Reflections: the mirror and other reflections in art

Ref: C2421259

Mirrors are present in some fascinating works of art. Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, Velazquez’s Las Meninas and Manet’s Un Bar aux Folies-Bergères are the most well-known examples. In these, mirrors and the reflections they reveal are often enigmatic as they destabilise the work’s meaning and our position as viewers. In this course we will study the way mirrors have been introduced in pictorial compositions. With examples ranging from van Eyck and Vermeer to Manet, we will interrogate their purpose and symbolism. Introducing the concept of ‘mimesis’, we will see what the image of the mirror can reveal about our understanding of painting as an art of imitation, or ‘re-presentation’: a doubling of sort. We will also consider other reflective surfaces, such as polished objects and water. Defined by their ability to reflect light, such surfaces were of particular interest to artists like Claude Monet who wished to capture effects of light.

Course aim

This course focuses on the ways mirrors and other reflective surfaces have been used by painters throughout the years.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • Analyse works of art in which reflections are a key feature.
  • Explain the concept of ‘mimesis’ in relation to painting.
  • Discuss the diverse roles played by reflective surfaces in visual arts.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider

Download full course information sheet

Reflections: the mirror and other reflections in art

Enrolment Conditions

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 book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • 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 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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