Saturday Lecture: Shocking - A History of Art Scandals

Ref: C2422706

With an open mind and a critical spirit, we will look at some emblematic art scandals, from Veronese’s Wedding at Cana (1563) and Caravaggio’s Death of the Virgin (1605-6), to Serra’s Tilted Arc (1981) and Emin’s My Bed (1998). By studying the works in their context, we will reflect on what caused these controversies, what norms were transgressed, who felt offended and why, and what were the consequences. We will see how transgression and shock progressively became a familiar part of the artistic experinece. We will wonder whether or not such controversies have a positive purpose.

Course aim

Coming back on some notorious art scandals from Caravaggio to Warhol, we will study why some works of art have offended viewers and what the consequences were.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Recount the history of some notorious art scandals
  • Describe the different moments in a scandal, from the transgression to the shocked response
  • Discuss whether art controversies are a positive force in the art world or not

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Saturday Lecture: Shocking - A History of Art Scandals


This course is funded by the Greater London Combined Authority but is also open to residents of other areas.

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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