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Everyone is welcome to our art appreciation classes – no background knowledge is required, and you will have a chance to share ideas and learn more in friendly and active art classes. Our art courses range from the study of art within a particular period, movement or style, to art across continents and cultures, and themes such as war and music in art.

50 Modern Paintings 1860-1970 View details

Representing a break from traditional modes of representation, modern art manifested itself in a variety of ways from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. This course will trace a path through the major artistic trends of the modern era through fifty key works. Each week we will focus on five paintings, setting them in an artistic and wider sociological context. Artists whose work we will be studying include: Éduoard Manet, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Pablo Picasso, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, George Grosz, Wassily Kandinsky, Frida Kahlo, Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock, Richard Hamilton, Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol.

A Passion for the Palette: Women in Art View details

This course will explore the lives & works of a range of women artists from different periods and the representation of women in Art. Work by women artists will be considered within the cultural context & gender boundaries. Fully illustrated with discussion.

An Introduction to Medieval Art View details

Great riches in painting, sculpture, architecture, manuscripts and glass were produced in Europe between 1150 and 1350. Patronage was provided by church and court, often centring on objects and artifacts made for devotional purposes and displaying great delicacy and skill of manufacture. The use of gold, precious stones and intricate carving resulted in the treasures to be found, for example, in the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries of the V&A. There will be a visit to the V&A as part of the course if the students agree.

Ancient Egypt View details

The Ancient Egyptian Civilisation is probably the most fascinating ancient culture in the world. The Egyptian rooms at the British Museum always attracts huge numbers. So why does it never cease to intrigue us with its temples filled with frescoes, giant sculptures litter the country giving us clues to who those ancient people were, how they lived, how they saw the world and what was their relationship with the Gods and the afterlife? Even more so, the pyramids and the Sphinx at Giza, pose questions: why were they built and how old are they really? These are some of the questions that will try to be answered in this course so that we can examine the contribution they have made to the world we know.

Art - Appreciation: Modern Art: Impressionism to Surrealism 1870-1939 View details

This course will take the form of visual presentations and discussion of the major developments in Modern Art from around 1870 with Impressionism, through all the major developments in art up to the Second World War.

Art and Architecture of Cities - Florence and Siena View details

The course will look at the origins and development of art and architecture in Florence and Siena, exploring the impact of the Etruscan, Ancient Roman and Early Christian art. The development of Medieval art, in the work of Giotto in Florence and Duccio in Siena, together with their followers, will be examined in detail. The origins and development of the Early Renaissance in Florence will focus on artists such as Cimabue, Masaccio, Donatello, Fra Angelico, Ghiberti and Botticelli, together with the architecture of Brunelleschi and Alberti. The impact of the rise of the Medici will also examined in relation to the patronage of both art and architecture. The important presence of Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael in Florence, particularly at the beginning of the 16th century, will be explored in the development of the High Renaissance. The final section will look at the art and architecture in Florence following the restoration of the Medici as the Grand Dukes of Tuscany.

Art and Architecture of Cities - Florence and Siena View details

The course will look at the origins and development of art and architecture in Florence and Siena, exploring the impact of the Etruscan, Ancient Roman and Early Christian art. The development of Medieval art, in the work of Giotto in Florence and Duccio in Siena, together with their followers, will be examined in detail. The origins and development of the Early Renaissance in Florence will focus on artists such as Cimabue, Masaccio, Donatello, Fra Angelico, Ghiberti and Botticelli, together with the architecture of Brunelleschi and Alberti. The impact of the rise of the Medici will also examined in relation to the patronage of both art and architecture. The important presence of Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael in Florence, particularly at the beginning of the 16th century, will be explored in the development of the High Renaissance. The final section will look at the art and architecture in Florence following the restoration of the Medici as the Grand Dukes of Tuscany.

Art and Architecture of the Early Renaissance in Italy 1450-1500 View details

This course looks at the second half of the fifteenth century in Italy, a time when the revolutionary changes of the earlier part of the century were absorbed and developed. It is a period of powerful and knowledgeable patrons and the growth of scholarship. These aspects can be seen in the work of such artists as Botticelli and we will look at some of the issues associated with such famous paintings as the Birth of Venus. We will also consider his contemporaries and followers. By this time the new art had spread beyond Florence and its dependent territories. It is in this context we meet artists such as Pisanello, Pintoricchio and Mantegna. Just as painting was flourishing outside Florence so was the new architecture. In Venice painting was dominated by the Bellini family. Giovanni produced some of the most lyrical images of the age. Throughout the course we will consider some of the underlying issues and historical contexts.

Art and Architecture of the English 18th Century Part 1 View details

The early eighteenth century English art was developing rapidly and developing a style of its own. We will consider English art and architecture in 1700 and the flamboyant individualism of Vanbrugh and Hawksmoor. The great painter of the period was William Hogarth, with his modern moral subjects like Marriage a la Mode, but he also produced some remarkable portraits. Augustan classicism was reflected in a new generation of architects – Burlington, Kent and Gibbs. As well as the great names there were many who were less famous painters and we will consider them too. And sculpture also flourished in this period, and repays our attention.

Art and Music - Anniversaries and Exhibitions 2019 View details

Each session we will explore a topical subject concerning the history of the arts. It may be related to an anniversary, such as Rembrandt (died 1669) or a current London exhibition to be announced.