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Join art historian Sophie Lachowsky as she presents a brand-new course on the history of influential art and artists throughout the ages, including Titans of the Renaissance, Philip Guston, Kim Lim, the women of Gee Bend and many others.

About the course

Week 1: Size matters - American Abstract Expressionists respond to a world in turmoil

After the devastation of WWII, a group of artists began to question how their works could still be meaningful in a world so profoundly transformed.

They drew their inspirations from the rituals of native American culture, cartoon imagery, European Old Masters, Surrealism, and Mexican muralists, to reimagine life and the human condition through colours, gestures, and monumental scales. 

Their experiences of Judaism, personal traumas, and social injustice profoundly informed the practices of Philip Guston, Lee Krasner, Barnet Newman, Louise Nevelson, and Mark Rothko. They created a visual language that bridged the personal and the political, the abstract and the figurative, the playful and the tragic.

Talk to coincide with the show Philip Guston, 5 Oct 2023 – 25 Feb 2024 at the Tate Modern

Week 2: Hard stones and soft power - The rivalrous age of Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Titans of the Renaissance and the Baroque period strived to outdo the masters of Antiquity and their living competitors. Their representations of human forms turned to the past, to celebrate the present and shape the future.

As with Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael before him, Bernini moved effortlessly between paintings, sculpture, and architecture. 

This constant creative rivalry amongst the liberal arts, offered fertile grounds for seeking the attention of influential patrons in the Italian city states. 

As grand artistic projects were commissioned and funded by the papal court, powerful rulers, and the wealthy, the social and economic history of the period is intertwined with its cultural and artistic achievements.

Week 3: Weaving innovations and political entanglements

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Feliciano Centurión, El Anatsui, Sheila Hicks, Chiharu Shiota, and The Woman of Gee’s Bend redefined the boundaries of the sculptural medium by using ropes, wires, and threads.

Addressing issues of gender, sexuality, colonialism, migration, and the transmission of traditional knowledge, fibre artists have embraced the plasticity and transformative potential of textiles as forces of resistance and healing to narrate their personal history and reimagining the world.

Talk to coincide with Unravel: The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art, 14 Feb —26 May 2024 at the Barbican

Week 4: Towards the resolution of space - Kim Lim’s exploration of light and movement

More than 25 years after her death, the legacy of Kim Lim engages with critical contemporary issues and expands the story of art.

The Singaporean-British sculptor and printmaker should have been a significant player in the post-war artistic landscape. Yet she shared the same uphill battles of luminaries such as Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, Dorothy Dehner, and Isamu Noguchi, who were sidelined because of bigotry and prejudice. 
Inspired by the natural world and global cultures, Lim’s unique body of work is indebted to her minimalist approach to modernism and abstraction. 

Drawing on her Southeast Asia heritage and her profound understanding of Western art, her explorations of ideas, media, and materials, revealed a transcultural perspective that heralded changes into the cosmopolitan society we live in today.

Talk to coincide with Kim Lim: Space, Rhythm & Light, 25 November 2023 – 2 June 2024 at the Hepworth Wakefield. 

Week 5: Photographing sculpture, sculpting photography

Auguste Rodin, Constantin Brancusi, Henry Moore, and Valentine Schlegel took abundant pictures of their own works or collaborated with famous photographers to experience with two and three dimensions and reveal the light, and textures of their spatial compositions.

Considered “the architect’s photographers”, Lucien Hervé and Helene Binet have captured historic and contemporary buildings, with the eye of an artist.

Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, and their peers, have turned to Binet to interpret their work, whilst Hervé’s lifelong career will forever be associated with Le Corbusier.

These eloquent photographs not only document, but also shape our perception of forms and materials, acting as an essential complement to their creative possibilities.

Week 6: Expression in Blue

Founded by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, Der Blaue Reiter was a short- lived but intense group of international artists who experimented with emotional use of colours and distortions of forms.
Along with Die Brucke, led by Ernst Ludwig, this movement laid the foundation for Expressionism in Germany and radical new approaches in Europe.

Expressionism is also a story of friendships told through the dramatic figures of Marianne Werefkin, the experimental photographs of Gabriele Münter, Alexander Sacharoff’s freestyle performance, and the dark moods of Fritz Lang’s cinematography.  

Deemed degenerate by Nazi ideology, avant garde artists were branded as enemies of racial purity and cultural ideals.

This condemnation paradoxically increased their importance and visibility. After 1945, the Expressionists’ modes of representation were highly influential on Kasimir Malevich’s Suprematism, the geometric aesthetic of Piet Mondrian and the Abstract Expressionists.

Talk to coincide with Expressionists: Kandinsky, Münter and The Blue Rider, 25 Apr – 20 Oct 2024 at the Tate Modern.

Sophie Lachowsky

Sophie is an art historian, lecturer and writer with experience in the culture and heritage sectors.
After an international legal career, she graduated from the Courtauld Institute with an MA in History of Art, with a focus on post World War II abstraction.

She has given talks at Kenwood House, and the Courtauld Gallery, and bespoke guided tours, of the Wallace Collection and the outdoor contemporary sculpture trail, Sculpture in the City. She writes on modern and contemporary art, including contributing to the Woman’s Art Journal, and is a trustee of The Showroom, a non-profit contemporary art space, in London.

Sophie is enthusiastic about creating a unique cultural experience that appeals to a diverse and multigenerational audience. She strongly believes in the power of art, to shape our thinking.

NB: This series will take place both in the building and online. To watch online, click the "Book Now" button on this page. To attend in person, click the button below.

book to attend in person

Please note

This series will take place both in the building and online. To watch online, click the "Book Now" button on this page. To attend in person, click the button below.

A Zoom link to join this series will be included in the confirmation email upon booking.

There will be no class on 15 February. 

A booking fee of £2 will be added to all orders.

Dates - -

£15 per session or £84 for the course

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