Modern Art Explored

Ref: C3746316

Impressionism defied tradition in many ways but did not question a premise basic to Western art since the Renaissance – that art should recognisably depict the real world. This idea began to be sabotaged in the late nineteenth century and was usurped by the end of World War I. From Dada to abstraction, this was an era of unique innovative subversion when wildly varying tendencies emerged. Difficult though it is to define 'modern art' precisely, it is justifiable to place its birth at this time; avant-garde art that, when created, was unappreciated by the public because it challenged or abandoned traditional ideas, subjects or techniques. By the time Conceptual art arrived in the 1960s and 70s, modern art had gone through a baffling array of movements and 'isms' and continues to do so. This exploration of modern art from 1900 to 1960 will take you on a rollercoaster ride through those 'isms' and the socio-cultural conditions, methodologies and practitioners that created them.

Course aim

This ten-week course provides an opportunity to explore the major and also more obscure manifestations and developments of modern art and its rebellious practitioners from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for improvers

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

  • discuss a range of historical and contemporary socio-cultural issues and debates associated with modern art and its development, employing appropriate language and terminology
  • historically situate the origins and identify the characteristics of modern art, its range of art movements and major practitioners through the employment of suitable art terms and language
  • consider some of the theoretical debates that inform the development of modern art and its critical reception

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas will be used to provide resources or to support lessons, enable assessment, provide learner feedback and for other activities for individuals away from the course. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit:
  • 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?

  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • Writing materials will be required

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • A suggested reading list will be provided

What can I do next?

Download full course information sheet

Modern Art Explored


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 2020
  • 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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