What is the course about?
In this one-day course we explore the life and work of James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). An American artist in London, he was a leading proponent of the idea of "art for art's sake". He signed his paintings with stylized monogram of a butterfly with a long stinger for a tail – as much a symbol of his love of Japanese art as his assertive and sometimes combative nature. Having lived and worked with the Paris avant-garde he settled in London in 1859 having created a distinctive post-impressionist style at a time when many of his British cotemporaries had yet to come to terms with Impressionism. Inspired, influential, and infuriating, his art was full of subtle delicacy, he had a wide social network of friends and family and yet, if crossed could be a formidable opponent. Whistler influenced the art world and the broader culture of his time through his artistic theories and his cross-channel friendships with leading artists and writers. His ideas and work encompass painting, printmaking, writing, curation and the decorative arts.
What will we cover?
• Whistler’s career and his engagement with the French and British avant-garde
• Key paintings and the development of his style
• The art world in which Whistler worked: artistic and social networks, patrons and societies
• The 10 o’clock Lecture, "art for art's sake", and Whistler’s aesthetic influence on his contemporaries
• The libel suit against John Ruskin and its aftermath
• The Peacock Room
• Whistler as a printmaker.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Give three examples of Whistler’s influence on his contemporaries and the artists that came after him
• Discuss the influence of Asian art on his style, giving examples
• Discuss Whistler’s commitment to "art for art's sake" examples of works that demonstrate this.
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 with slide presentations and group discussions.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You might wish to bring a notebook. 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:
VB242 - The influence of Japan on Western art in the 19th century.