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Introduction to Non-Western Art History

Introduction to Non-Western Art History

Central Saint Martins
Taught by
Theo Carnegy Tan


European art history is punctuated by the recurring influence of non-Western art; from the African masks that underpinned Cubism to the Chinese ornaments that populate early Impressionist paintings. Conversely, we can also find American traders in the Japanese ukiyo-e of the 19th Century, and Greek philosophers in the miniatures of Mughal India. 

Art history means history without borders, and to do justice to the breadth of the topic means examining the fruitful, troubled and fluctuating dialogue 'East and West'. This course aims to introduce the student to an expanded model of art history that treats the art of native cultures and results of colonisation as indispensable to the discipline.

Over the course we will cover
The arts of Western Africa and their intimate, living link to cultures. How did the various art practices influence a formal style in early 20th Century Europe? What are the politics of their characterisation by groups like the Expressionists?

The multi-faith arts of India and their development through various kingdoms. How did later Indian rulers seek to expand their local arts? How did rife colonialism affect the themes of artists?

The arts of China, both religious and secular, including the deeply philosophical practice of scholarly painting. How can we compare such genres with later European styles, such as Impressionism and abstraction? How did later generations reflect on their heritage during Communism?

Distinct Japanese schools of art, and how they relate to earlier Chinese practice. How did strict isolation and forceful opening to trade affect the arts? How were Japanese formal styles accessed in late 19th Century France?

Finally, colonial painting itself. How did Western artists depict the cultures of the colonies? What are the politics of sight and narrative that support a colonial history? What are some postcolonial responses to such works in the contemporary era?

European movements that we touch on include Cubism, Expressionism, Romanticism, Impressionism and the general idea of 'Primitivism'.


Who should take this course:
All levels welcome. Student, Graduates, Casual Interest


Entry requirements:
Recommended reading will be emailed out according to each lecture, and no pre-requisite material or knowledge is essential.

Please note: This course is for students aged 18 and older

Tutor Description

Theo Carnegy-Tan is an arts academic from London, and he has taught Short Courses with Central Saint Martins since 2014. Previously has given a number of talks at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, and has worked in the archives of Zaha Hadid Architects and the Mucha Foundation. His writing has been featured in Another Gaze, MAP, and The Quietus among others


Please bring to the first session:
A notebook and pen

Available dates

If no dates are showing then please Enquire about this course and we will contact you when new dates are published.