This Course is Expired

Learning to Look at Modern Art

This course will aim to provide guidelines about how to understand and appreciate Modern Art better and how to discover continuity between the art of earlier periods and our own.
University of Oxford University Offices Wellington Square Oxford ,OX1 2JD United Kingdom
(4418) 65270000

Course at a Glance

Mode of learning : Online - Instructor Lead(LVC)

Domain / Subject : Arts & Design

Function : General

Trainer name : Mr Gordon Reavley

Starts on : 22nd Sep 2014

Duration : 10 Weeks

Difficulty : Advanced

About the course

This course will seek to provide guidelines about how to look at modern art, from 1900 to the present day, in an open-minded, critical and analytical way. We shall aim to provide answers to some of the questions most commonly asked about Modern Art of both the earlier and later periods. Why does it appear so different from the art of the past? How should we approach it? What were the changing ideas, which were intended to alter our view of what a work of art could be? Why is craftsmanship apparently a thing of the past? And what are the main issues to be considered in contemporary art?

We shall try to understand why Modern Art happened and some of the cultural, philosophical and historical reasons for it. We shall become more familiar with concepts like Collage and Installation, and discuss why divisions between painting, sculpture, architecture and design have become blurred, making many works hard to categorise. We shall also see that some artists have continued with traditional subject matter, techniques and methods, thus making continuity between art of the past and our own time.

Course aims

By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • show you understand what to look for in Modern Art
  • use the vocabulary or language of looking at Modern Art

And you will have developed the following:

  • the ability to be an active and questioning spectators
  • critical and analytical skills in relation to Modern Art

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Course eligibility

Course Requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.

Recommended reading

To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following paperback book: 

  • Acton, Mary, Learning to look at Modern Art(London & New York, Routledge, 2004) ISBN 0415238129
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Course Content

The areas you will cover in this course are:

  • Introduction to Learning Look at Modern Art and Picasso
  • Modernism
  • The Dynamic View
  • Duchamp and conceptual art
  • Expressionism and Self Expression
  • New Concepts of Composition
  • Space and Form
  • Light and Colour
  • Traditional subjects
  • Epilogue and conclusion


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