Online course: Making Sense of Twentieth-Century Art - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Making Sense of Twentieth-Century Art

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Making Sense of Twentieth-century Art


Spring and Autumn Courses Online Courses

Making Sense of Twentieth-Century Art

Making Sense of…

Making Sense of Twentieth-century Art

Dr Caroline Levitt

Delivered online

Monday 13 – Friday 17 September 2021



A statue of a Cupid set amongst apples and canvases

Paul Cézanne, Still life with Plaster Cupid, c.1894, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) © The Courtauld

Course Description

Twentieth-century art has a reputation for being challenging, perplexing and contentious. This course seeks to examine the problems posed by modern art, revealing these as central to the works, rather than as obscuring their meaning. Our key focus will be the period c.1900 to 1945, but we shall also consider works from the second half of the twentieth century, thinking about the legacies that modernism leaves to postmodernism. The course does not pretend to be an overview of the many twentieth-century art movements and artists. Rather, through a number of overarching themes including beauty, skill, originality and function, we shall think about the reasons for modern art’s breaks with tradition, its self-conscious meditation on everything from politics to materials and the various ways in which it has been interpreted over time.


Lecturer’s Biography

Dr Caroline Levitt is a lecturer at The Courtauld, where she also heads the Graduate Diploma programme. She specialises in late nineteenth– and early twentieth–century French art and literature, with particular research interests in Surrealism, in relationships between text and image, and in artists working in media beyond easel painting – for example in tapestry, ceramics and stained glass. She has written various articles and contributed to books including The Art Museum (Phaidon: 2011) and Art in Time (Phaidon: 2014). Her current research project centres on artists who have owned books and drawn over them, situating this fascinating practice in the context of a broader history of the avant-garde.

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