You can prepare for this free course, Making sense of art history, by looking around you. It's likely that wherever you are you'll be able to see some images. It's also likely that many of these will be intended to have some sort of effect on you. In the course itself you will be exploring the power of images via a study of contemporary art from the 1980s onwards. Taking the time to look beyond the immediate appearance of an art work to consider what the artist might be trying to say can be immensely rewarding.
Course learning outcomes
After studying this course, you should be able to:
identify the effects of art works
understand a range of artistic techniques, such as the use of colour, composition and medium
recognise the relationship between effects and techniques in a range of art works
understand some of the factors involved in interpreting meaning
understand the significance of context in informing the interpretation of art works.
You can start this course right now without signing-up. Click on any of the course content sections below to start at any point in this course.
If you want to be able to track your progress, earn a free Statement of Participation, and access all course quizzes and activities, sign-up.
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 conditions377 and our FAQs378.
Full copyright details can be found in the Acknowledgements section of each week.
For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.
Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University.
The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now.
Take a look at all Open University courses.
If you are new to University-level study,
we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an
Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on
Where to take your learning next for more information.