Introduction to art history
Time: 18:00 - 20:15
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.
What is the course about?
Art history is much more than decoding secrets and symbols, it is about critical thinking and empathy, understanding how an artwork not only reflects an artist’s interpretation of their world, but what it says to you about our world now. This course is designed to build your confidence with visual art by demystifying the myths that keep many of us from truly engaging with a work of art. It is designed for both the absolute beginner and those with some art historical knowledge who want to take their practice of art history to new depths.
We will look at a wide range of images, time periods and cultures to explore broad questions like: How is an artwork is made? What is depicted and why? And, who gets to say what it means? The overall goal is to build visual and cultural literacy that can be applied in a variety of art contexts, from the gallery and the museum to the catalogue and the computer screen.
Please note: The course is not an historical survey of periods and styles. The course covers a wide range of art historical ideas, concepts and critical frameworks without chronology.
This course does not meet on the 24th of October.
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?
• What is art history? An introduction to its central methods
• The components of an artwork: materials/processes, subject and intention
• Art criticism, language and reading an artwork
• The context of display and how it affects our understanding of an artwork.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Evaluate art more critically.
• Demonstrate an understanding of the range of contexts that impact the viewing experience.
• Participate in group discussions about art with more confidence.
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 an understanding of how to operate basics of Zoom microphone and camera.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught with lecture, slide presentations and will be invited to participate in class discussion. There will be homework in this course in the form reading art historical texts and art criticism and looking at artworks in-depth. Homework is optional, but it is highly recommended to make the most of the course subject matter and be involved in all of the course activities. If you have concerns about the readings, please get in touch before the start of the course: firstname.lastname@example.org
You will be invited to join a Google Classroom to supplement the course where documents will be shared and stored. You will receive an invitation to join this Google Classroom within a week of the course start date.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You might wish to have something to write with. 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?
Introduction to Tate Modern
A history of art in 100 objects
Ways into Islamic Art
Focus on: iconography.
Sarah Jaffray holds a BA and MA in Art History with an emphasis in 19th/20th century France and a minor in the Italian Renaissance. She holds a second MA in Cultural Theory from Goldsmiths, University of London. Sarah was a lecturer for several colleges and universities in the Los Angeles area before relocating to London in 2012. She has worked in curatorial roles at the British Museum and Wellcome Collection. In addition to her current teaching at City Lit, Sarah is a lecturer at the University of Arts London and the Tutor Coordinator for City Lit's Art History programme. Her art historical practice focuses on experimental narratives, artistic process, art pedagogy, politics and philosophy. Sarah's current research is focused on translation and empathy.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.