Art History: A History of Colour in Modern Art

Ref: C2418951

At the crossroad of intuition and science, colour has played an essential role in the development of modern painting. We will study what colour is, how it works, and how it has been used by artists to achieve specific effects.

Additional information about this course

At the crossroad of intuition and science, colour played an essential role in the development of modern painting. From Turner and Monet to B. Riley and O. Eliasson, we will study what colour is, how it works, and how it has been used by artists to achieve specific effects.

Course aim

This course looks at the way colour has been considered and used by artists, with a special focus on modern art.

Who is the course for?

What topics will this course cover

We will start by addressing the cultural dimension of colour perception. We will see how colour has long been devalued and feared, particularly in Western classical thought (“chromophobia”, D. Batchelor). As it will become clear, many modern and contemporary artists have, on the other hand, considered colour as a positive value and have made it a focus of their art. What is more, colour played a crucial role in the development of modern art. Turner, Whistler, Monet, van Gogh, Kandinsky, Sonia Delaunay, Yves Klein, Gerhard Richter, Bridget Riley, and Olafur Eliasson are some of the artists that will be studied. Our investigations will mostly concern painting, although we will sometimes look at other visual arts (sculpture, design, and installation art), and literature. Following a session on pigments and a brief reminder on optics, we will engage in an in-depth exploration of colour theory and learn about colour interactions through the analysis of particular works of art. The expressive power of colour will be considered, i.e. the way chromatic compositions might affect viewers.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

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

1. Use technical vocabulary (such as complementary colours, saturation, etc.) 2. Describe the basic principles of colour theory 3. Describe and analyse the chromatic aspects of a work of art 4. Discuss colour's place in culture and its role in the development of modern painting 5. Follow-up individual interest through further research

How will I know I'm making progress?

During each session, a large place will be made for discussions and questions. Students' interests will be integrated through dialogue and feedback. Your learning record will ask you to consider how far you feel you have progressed.

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

We will do a class visit at the National Gallery

Reading and information sources

A list with reading suggestions will be provided and discussed during the first session.

What could the course lead to?

Skills and knowledge gained during this course can be used for other courses on art and cultural studies in general.

Download full course outline

Art History: A History of Colour in Modern Art Course Outline

Conditions

You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2016
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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