Art Theory Introduction to Aesthetics Online Short Course
Behind every artwork there is an idea that defines it on a level above the visual. Philosophers, critics and artists have long tried to define those ideas, inspiring much discussion and creating the field known as Aesthetics. This is the field where the most fundamental questions of art are in constant debate; What is art? Is it actually important, or useful? Why makes an artwork an artwork? What is beauty, and should artworks always be beautiful? Beyond being philosophical inquiries, these are all questions that most art lovers have asked themselves, too.
Thinking about art in this way allows us to put it into a larger conceptual framework, and often leads to questions that extend well outside of art alone. Throughout this course we use the works of artists from all periods, from Ancient Greece to the present day, using their art as ways of exploring the key issues of aesthetics. Each lecture involves a set of images and certain texts that students will be asked to read before each session and discussion is encouraged throughout.
No previous experience is required but some dedication to reading and note taking is needed. This course will interest followers of philosophy, art or any critical creative practice that are keen to expand their perspectives in the world of art.
You should take this course if you want to:
- Learn about the relevance of philosophy to art
- Add new dimensions to your art analysis
- Appreciate the evolution of the concept of art across history
What will I gain from the course?
- Overview of key issues and questions of aesthetics
- Knowledge of core ideas from foundational thinkers in the field
- Practical skills in criticism and applying the ideas we study
- Feedback on your own art writing and analysis
All our Online Short Courses include:
- Live online lessons with the same tutors
- The same course content and learning outcomes
- Lesson recordings, for review
- Access to VLE with course content
- Forums for support
- 2 weeks online access
- Certificate upon completion
Further details about preparing for your online course, and the equipment you need, can be found here.
Please note that all courses are taught in UK time. To check and compare times please click here.
Online Short Course Materials
To take part in the Online sessions you will need:
- An up-to-date web browser (we recommend Firefox or Chrome)
- The latest version of Java installed on your device
- Microphone and headphones (a headset with a microphone function is recommended)
- Strong Internet connection via WiFi or ethernet; 2G, 3G or 4G will not be sufficient
Course Specific Materials
Please bring with you to the first session:
- A pen
- A notebook
If you would like to read in advance of or during the course, the following titles are a recommended reading list but please note they are not required:
- Moshe Barasch, Theories of Art 1 & 2
- Monroe Beardsley, Aesthetics from Classical Greece to Present
- Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (essay)
- Marshal McLuhan, The Medium Is the Message (essay)
- Clement Greenberg, Avant-Garde and Kitsch (essay)
- The ideas of Plato and his attitude towards the arts; why were artists excluded from his ideal republic? Can art convey genuine knowledge, or is it deceptive?
- What role does imitation play in the arts? Is it ever possible to create something entirely new?
- The enlightenment aesthetics of Winckelmann and Lessing; what makes an artwork beautiful? How should artists achieve beauty in their works?
- What are the fundamental differences between the arts, such as poetry and painting? Does one have an advantage over the other?
- What role does expression play in the arts? How has expression been defined historically?
- The modernity of Baudelaire and the Futurists; what is modern art? What does it mean to be modern, and how does an artist do it? Is it important that art is always new?
- What relationship should artists have to the past? Should we reject the art of the past, or build on it?
- The critical perspectives of Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin. What is popular culture? Why is it so often defined against fine art?
- What effect do mass production and media have on the arts? In an age of photography and printing, what importance does the ‘original’ artwork have?
- Clement Greenberg’s division between avant-garde and kitsch. Why are they opposed? What does it mean to be avant-garde?
- Is kitsch necessarily a bad thing? How have artists responded to kitsch in their work? Is the divide between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art as simple as we think?
- …And much more
Meet the Tutor:
This online short course explores the theory behind aesthetics, considering philosophical and thought-provoking concepts on the subject. This course is a great way to look at art in a new light.