • Afrotropes and Art History’s Global Imagination, interrogating the afrotrope as a site of novel intersections for scholarly inquiry.
  • The 2021 Frank Davis Memorial Series ‘Art in Quarantine: A Year On’, organised by Dr Wenny Teo, Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art at The Courtauld and focusing on the creative output of Asian artists across the globe.

Upcoming Open Courtauld Hour episodes include:

Episode 1: Musical Interludes – 13 May 2021, 8 – 9pm (BST)

From defining subject matter to influencing style, harmony, melody, rhythm, and colour in arts physical manifestation, music also promotes mindfulness in the gallery sphere. A melodic crescendo to truly heighten our appreciation of art, music can allow a deeper immersion and interpretation of The Courtauld’s collection.

In this episode, we will travel back in time and across the globe to Mughal India with Katherine Schofield (Senior Lecturer in South Asian Music and History, Department of Music at King’s College London) and revisit our musical programme at The Courtauld with Charlotte De Mille (Associate Lecturer and previous Curator of Music at The Courtauld). We will also be joined by August McGregor, Jessica Smith and Stephanie Edwards of Future Ferens (Ferens Art Gallery, Hull) to learn more on how and why music has become an essential tool to promote interactive engagement in their exhibition projects. The musical duo GAIA will also perform a one-off musical interpretation of Monet’s painting Antibes.

The event is free and open to all, but prior booking is required.

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Episode 2: Hair moments – 3 June 2021, 8 – 9pm (BST)

Hair is, undeniably, a defining feature of human identity, status and an apparatus to express and perform a sense of belonging. Hair can be chopped off, dyed and styled with the reassurance that it will (most likely) not cause much physical pain and that it will (hopefully) rejuvenate in time for the next fashion trend.

Associated in the western canon of art history with traditional notions of beauty and fertility in women — abundant, flowing and visions of sensuous and sexually alluring hair a focal point of movements like the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood — artistic representations of hair and hairstyles can also illustrate a darker side to our discipline. Embodying one type of hair as the zeitgeist of the age, the paragon and ‘beau idéal’ of female beauty, imparts the barely hidden discrimination, stigmatisation, oppression, cultural appropriation and follicular racism aggrandised through idealised ‘princess-hair’.

Join Rachael Gibson (The Hair Historian) to historicise the chignons, coiffures and cuts of The Courtauld’s collection, Serena Lee (founder of Inclusive Histories) to look into her arsenal of discoveries into hair adornment, head wrapping and headscarves within the African diaspora – with more speakers to be announced soon.

The event is free and open to all, but prior booking is required.

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Episode 3: A Night at the Theatre – 1 July 2021, 8 – 9 pm (BST),

The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on our theatres, dance companies and performers. The last Open Courtauld Hour of the season is therefore devoted to shedding a light on the creative industries that much of our collection is indebted to.

The Courtauld is custodian to a number of artworks that capture the essence of movement — works in particular by Edgar Degas and Auguste Rodin. These artists had a fascination with bodies in extreme acrobatic poses, with the subject of the dancers (either performing or at rest) coming up again and again. However, it is easy to forget the artists depicted and focus on the artist depicting. The hidden figures of the theatre, the stories of dancers themselves, are lost in many conversations around the representation of ballet in art. Behind the canvas, the coteries of ballerinas signpost the complex and contradictory lives of those who lived and breathed the theatre

Join us for a virtual ‘Night at the Theatre’ — a chance to engage with the artistry of ballet, both movement and history, through revisiting some of the paintings, drawings and sculptures of dancers in The Courtauld’s collection. Speakers include Alexandra Gerstein (McQueens Curator of Sculpture & Decorative Arts at The Courtauld), Vanessa Ewan (Senior Lecturer and Course Leader in Movement at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama), Natasha Gilmore (Artistic Director of Barrowland Ballet) and Nandi Bhebhe (Original cast member of Whiteout, Barrowland Ballet).

These events are free and open to all, but prior booking is required.

Book tickets


Highlights in The Research Forum’s events programme include:

Gay Bar: A dig beneath the disco – 22 April, 5.30 – 6.30 (BST)

Jeremy Atherton Lin explores queer identities through manufactured objects and the built environment. This lecture examines buildings drawn from his book Gay Bar: Why We Went Out to delineate the research methodologies used in such a subjective archaeology.

Afrotropes and Art History’s Global Imagination – 23 April, 2 – 7pm (BST)

Throughout the symposium, we will interrogate the afrotrope as a site of novel intersections for scholarly inquiry, in cross-disciplinary conversations driven by art historians and contemporary artists engaged with new materialisms, postcolonial and decolonial studies, as well as critical race, feminist and queer theory.

The Art Museum in Modern Times – 26 April, 7 – 8pm (BST)

How have art museums changed in the past century? Where are they headed in the future? Charles Saumarez Smith is uniquely qualified to answer these questions, having been at the helm of three major British institutions over the course of his career. Join Charles for a short presentation on his new book and its themes followed by a Q&A with Ernst Vegelin, A&F Petitgas Head of the Courtauld Gallery. There will also be time for questions from the audience.

The Frank Davis Memorial Lecture Series – 27 April – 2 June

The 2021 Frank Davis Memorial Series ‘Art in Quarantine: A Year On’ is organised by Dr Wenny Teo, Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art at The Courtauld and will focus on the creative output of Asian artists across the globe.

Fashion: Visual & Material Interconnections Book Series Launch – 21 May, 12.30 – 1.30pm (BST)

We are proud to announce the launch of a new book series – a collaboration between Bloomsbury Publishing and The Courtauld that brings together scholarly and innovative approaches to understanding the relationship between the visual and material in forming fashion and dress cultures

Post-conflict: Art History and Cultural Heritage in Dialogue – 15 June, 5 – 6.30pm (BST)

Participants include Christina Maranci (Arthur H. Dadian and Ara Oztemel Chair and Professor of Armenian art and architectural history, Tufts University); Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh (Professor of Art History, University of California, Davis); Carsten Paludan-Müller (Cambridge Heritage Research Centre); Talinn Grigor (Professor and Chair of the Art History Program, Department of Art and Art History, University of California, Davis).

Organised by Sussan Babaie – Professor in the Arts of Iran and Islam, The Courtauld

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Open Courtauld Hour is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

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