Young People

Not sure what to do this summeR?

Friday, 18 July, 2014 by education

How about check out our top exhibitions in London for Summer 2014. Between stints on the beach of course!

Art and Life: Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis, William Staite Murray, 1920-31, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Tue Jul 1 – Sun Sep 21

British Folk Art, Tate Britain, Mon Jun 30 – Sun Sep 7

Marina Abramović: 512 Hours, Serpentine Gallery, Thu Jul 3 – Sun Aug 24

Colour, The National Gallery, Mon Jun 30 – Sun Sep 7

Edward Thomasson, Chisenhale Gallery, Thu Jul 3 – Sun Aug 24

Radical Geometry: Modern Art of South America from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, Royal Academy, Sat Jul 5 – Sun Sep 28

Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision, National Portrait Gallery, Thu Jul 10 – Sun Oct 26

Kazimir Malevich, Tate Modern, Wed Jul 16 – Sun Oct 26

And don’t forget to visit us at The Courtauld Gallery too!

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Liz Libor, NCN History of Art Course Leader reflects on a day of Art History in Nottingham!

Monday, 14 July, 2014 by education

The intention:  To raise awareness of art history as a discipline and encourage students to consider applying for the subject at degree level

The locations: New College Nottingham (NCN): An FE college in the centre of the historic Lace Market area and Creative Quarter of Nottingham that offers History of Art A Level and has a widening participation partnership with the Courtauld Institute. Nottingham Contemporary: A new and cutting edge gallery with generous and flexible exhibition space, currently hosting the Arts Council touring exhibition: “Somewhat Abstract”.

The organisers and deliverers: The Courtauld Insitute of Art’s Oak Foundation Young People’s Co-ordinator Meghan Goodeve & Alice Odin and Gallery Educator Helen Higgins, and Dr Lucy Bradnock from the University of Nottingham.

The Schools: NCN, Redhill Academy, and South Wold Academy


We were excited and apprehensive in equal measure: would the students materialise in sufficient numbers to make the event a success for The Courtauld and University of Nottingham staff who had kindly given their time and effort to make this event happen?  If students did come, would they enjoy the experience and enhance their understanding and interest in art history? Would lunch appear on time? In the end it all went swimmingly – which all goes to prove that it’s better to be a Tigger than an Eyore, as all things tend to turn out well in the end.  Around 50 students and 4 staff attended plus the 3 Courtauld staff members and Dr Lucy Bradnock from the University of Nottingham.

A variety of short talks and student activities kept a lively pace throughout the day and time just flew past.  All the students were eager to participate and contributed freely to both open discussions and group activities. Their responses were excellent with mature, thought provoking and original ideas being generated. Perhaps a highlight of the morning session based in the lecture hall of the historic Adams Building at NCN was the curatorial group activity of planning and creating a gallery space to display a self-selected theme from a choice of images from The Courtauld Gallery’s collection. The results were diverse and imaginative, ranging from a focus on sophisticated themes through to actual 3D models of the envisaged gallery space and another focused on thoughts as to the use of lighting and positioning of works that promised an installation work in its own right!




Suddenly it was lunchtime and NCN provided a generous spread of sandwiches and fresh fruit, so generous that there was still plenty left over at the end – even with a room full of hungry teenagers!  After lunch  the whole group walked the short distance down the road to Nottingham Contemporary, moving from the imposing brick and stone grandeur of Adams to the geometric, cantilevered, utilitarian exterior of the gallery that has been nicknamed by some locals  ‘the chicken shed’. Appearances, as we all know can be deceptive and once inside the gallery space students were excited by the size and diverse contents of the current exhibition that ranges through 4 large interconnected spaces.  The day continued with activities centred on experiencing works of art face-to-face and evaluating curatorial decisions.  The current exhibition Somewhat Abstract displays a wide diversity of art works across all mediums and drawn from a chronological range from early 20th century to contemporary; some easily recognisable: a Francis Bacon Screaming Pope “Head VI”, a Barbara Hepworth abstract sculpture, several Bridget Riley, Frank Auerbachs & Walter Sickerts, a Rachael Whiteread; others less familiar and equally intriguing – something for everyone and everyone found something that excited them. So much so that students were reluctant to leave when the final summary and feedback session were delivered in the cavernous and atmospheric setting of Nottingham Contemporary’s The Space.


By the end of the day all participants appeared tired but also content. Feedback from students revealed that they felt it had all been worthwhile and that they had gained a valuable insight into the challenges, attractions, skill sets and employability offered by art history, while the teachers of the participating schools were very enthusiastic and declared that they would be eager to take part in any future activities. The Courtauld team and Lucy looked exhausted, but they were very positive and felt that their efforts had been well rewarded by the enthusiasm and quality of responses from the students – so well done all and a special thanks to Meghan, Alice, Helen and Lucy for making such a herculean effort to organise and deliver the event -  bravo and y’all come back real soon!

(Photos: AP Smith Pictures

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Manet’s Bar

Monday, 30 June, 2014 by education

We just wanted to highlight this brilliant video with Educator Fran Herrick discussing Edouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère:

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Ashton visits the courtauld

Tuesday, 17 June, 2014 by education

We were so happy to welcome Ashton Sixth Form College to the gallery yesterday! This visit is part of a larger partnership with The Courtauld’s widening participation Art History Beyond London and Ashton’s Raising Aspiration programme.  The day was spent researching and presenting on The Courtauld Gallery’s collection. Brilliant!


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Friday, 16 May, 2014 by education

I spy with my little eye… The Courtauld Gallery’s painting Allegorical Portrait of Sir John Luttrell, 1550, by Hans Eworth in a Warburg panel!

Last year some of our young people made an animation all about this painting. Watch it herewarburg

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zine alert!

Tuesday, 6 May, 2014 by education

As part of our Animating Art History project, the students made these amazing zines about their research and their own photography. We love them so much we wanted to share them with you!

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We would love to see you in Nottingham this June!

Thursday, 24 April, 2014 by education

Art History Beyond London FINAL

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Art history: it’s just a timeline?

Tuesday, 15 April, 2014 by education

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Before the Easter break, we took a trip up to New College Nottingham to think about ‘modernism’. What a scary word! Using Alfred Barr’s infamous diagram as a starting point, we considered timelines of ‘modernism’ across the 20th Century. More importantly, we wondered what is missing from these canons and how we can challenge accepted histories!


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Exhibition review: Richard Hamilton at Tate

Tuesday, 8 April, 2014 by education

Student Ambassador Naomi Graham reveals her thoughts on Tate Modern’s current exhibition about Richard Hamilton…

Throughout his 60 year career, Richard Hamilton (1922-2011) was always one step ahead of the times. Heralded as one of the founding figures of pop art, his attachment to changing culture has made him one of the most significant artists of the 20th century. Tate Modern’s new retrospective is simply titled Richard Hamilton, marking an exhibition that attempts to include all, tackling all the themes and facets of Hamilton’s work. And that is no small task.

Very much a Jack of all media (in the best possible sense), the Tate show celebrates Hamilton’s engagement with everything from oil and watercolour, magazine cut-ups, exhibition design and installation to screenprints and photography. This experimentation was informed by his early involvement with the Independent Group, who also included the likes of Eduardo Paolozzi, Nigel Henderson, Lawrence Alloway and architects Alison and Peter Smithson. The Group met at the Institute of Contemporary Arts between 1952 and 1955 and it was here that Hamilton first introduced mass culture into debates about high art.

As with other blockbuster retrospectives at Tate dealing with long careers, such as the Roy Lichtenstein this time last year, the curation takes a loosely chronological approach. Given that Hamilton’s way of working often moved from one thing to another quite rapidly, the exhibition almost themes itself. At first, specific years are tied neatly together with themes but by the second half the room concepts are broader, reflecting longer periods of time and overarching ideas.

The first room comes as a bit of a surprise, feeling sparse and sterile. There are no gallery labels (shock horror) but it soon becomes clear that this is the recreation of an exhibition curated by Hamilton rather than Tate. With its papier-mâché grids and Ladderax domestic shelving filled with an eclectic mix of bones and shells (some genuine, some created), On Growth and Form from 1951 blurs the lines between art and science and is the first mark of Hamilton’s fascination with the multidisciplinary.

The recreation of the seminal 1956 exhibition This is Tomorrow signals to the Swinging Sixties (or Swingeing Sixties as he called them in a Duchamp-esque pun) before they’ve even happened. Arguably the exhibition reconstructions are the most interesting and effective aspect of the show. They serve to contextualise Hamilton’s work in its original gallery setting (something we often attempt as art historians) while simultaneously highlighting the decontextualisation of the artworks from their original time. For example, the jukebox that blurts out peppy 50s pop music was a part of the everyday in 1956 but for us is one of the ultimate symbols of ‘retro’ and kitsch.

Just what is it that makes today’s home so different, so appealing?, 1956 (Source: Wikipaintings)

As art historians, we are often concerned with pivotal moments: artworks that mark a break from the past or form the catalyst for a new movement or way of working. The original collage of Just what is it that makes today’s home so different, so appealing?, 1956, is too fragile and faded to be featured in the exhibition but has been substituted by a digital print. It is believed to be one of the first pieces of pop art, irreverently bringing together evidence of the modern-day ‘everyday’. In it, an updated Adam and Eve are situated incongruously in a domestic interior made up of various magazine and advertisement cuttings. It is vapid and superficial, just like his time.

In the pop period Hamilton challenged ideas about photography being a ‘true’ reflection of life with images that unpicked the fantasy of celebrity and advertising. As Naomi Klein highlights in her 1999 book No Logo, advertisements do not sell products but lifestyles; they represent the desires and aspirations of a particular age. Collage, with its play on two-dimensionality and three-dimensionality, further enhances ideas of touch and desire. The changing aspirations of the second half of the twentieth century are reduced by Hamilton into a series of commodities. These objects, within the interiors, mark the changing desires of society across the decades.

These methods of appropriating everyday objects and presenting them as high art strongly recall the work of Marcel Duchamp, who greatly influenced Hamilton throughout his career. He had much to do with the cataloguing and installation of The Almost Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp at the Tate in 1966 and was granted permission by Duchamp to make a reconstruction of his Large Glass for the show, as it was too fragile to travel from Philadelphia. The retrospective makes a point of their similarities, especially in their use of mechanical processes.

In the 1970s, Hamilton turned to more scatological themes and Hamilton plays with contrasts in his Flower Piece paintings, which juxtapose ‘glamour and shit’ and, he claims, are an updated memento mori. By the 1980s, Hamilton’s political motivations were channelled somewhat explicitly through his artwork. The reconstruction of Treatment Room, an installation for an Arts Council group exhibition in 1984, is perhaps the most chilling of Hamilton’s works on display.

The installation marks Hamilton’s perception of the shift in British culture after the post-war optimism and hope for a better future was never realised. The cold and clinical interior is a complete reversal of that from Just what is it that makes today’s home so interesting, so appealing? and is a stark contrast to the classical interior that forms the backdrop of Margaret Thatcher’s 1983 Conservative Election Broadcast, which plays on the monitor above the bed. Although some may criticise these works as lacking subtlety, in many ways the can be seen as a natural extension from the brashness of the advertisements Hamilton used in his early collages.

Always hypersensitive to changing times, Hamilton did not shy away from the digital age, fully embracing digital photography and photo manipulation in his later work. In his 1994 show for the Anthony d’Offay Gallery he used computer programmes to paste photographs he had taken of his Oxfordshire home onto images he had of the bare gallery interior.

Now moving towards digital collage, the image is manipulated to appear as if the painting is already hanging. When printed onto canvas and displayed in the Anthony d’Offay Gallery, the viewer would get a double view of the space and its surrounding architecture. Some of this is lost in its display at Tate but the idea of the interior within the interior within the interior still plays out quite well. It also doesn’t stop us making other links between his works. In The Annunciation, 2005, the seated woman speaking on a cordless telephone is perhaps a playful nod to the woman on the (corded) telephone in Just what is it from 1956. Like Duchamp, Hamilton wanted to ‘knock his own ideas out the window’.

Overall, this exhibition allows the viewer to successfully trace the full diversity of Hamilton’s work. You see where ideas came from, how they developed and where they ended up. You move through the times with him, following his dry, sometimes sarcastic, comments on the way things were, are and will be.

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Digital art history?!

Tuesday, 1 April, 2014 by education

Today we welcomed students from New College Swindon to The Courtauld for a days workshop on the theme ‘Digital Art History?’. Over the next couple of weeks they will be making Pinterest boards on their chosen artworks from the gallery. But for now, they have summed up today’s research with the ‘tweets’ below. See our live twitter page for some of them too!

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The artist Cranach sometimes signs his paintings with a winged serpent #sneakyCranach

manet bar

Not only a commodity but a vendor of ‘love’ #Manet #deepthinker


‘I like women best when they don’t know how to read’ #Renoir’stype



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