Art History - An Introduction


  • Adults (Part-time)


Course Content

Art History: An Introduction

Art plays a central role in our perception of the world and our place within it. Over the course of history, the idea of art and its value has evolved alongside social, political and technological change. Today art creates much-needed space for reflection and analysis of the past and present. Art can provide access to perspectives and experiences that rarely present themselves in everyday life. Throughout history, art has been the source of passionate exclamations, deep-rooted anxiety, rebellion, conformity and outright apathy!

During this 10-week course we will explore the development of art in Europe from the 1450s to present, focussing on France, Britain with reference to movements in North America. We will consider the Italian Renaissance, the Baroque, Romanticism, the advent of photography, Impressionism, Cubism, Dada and Surrealism. The course will consider the emergence of the YBAs in the 1990s and the impact of the art market in shaping our contemporary notion of the great artist. It will provide an introduction to contemporary practice, including performance and moving image, focussing on pioneering artworks that transformed the very meaning of art.

This introductory course provides an insight into some of the most definitive moments in art history in Europe. No prior knowledge of art history is required and group conversation is encouraged. Each session is structured as a presentation on the week’s subject, followed by open discussion. In the final week, we will visit an exhibition of your choosing. The content of the course follows a loose chronological timeline, however subject matter can be tailored as particular interests emerge.

Art History: An Introduction is shaped upon the premise that the story of art is available to everyone. The course looks to explore humanity, society and politics through the lens of visual art. It aims to inspire debate and intrigue, create an open forum for engagement with art and instil confidence in participants to go out and enjoy art for themselves.

Week 1 -   Introduction to the Course
Week 2 -   Italian Renaissance, 1400s-1500s
Week 3 -   The Baroque, 1600s
Week 4 -   Art, Exploration and Collecting in Britain, 1700s
Week 5 -   Romanticism to Impressionism, 1800s
Week 6 -   The Emergence of Modernism, early 1900s
Week 7 -   Postmodernism and the New Avant-Garde, mid to late 1900s
Week 8 -   The YBAS and the art market, late 1980s to 1990s
Week 9 -   Art and Technology in the 21st century
Week 10 - Final week! Exhibition visit

About the tutor:
Ellie Porter is an arts professional with a background in art history and curating. She has a Masters degree in Art History from the University of Sussex, and wide-ranging experience of the public and commercial art sector including; the V&A’s Fashion & Textiles Department, Sotheby’s Modern and Impressionist Department, Peggy Guggenheim Collection (Venice) and Art Fund. In her current position as Curator of an arts charity, she helps contemporary artists create archives and legacy strategies that preserve a life’s work.
Ellie delivers a public programme of talks and panel discussions around contemporary visual art in the UK, and in 2018 co-wrote the first free mobile app for archiving art.
Ellie has run workshops on collections at the Peggy Guggenheim in Venice and has led workshops on archives and contemporary art at Art360 Foundation. In addition, Ellie has also previously worked as a History of Art tutor for A-Level students.

For further information call 020 7258 7253 or email


What are the expected employment areas with this course?

Creative Arts

Entry Requirements

Suitable for everyone, no previous experience required.