History of Art



This gallery-based course centres on visual constructions of Africa, from the colonial era in Europe to contemporary art from the continent. Classes will be held in the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum, Tate Modern and Tate Britain as well as various galleries across London. The course is arranged by themes chronologically starting with European colonial expansion and encounters with otherness, the African objects that travelled back to Europe and the transnational entanglements of modernism. Students will be asked to question historical conceptions of Africa. Independence swept across the continent in the 1960s. From there, we will turn to West African studio photography from this era and its legacy, the colonial archive and contemporary African artists living and working between Europe, the United States and Africa. Through close looking and group discussion, this course aims to explore the cultural specificity of the work produced and the viability of art historical methodology. Case studies will travel across the continent through the work of Pablo Picasso, Wifredo Lam, Ibrahim El Salahi, Hamidou Maiga, El Anatsui, Sokari Douglas Camp, Zarina Bhimji, Kader Attia and Omar Victor Diop amongst other artists. Painting, photography and sculpture are central to the course. Readings will address these subjects as well as the archive, cultures of display and gender.