Sotheby's Institute of Art

1860 to Today: art History Intensive

Available dates

This course has no confirmed dates in the future. Subscribe to be notified when it is offered.

About the course

How does a work of art become an integral part of art history? This 8-week intensive course offers an introduction to the histories of Modern and contemporary art and provides a foundation in the knowledge and skills of art history.

Focusing on critical figures including Manet, Picasso, Duchamp, and Koons, as well as important styles and movements such as Cubism, Surrealism, Pop Art, and Minimalism, this course moves from charting the rise of Impressionism in modern 19th century Paris to examining the impact of globalization on art practice in the 21st century. Illuminating the fundamentals of art historical practice and scholarly research, each week’s online discussions and activities lead you through the relevant themes of a particular period while also introducing skills such as formal analysis, bibliographic research, argumentation, and application of theory.

If you have taken Impressionism to Conceptualism or Introduction to Contemporary Art with Morgan Falconer, please contact for academic advice before registering for this class.

What you will learn:

  • The key terminology used in art historical practice and scholarly research.
  • The facility to recognize and describe styles and periods in modern Western art history, from the 1860s to the present day.
  • The oral and written skills to more effectively and confidently communicate about art and artists.
  • The ability to analyze, synthesize and develop an argument on artworks and artists.
  • The tools needed to evaluate evidence from a range of scholarly sources relating to art.

Sample Topics

Week 1: Impressionism and Postimpressionism

  • Manet and Degas: The Birth of Modern Art
  • Impressionism
  • Post-Impressionism and Symbolism

Week 2: From Curves to Cubes: Art Nouveau to Cubism

  • Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau
  • Fauvism and Expressionism
  • Speed, Time and Space: Cubism and Futurism

Week 3: The Heroic Avant-Garde

  • Dada’s Protest
  • Surrealism
  • Building the New World: Constructivism and the Bauhaus
  • Focus: The Surrealist Object
  • Geometric and Kinetic

Week 4: Moderates and Extremists

  • New Classicism
  • Art for the People
  • Photojournalism
  • Focus: Art Deco

Week 5: The Post-War World

  • Art, Trauma, and Post-war Europe
  • The New York School
  • International Modern
  • Focus: Sculpture as Totem

Week 6: The Birth of Contemporary Art

  • Pop and Postmodernism
  • Minimalism and Art Beyond the Gallery
  • Conceptual Art vs. Contemporary Art

Week 7: The 1980’s

  • Painting and Heroism
  • Objects and Commodities
  • Spectacular Pictures
  • Focus: Art and Activism in the 1980s

Week 8: The Global Contemporary

  • Post-Colonialism and Globalization
  • Relational Art
  • Everyday Life

Trust the experts

Morgan Falconer

PhD, University College London; MA, Courtauld Institute of Art; BA, University of Leeds Morgan Falconer is a critic and art historian. He was educated at the University of Leeds, The Courtauld Institute, and finally at University College, London, where he completed a PhD on art and culture in Ne...


Course reviews