Understanding Art: British Art in the 20th Century
"Art can make us completely human." — Herbert Read
At a Glance
- Live online course
- 1 hour a week
- Sundays 17:00 - 18:00
- 20 weeks: October to March
- Tutor: Michael Paraskos
- Fees from £110 to £205
- Imperial College Attendance Certificate (T&Cs apply)
- Book from 15 August
On this 20-week course we are going to look at British art in the twentieth century. In art historical terms that means the 'long twentieth century' from roughly 1880 to the present day, but our focus wil be on work produced between the 1910s and the 1980s, which represents one of the most exciting, innovative and diverse periods in British art history.
As well as looking at major movements in British art history, such as the Bloomsbury Group, Vorticism, the Camden Town Group and British Pop Art, we will look at the way in which British subjects and forms of art interacted with artistic ideas from mainland Europe, North America and the rest of the world, with a focus on key artists such as Vanessa Bell, Barbara Hepworth and Pauline Boty, to name but a few.
The aim of the class will be to give you a broad overview of British art history in the twentieth century, in an enlightening but enjoyable way, but also to give you insights into British art that will help you to understand the work on display at major London art galleries, such as Tate Britain and the Guildhall Art Gallery, which house significant collections of modern British art.
The class is open to all, and no previous experience of art history is necessary.
Online Access to Course
This is a taught live online course which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time on a specific day of the week. To take part in the course you will need a suitably equipped and internet-enabled device. Please find full details and instructions below under 'Course Delivery'.
Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.
The following programme is provisional and might be subject to change
Week 1: British Art Before Modernism
Week 2: The Shock of the New: The First Post-Impressionist Exhibition in London
Week 3: Glasgow - Mackintosh and the Glasgow Boys
Week 4: Early Modernism in Leeds and Manchester
Week 5: Blast!: Imagism and Vorticism
Week 6: Camden Town Realists
Week 7: British Constructivism
Week 8: British Surrealism
Week 9: Smashing Pots: Ceramic Art in Britain
*** Christmas break ***
Week 10: Émigré Artists and the School of London
Week 11: Kitchen Sink Painters
Week 12: Festival of Britain Art and Design
Week 13: The (British) Invention of Pop Art
Week 14: Avant Garde Art Schools
Week 15: Obscene and Likely to Corrupt
Week 16: British Abstract Painting in the 1960s
Week 17: The New New Sculpture
Week 18: British Feminist Art
Week 19: The Rise of Brit Art in the 1990s
Week 20: TBA
There is no requirement to undertake specific reading for this course, but if you are interested in reading more on the subject you might enjoy:
British Art Since 1900 by Frances Spalding, published by Thames and Hudson (1987)
Dr Michael Paraskos is a very experienced adult education tutor, having taught for over twenty-five years. He holds a Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and also teaches art history to undergraduate students at the City and Guilds of London Art School.
He is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction and has published very widely on art of this period, as well as reviewing exhibitions and novels for BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and The Spectator magazine. His first novel In Search of Sixpence was published in 2016 and his second, called Rabbitman, was published in 2017.
All our online courses are taught live which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you must be able to attend the online session at the time stated for the course description.
All times stated are British Standard Time.
To take part you will need a computer, or laptop, or tablet computer, connected to the Internet. The device you use will also need to have a camera, microphone and speakers. Most devices now have these built in, but if not you might have to buy them from a computer shop and to connect them to your device.
This course will use Zoom as its online delivery method. Zoom is very easy to use and you do not need to set up a Zoom account to use it. Near the date of your first online session you will be sent an email with a web address (or URL) that will allow you to access the course. This is called the Course Link. All you need do is click on the Course Link in the email and you will be asked to enter your name. This is the name that will be seen by your tutor and other students in the class.
Once you have entered your name you might be asked to enter a password to enter the class. The password will be included in the email sent to you. Once you enter the password you will either be taken directly into the class, or asked to wait in a virtual waiting room until the tutor is ready to let you into the class.
We have also produced a Handy Guide to Zoom [pdf] which gives you basic information on how to use it.
All courses lasting two hours have a 10 minute break in the middle. For one hour courses there is no break.
Course Fees and Rate Categories
|Hours||Weeks||Standard Rate||Internal Rate||Associate Rate|
|20||20|| £205 (Early Bird Rate: £185*)
||£120 (Early Bird Rate: £110*)||£160 (Early Bird Rate: £145*)|
|* The Early Bird rate is available for enrolments made before the end of 30 September for courses starting in October|
Rate Categories and Discounts
- Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.
- Applies to current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors).
- Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should email evening firstname.lastname@example.org before completing the online enrolment form.
- Students (non-Imperial College)
- Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
- City & Guilds College Association members
- Members of the Friends of Imperial College
- Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
- Friends of the South London Botanical Institute
- Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
- Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
- Harrods staff
- Historic Royal Palaces staff
- Natural History Museum staff
- Science Museum staff
- Victoria and Albert Museum staff
- Royal Geographical Society staff
- Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
- Santander Bank staff (Imperial College Walkway branch only)
- Austrian Cultural Forum staff
- Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
- Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
- Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
- Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
- Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
- Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
- Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)
It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.
Applicable terms & conditions
Please read the before enrolling on any course.
|Hours||Weeks||Autumn term||Spring term||Summer term||Summer School|
|20||20||19 Oct - 18 Dec 2020 (9 weeks)* PLUS||11 Jan - 26 Mar 2021 (11 weeks)||n/a||n/a|
|* Followed by the Christmas break|
Web enrolment starts 15 August
Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:
- Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate category must be selected on the eStore
- First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
- The booking process involves entering payment details after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
- The following email notifications are sent:
|What is sent||When is it sent||What does it contain|
|1. Payment confirmation||Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application||
|2. Enrolment confirmation||Is sent within 10 working days. Please treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received||
|3. Programme information||Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts||
|If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756
- Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the tutor, Dr Michael Paraskos at email@example.com
- Questions about your enrolment and payment should be sent to the Programme Administrator, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.