LSA Lectures: Modern Art & its Critics

LSA Lectures: Modern Art & its Critics

Term 3: Summer, 19 Apr - 21 Jun 2021
Price per person £150

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Term 3: 10 Weeks - £150


Monday, 7:00pm – 9:00pm



Term 3: Summer

19 Apr - 21 Jun 2021

Course Staff

Today, our reactions to iconic works by the likes of Manet, Degas, Whistler and Sargent couldn’t be any further from their initial public reception. This lecture series will explore the scandals caused by new artistic styles in the 19th and early 20th century, looking closely at the artworks in question and the harsh criticism they provoked.

The evolution of modern art in France and Britain will be studied through its contemporary reception, often revealing more about the cultural values of the audience than the work itself. From the Victorian critics who sought morality and feared the French influence, to the formalist theories of Roger Fry and Clive Bell, art criticism struggled to keep up with rapidly changing approaches to painting. It was forced to undergo a reinvention of its own, as the shocking gradually became the celebrated. 

  • Wk 1. Introduction: The role of the art critic 

  • Wk 2. Confronting Realism: Courbet and Manet  

  • Wk 3. Defending morality: Ruskin and the pre-Raphaelites 

  • Wk 4. Art for art’s sake: The Ruskin-Whistler trial 

  • Wk 5. Just an impression:  Mixed reviews of the first Impressionist exhibition

  • Wk 6. The corrupting French influence:  Impressionists in Britain  

  • Wk 7. Day drinking: Degas’ l’Absinthe 

  • Wk 8. Celebrity scandal: Sargent’s Madame X  

  • Wk 9. Decadence and the New Woman: Aubrey Beardsley and the Yellow Book 

  • Wk 10. Introducing Formalism: Roger Fry and Clive Bell