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Critical Theory in Contemporary Art Practice

Critical Theory in Contemporary Art Practice

Chelsea College of Arts
Taught by
Sophia Kosmaoglou


Join Critical Theory in Contemporary Art Practice and through lectures, seminars, tutorials and gallery visits, familiarise yourself with key concepts and historical transformations underpinning 20th Century art production and reception.

You will extend and develop your ability to discuss, write about and judge contemporary art. You will look at the impact on contemporary art practice of feminism, post-colonialism, philosophy, psychoanalysis and political theory and examine art practice from different theoretical perspectives and critical debates in the field. You will be supported in identifying thematics and practices that are relevant to your studio practice and assisted in contextualising your work.

Students will be expected to do some reading and research in their own time.
What kind of knowledge and skills do contemporary artists need? What is the relationship between art and entertainment? How do we recognise art? These are just some of the questions we will address as you explore and examine the historical and critical context in which contemporary art is made, circulated, seen and understood.

Topics Covered 

  • What is the critical role of art? 
  • The Critical Function of Art 
  • Politics and the Institution of Art
  • Gallery Visit
  • Spectacle and the Everyday
  • Writing Workshop
  • The Abject, Identity and Process
  • Participation, Dialogue and the Gift Economy
Course Outcomes
You'll be able to critically discuss and evaluate contemporary art in terms of its production and exhibition. You'll be able to place your studio practice in context.

Who Should Attend

This course is designed to provide creatives with an encompassing introduction to key theoretical discourses that underpin the production and interpretation of art.  It provides a platform for students to develop and articulate their own ideas on art production, exhibition and reception. It may suit those wishing to apply for a postgraduate degree in art or to pursue a career in the arts sector.

Course Level 

Online short courses

Did you know we offer a similar course online? UAL online short courses are designed to help creative people master new challenges, develop their skills, get inspired by new ideas and access the UAL learning experience without having to travel to a campus for class.

Art, Ethics and Social Change (Online Short Course)

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Tutor Description

Sophia Kosmaoglou is an artist, tutor, curator and founder of [ART&CRITIQUE], an alternative art education network based in London. Her work employs a broad range of practices including sculpture, installation, video, painting, performance, sound, site-specificity, collaboration and participation to address identity, convention, authority and rationalism. Her current practice blurs the boundaries between art, activism and education to question the ontology of art and its social and institutional functions. She has a practice-based PhD in Fine Art from Goldsmiths and her research interests include institutional critique and the relationship between art and politics, institutions and independent organisations and collective practices. Her PhD thesis is a critical reassessment of institutional critique and of the value of autonomy in art practice. She has previously taught Critical Studies and Studio Practice on BA Fine Art Practice and Joint Honours courses at Goldsmiths. She is a member of Exploding Cinema, Deptford Cinema and The Field New Cross.

View Sophia's website


Please bring the following materials with you on the first day:

  • Notebook and Pen

  • Money for travel and exhibition entry

  • Computer, laptop or ipad and internet access for homework activities

  • Examples of your work in portable or digital form

  • A USB stick

Please note that most materials needed for the short courses are available at the Chelsea College of Arts' Art Shop. Please contact the Art Shop directly for opening hours and availability.

Available dates

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