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What is art? What is visual culture? How have they changed through history? This free course, Art and visual culture: Medieval to modern, explores the fundamental issues raised by the study of western art and visual culture over the last millennium. It moves from discussing the role of the artist and the functions of art during the medieval and Renaissance periods to considering the concept and practice of art in the era of the academies, before finally addressing the question of modern art and the impact of globalisation.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- understand the changing perceptions and definitions of art across history
- understand the relationship between ‘art’ and visual culture
- understand the global dimension of art and how it has changed over time
- understand the significance of notions of ‘function’ and ‘autonomy’ for art history
- understand the role of patronage, institutions and the wider historical context in shaping art.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Medieval to Renaissance
- 1.1 Art, visual culture and skill
- 1.2 Artists, patrons and workshops
- 2 Academy to avant-garde
- 2.1 From function to autonomy
- 2.2 From the Baroque to Romanticism
- 2.3 From patronage to the public sphere
- 3 Modernity to globalisation
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Art and visual culture: Medieval to modern
This introduction to the history of art and visual culture provides a broad overview of the major developments in western art between c.1100 and the present day. It is divided into three parts, each of which explores the concept and practice of art in a distinct historical period. The first part, ‘Medieval to Renaissance’, explores the diverse forms of art and the varied functions it fulfilled before 1600. The second part, ‘Academy to avant-garde’, explores a period in which the theory and practice of art was dominated by painting, sculpture and architecture. The final part, ‘Modernity to globalisation’, explores the period since 1850, showing how art has diversified into a wide range of forms and media.
This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Wednesday, 6th January 2016
Last updated on: Wednesday, 6th January 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
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