Course overview

Secrets, lies, love, death, politics, spirituality, vanity – all these and more are represented in paintings, sometimes obviously, often obscurely. We’ll decode the hidden meanings in some much-loved and lesser-known works from the Renaissance onwards. Learn about the devices and conventions that painters have used throughout the centuries, allowing a flat unchanging picture to carry complex and changing story lines, emotions, political messages, human weaknesses and failings, strengths and virtues. The paintings will be grouped under headings such as Morality, Politics, Home Life, Adventures, Tales and Fables, Mythology, Modern Life, Portraits, Propaganda and others

Course description

How can a painting tell a story?

Works of art often tell stories. Artists can present narrative in many ways—by using a series of images representing moments in a story, or by selecting a central moment to stand for the whole story. Narrative works often illustrate well-known historical, religious, legendary, or mythic stories.

Before the 20th century, art works, were usually based on a story. As a broad summary, modern art – a heading which can be applied to most art of the 20th century – has long abandoned the incorporation of stories into works of art. Instead, we have the artists’ self-expression, a very vague concept with which most people find it difficult to engage.

How often have you heard people say about a modern work of art – “What on earth is that all about?”

Of course, we can appreciate art works on purely visual features, but this course is based on the belief that generally people enjoy more art works based on stories and messages. Such art works are often linked with music - such as operas and ballets – and where appropriate, music clips will be included.

What financial support is available?

We don't want anything to stand in your way when it comes to bringing Adult learning within reach so if you need anything to support you to achieve your goals then speak to one of our education experts during your enrolment journey. Most of our courses are government funded but if you don't qualify or need alternative financial help to access them then let us know.

What other support is available?

All of our digital content, teaching and learning activities and assessments are designed to be accessible so if you need any additional support you can discuss this with the education experts during your enrolment journey and we will do all we can to make sure you have optimal access.

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