Open Arts Objects shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Awards!

The department of Art History and project lead, Dr Leah Clark, are delighted to announce that Open Arts Objects (OAO) has been shortlisted for the prestigious Times Higher Education Awards 2019, in the category ofKnowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year! (winners to be announced in November.)

Open Arts Objects (OAO) is an open access resource for the general public, which supports teachers and influences many different levels of learning with a national and international scope. It has led to a change in museums’ educational programmes and professional practice including introducing new audiences and has increased public awareness about a global approach to Art History. Underpinned by the research of members of the Art History and Design departments, OAO promotes the understanding of art informed by the innovative methodologies of mobility and global approaches. OAO ensures the sustainability of Art History at all teaching levels, advocating for the democratisation of the subject, and promotes educational opportunity.

Revisiting Modern Art and Modernism

On 29 March 2019, organisers Amy Charlesworth and Veronica Davies were thrilled to welcome over 150 delegates to the conference Revisiting Modern Art and Modernism.  Our stellar line-up included keynote lectures by Professors T.J. Clark and Briony Fer, as well as contributions from many other eminent speakers: this was really special because every single speaker has been associated with our modern art courses in some way over the last 40 years.  What was so stimulating about the day as a whole was that it offered both a celebration and a critical evaluation of what we have achieved in that time, as well as what we are doing now and plan to do in future.  Each session is presented as a separate recording, so you can dip into what interests you at any time.  Enjoy the recordings – and don’t forget the Open Arts Objects Facebook page if you have any comments!

The full programme of recordings can be found at the links below:

 

‘In conversation’ session on how OU methods and teaching materials spread to the wider world of art history education with Steve Edwards, Gail Day, Joanne Crawford & Barry Venning.

 

Chair: Amy Charlesworth

Gavin Butt: It’s Not Made by Great Men: Post-Punk and Art History

Wendy Frith: Summer School

 

Chair: Veronica Davies

Anne Wagner & Nick Levinson: ‘The Complexities of Representing Sculpture (Case study: Rodin)’

Warren Carter: ‘Utilising 21st century media (Case study: Mexican muralists)’

 

‘In conversation’ session discussing the ways OU scholarship has contributed to developments in this subject area in recent decades with  Emma Barker, Paul Wood and Warren Carter

 

 

Many thanks to the audio-visual team at the OU for recording and editing the whole event.

-Veronica Davies

OU study day in Munich

On 23 March around twenty OU students gathered in Munich for a study day and tour of the Alte Pinakothek. Tiffany McKirdy, an AL on AA100 and A105 , and Kathleen Christian, Senior Lecturer in Art History, organised the trip for Europe-based students studying on AA100 and A105. Tiffany had worked with all the participants already in her tutorial groups, while Kathleen provided the connection to Munich, having spent time there with an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship.

The event kicked off on Friday evening with greetings and a few of the beverages Munich is most famous for in the Hofbräukeller (it wasn’t yet the season to sit outside in the beer garden, but we were close!).

Friday night dinner  

On Saturday morning we met at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, an institute in the centre of Munich devoted to research in art history. The director Dr. Ulrich Pfisterer, who had been Kathleen’s host during her Humboldt fellowship, kindly offered us the use of a classroom. Being in the Institute was a special experience, since it has a fascinating history: in 1945 it was used by American forces as a ‘Central Art Collecting Point’, where works stolen during the war were collected, conserved and repatriated (think ‘Monuments Men’). Ever since the 1940s it has been a research institute devoted to art history.

The Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte 

The group in the foyer with its remarkable collection of plaster casts  

In the morning Tiffany led a lively classroom session in which the group were divided into two teams, arguing either for or against the repatriation of the Parthenon Sculptures. Tiffany gave a short introduction, reminding students of their study of Benin in AA100 and looking ahead to the study of philosopher Dr Kwame Anthony Appiah’s cosmopolitanism in Book 4 of A105. Three students had volunteered to be judges, and they also took on the responsibility of making tea and coffee for everyone while the teams devised their speeches. A representative from each team spoke for 5 – 10 minutes and after a brief deliberation by the judges, the winners were announced.

The judges make their decision 

The winners! 

After a trip to the Marienplatz, the city centre of Munich, and some time eating lunch and walking in the gorgeous sunshine, the group headed to the Alte Pinakothek, Munich’s world-famous museum of ‘Old Master’ paintings. Here Kathleen led a tour focused on about twenty of the works, including paintings by Dürer, Titian, Raphael, Leonardo, Van Dyck and Rubens.  We covered a lot of ground in an hour and a half and surveyed several centuries of art history, looking for example at the differences between Early Netherlandish and Italian works, and between painting on panel and painting on canvas.

At the Alte Pinakothek

Among the student favourites were Dürer’s famous Self Portrait, Aldorfer’s Battle of Alexander and Darius at Issus, and Boucher’s very Rococo portrait of Madame de Pompadour. Altdorfer’s large history painting, shown below, is a fascinating depiction of Alexander the Great’s defeat of the Persian King Darius, famous for its bird’s-eye perspective, dramatic landscape and teeming battlegound.

Albrecht Altdorfer, The Battle of Alexander at Issus, 1529 

Overall it was an enjoyable experience for the participants, as is seen in the positive feedback we received:

‘It gave me the feeling I am not just sitting in front of a screen, but that behind all the forums and all the messages and assessment notes there are live people who share the same goal. I felt validated as a student and human being. There was genuine interest in each other and in the subject matter of our course. The feeling of togetherness can’t be conveyed any other way than in person.’

‘The whole experience was wonderful and it has given a new dimension to my course. I feel closer to my tutor and to the other people on my course, and this means a lot to me. I enjoyed everything about the day, and I think the dinner the night before was a great part of it.

‘The hands-on approach to interpreting the paintings was a valuable addition to the course material.’

‘The visit to the museum was awesome […] It’s mind blowing how much you can see in one picture when you take a closer look and someone guides you through it.’

‘ I had a great time just talking to people. Although our ages and origins were vastly different, we could all connect which I thought was really wonderful.’

‘ I really enjoyed meeting [the group] as well as the debate and tour! I think it is wonderful that the OU shows it values its overseas students as much as its U.K ones.’

 

 

 

Revisiting Modern Art and Modernism

2019 marks 50 years since the founding of the OU and the Art History department will be offering a number of events to celebrate.

In March 2019, we’ll be hosting a conference, ‘Revisiting Modern Art & Modernism at the OU.’

Drawing on the OU’s pioneering and world-class research in this field, the courses have helped position the OU as a leader in the development of an innovative and influential curriculum for the understanding of modern art, and has led to the production of publications such as the indispensable anthology Art in Theory. The conference will explore the impact of OU art history courses and broadcast media, critically assessing how they inspired successive generations of OU undergraduate students by involving them directly in current – often closely fought – debates about modern art. This was supported by a tried and tested but evolving model of distance learning, combined with week-long summer schools in major museums and galleries.

Keynote lectures, panels and roundtable discussions with eminent scholars in the field will cover a range of connected topics:

  • the challenge posed to the Modernist paradigm: the relationship of successive courses to what became known as ‘the social history of art’ or ‘the new art history’
  • how students from a broad demographic were encouraged to challenge their own assumptions about art and art history
  • the introduction of new bodies of scholarship into an overall pedagogical model, encompassing, among others, feminist art history, postmodernism, post-colonial studies, semiotics and identity theories
  • the application of key theories to the study of modern modes of art making, such as abstraction, conceptual art, installation art and time-based media
  • the impact of OU teaching materials in the wider field of the discipline

The conference will acknowledge the importance of looking forward as well as back. It will therefore also consider the state of the discipline now, particularly within the changing landscape of Higher Education provision and the urgent need, more than ever, to engage a wider demographic with understanding modern and contemporary art.

To book, please follow the link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/revisiting-modern-art-and-modernism-tickets-52054308839

Art History matters to us…

At the OU, we teach our students to scrutinise the visual world around them, whether that’s a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, a ceramic done by an anonymous craftsmen, a local sculpture on the village green, or a building in which they live or work. Art History matters because it is everywhere; it’s the world around us!

The OU’s mission has always been to “be open to peopleplaces, methods and ideas. We promote educational opportunity and social justice … to all who wish to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.” Here in the Art History department, we take this mission seriously. This is particularly important in Art history– a discipline that is often seen as elitist and irrelevant for today’s world. We believe that art history is relevant and that as a discipline it will only be enriched by widening participation.

We give access to Art History in a number of ways: from our free open access materials on Open Arts Archive  (including Open Arts Journal and Open Arts Objects) and OpenLearn, and our co-production of BBC television series such as Civilisations, to our range of courses from BA to MA to the PhD.

Why does Art History matter to us?

It teaches us to look critically at the world around us…& to think about the things we do in our everyday lives from the buildings that we live in or work in, to the sculpture on the local village green or the graffiti on our street.

Art History matters because it is everywhere; it’s the world around us!

Watch this short film to learn about how the #arthistory department at the #openuniversity has always been dedicated to democratising the discipline.

Pearson Exam Board to offer new Art History A level exam from 2017

The recent news that the Art History A-Level is to be saved for future generations to study is very welcome for those of us who believe in providing opportunities for a broad historical and culturally sensitive education. Here at The Open University we have lobbied alongside teachers, other HEIs and the Association of Art Historians to raise awareness about the huge deficit in knowledge and creative opportunities that the dismantling of the arts and humanities subjects at school level could bring.

We are delighted that Pearson will now be offering A-Level Art History. Meanwhile we will continue to use our digital platforms (www.openartsarchive.org) to disseminate the subject to a wider public and to produce educational material, enabling more state schools to offer the provision.

One of the main ways in which we have been doing this is through our project, Open Arts Objects, a series of video podcasts exploring works of art from the Renaissance to the 21st century. Each podcast is a free resource, presented by a specialist and is accompanied by support material for lesson plans. These have been developed in close collaboration with secondary school teachers.

This is a growing resource and an open network, if you are a teacher or education specialist and would like to be involved or know more about Open Arts Objects please get in touch with us at openartsobjects@open.ac.uk

Dr Amy Charlesworth and Professor Gill Perry