Introduction to art history

Course Dates: 02/10/23 - 04/12/23
Time: 14:00 - 16:00
Location: Keeley Street
Art history is much more than decoding secrets and symbols. It is about critical thinking and empathy, understanding how an artwork reflects an artist’s interpretation of their world, and what it says to you about our world now. This course is designed to build your confidence in understanding visual art of the Western tradition. It is designed for both the absolute beginner and those with some existing art historical knowledge.
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Introduction to art history
This course has finished
  • Course Code: VB947
  • Dates: 02/10/23 - 04/12/23
  • Time: 14:00 - 16:00
  • Taught: Mon, Daytime
  • Duration: 10 sessions (over 10 weeks)
  • Location: Keeley Street
  • Tutor: Thomas Balfe

Course Code: VB947

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Finished Mon, day, 02 Oct - 04 Dec '23

Duration: 10 sessions (over 10 weeks)

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What is the course about?

This course offers an introduction to the rich tradition of art making in the West from antiquity up to the present day. We will study a series of important moments in that history, exploring the factors that shaped the making and appreciation of art in particular places at particular times. We will explore, not only the meaning of artworks, but also the challenges and possibilities that artists faced when working creatively with their materials. We will also look at how visual images gradually took on an expanded range of functions, and how the status of the artist changed over time. As well as studying artworks themselves, we will look at the forms of biographical and critical writing that eventually gave rise to the modern discipline of Art History.

Topics we will cover include classical Greek sculpture, early Christian art and architecture, Renaissance and Baroque traditions, the new forms of painting that came to the fore in nineteenth-century France and Britain, and twentieth-century abstraction and conceptual art.

What will we cover?

• We will discuss different ways of interpreting and understanding artworks, in relation to factors such as historical context, the artist’s intention, and the object’s formal traits.
• We will look at how the function and value of artworks has changed over time.
• We will study some of the major examples of biographical, critical and art historical writing relating to the artistic traditions examined in the course.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Discuss some of the different approaches to interpreting artworks, giving 2 examples.
• Describe 3 ways in which the function and value of artworks has changed over time.
• Identify 2 authors whose writings have played an important role in shaping how artworks and artistic work have been understood.

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 lecture, slide presentations, and group discussions of short readings and resources. In addition to time in the City Lit classroom, this course uses a Google Classroom to share course documents. You will be sent an invitation to join the Google Classroom within a week of the start of this course.

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?

Introduction to Tate Modern
A history of art in 100 objects
Ways into Islamic Art
Focus on: iconography.

Thomas Balfe

Thomas Balfe is an art historian specialising in early modern (c.1550–c.1750) northern European easel painting and the graphic arts. His current research interests are in seventeenth-century animal, hunting, fable, and food still-life imagery, and in European visual responses to the Arctic and the Americas. His co-edited book about the written claims to lifelikeness in early modern art writing was published in 2019.

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.