Join us as we take you on a journey that will deepen your knowledge and understanding of contemporary visual culture. Over three days, this course will provide an overview of postmodern art in its historical and cultural context. We will look at defining artworks, the evolution of key ideas and influential artists. The course will be taught through lectures as well as some short readings and group discussions. No prior knowledge required.


Contemporary art: history and ideas

3 day course


This series of classes will provide a critical account of the visual culture of the periods of modernism and postmodernism (ca. 1850 up till the present).

This course is suitable for beginners.

Thematic in its structure, the course will explore the significance of such terms through the study of topical keywords ‘(Post)modernism’, ‘Materials’, ‘Environments’, ‘Politics’, ‘Ideas’ and ‘Others’. The course will examine the meaning of modernism and postmodernism by considering the principal media employed by artists; the spaces depicted and occupied by artworks; the political beliefs and social norms these embody; the importance attached to the individual and to expression; the shifting ideas in modern and postmodernist art; the impact of feminism and post-colonial thought on contemporary art production.

Each class will focus on selected artistic movements and artists, closely exploring artworks created during a tumultuous period in the history of mankind. The course will consider what the major characteristics of modernist and postmodernist art may be as well as engaging with the principal representative artists and theorists of this era.

A key issue will be to understand whether modernism and postmodernism actually diverge at all. Each keynote lecture will be accompanied by a brief reading to be pondered before or alongside the class. A list of general readings will follow, to be used at your discretion, for deepening your knowledge of the period and the main art historical methodologies.

Image by BurnAway (Flickr: IMG_7123.jpg) [CC-BY-2.0
(], via Wikimedia Commons