Art History: Modern British Art

Ref: C3740021

This course will examine the development of art in Britain in the 20th century, with the emphasis on how concepts of modernism have been assimilated, or indeed ignored, by British artists in this period. We will explore work by artists as varied as Stanley Spencer, Francis Bacon, David Hockney and Damien Hirst.

Additional information about this course

First and last sessions only are 2.5 hours; remaining sessions 2 hours. Half term: 28/10/2016.

Course aim

The course aims to introduce the main artists and works made in Britain from the end of the nineteenth century through to the present day with a view to gaining a greater understanding and appreciation of that work.

Who is the course for?

What topics will this course cover

The course will examine the development of British art in the 20th century. The course will cover art movements and exhibiting societies at the beginning of the century, including the St Ives painters, the New English Art Club and the artists associated with Bloomsbury. The course will cover major British realists such as Sickert and Spencer, but also concentrate on those artists more associated with the European Avant Garde, such as Epstein, Wyndham Lewis, Nevinson, Nash and Bomberg. We will also study the work of Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud and investigate the modernism of Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland. Pop art had its genesis in this country and this too will be studied. We will conclude with an examination of the YBAs, including Hirst and Emin.

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. Identify and describe works by Jacob Epstein. 2. Identify and describe works by Francis Bacon. 3. Begin to discuss the beginnings of Pop Art in Britain.

How will I know I'm making progress?

Through in class discussion, individual discussion with the tutor and through the Individual Learning Plans.

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

No experience or extra resources necessary.

Reading and information sources

None necessary, but students might like to look at British Art Since 1900 by Frances Spalding, Thames and Hudson World of Art.

What could the course lead to?

Further study with the WEA, visiting exhibitions and galleries, other courses, further general interest.

Download full course outline

Art History: Modern British Art Course Outline


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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