What is the course about?
This course explores the important role played by costume and fashion in the creation of personal and public identity, both male and female. Exploring European art since the Renaissance we will decode and decipher the messages and meanings intended through the choices made by artists and sitters about dress. A portrait is rarely just a portrait, it is a window onto a world, the requirement of the court artist, for example, from Hans Holbein to Annie Liebovitz has always been to convey power, status and to inform us about court etiquette. It is through costume that these messages can be conveyed most clearly.
Costume is also carefully employed by painters in other subject matter, in religious commissions and in mythological subjects by artists as diverse as Hans Memling and Titian as a way to help the viewer identify both individual figures and their place within the narrative.
We will also study changes across time, in the availability of pigments, materials and dyes. The Industrial Revolution revolutionised not just means of production, but the advent of mass production brought new choices in fashion to those lower down the social strata. In more recent times, choice of costume or of fashion designer, continues to be significant, the slogan on a t-shirt worn by a famous sitter in a portrait photograph is as powerful today as the crown worn by a monarch in a coronation portrait of the past.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
• Individual works of art across 500 years of European painting
• Fashions from different periods and how to date a portrait through the costume worn by the sitter
• How to place paintings within a broad social, political and economic context
• Key individual portrait painters and photographers.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Understand the significance of costume and fashion in art
• Give at least 3 examples of significant costume as depicted by leading portrait painters from different centuries
• Identify how choices in costume change as a result of broader moments of change such as developments in international trade in the 17th century and technological advances in the 19th century.
• Discuss key features of costume design across time giving and be able to explain the importance of at least two examples.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is suitable for all levels.
You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught online with slide presentations and group discussions. Handouts will be provided by your tutor to support your learning on the course; these handouts will be available online/digitally for download, not printed out for you.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You might wish to purchase a notebook for taking notes. You might wish to buy some of the books on any reading list given out in class.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You might also be interested in:
VB43: - Art and Culture in 17th Century London.