History of Art



This gallery-based course on British art from the ninetieth and twentieth centuries (encompassing painting, photography, architecture and murals) will consider how ideologies are imagined and actively produced through images. We will examine the seismic shifts that took place across the socio-political landscape in Britain during and after industrialisation, and the artistic and architectural responses to, and attempts to alter these shifts. Beginning with the Pre-Raphaelites, we will critically examine the construction of the urban landscape through and against the pastoral idyll. This investigation will form the foundation of an examination of twentieth century art, with a focus on the city as a site of contestation. As well as looking at artistic responses to, and critiques of, both World Wars, we will consider artistic and architectural attempts to shape the post-war consensus after World War II. In addition, against the context of the nation’s Imperial legacy, we will think about and challenge notions of “Britishness” by engaging with artists who put pressure on the concept of “post-colonialism”. This investigation of diaspora artists will intersect with, and complicate, a study of artworks that contest - or reproduce - class and gender hierarchies. Through an exploration of national identity, space and place(making), and the dialogue between institutional and site-specific modes of display and their variant publics, this course aims to develop the student’s critical reading and visual literacy skills. Teaching will take place in a number of galleries including, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the Imperial War Museum and the Jo Spence Memorial Library.