Course overview

Throughout the years, nature has had different places and meanings in art: from mere background to an independent genre. In this short course, we will study concrete examples from early 17th century Dutch landscape, to contemporary works of art dealing with climate change. This will include works of art as diverse as Chinese hand-scroll paintings, the paintings of flowers, Romantic landscape paintings, the Impressionist works of art, and political installations and performances. We will reflect on the way works of art reflect the way our perception of the natural environment has changed throughout the centuries.

Course description

Nature has been a source of inspiration for artists all over the world for centuries. In this short informative and entertaining course, you will learn about different ways artists have represented our natural environment, in a variety of contexts. To start with, examples from Japanese and Chinese art will be studied and contrasted with European art. We will seek to understand why, in Europe, nature was not an important subject matter in art before the 17th century (with Ruisdael and Claude Lorrain for instance). Before that time, nature was often present as a background to portraits and narratives, or was relegated to botanical illustrations. After this introduction, we will focus on the depiction of natural sceneries in paintings and examine different movements or styles: Romanticism and symbolism, as well as naturalism. Many 19th century painters placed nature at the very heart of their creative endeavour: Constable, Turner, Friedrich, Corot, Monet, and van Gogh will be among the painters studied. Landscape painting will be an obvious source of examples, but we will look at other art forms such as ceramics. As we enter the 20th century, we will direct our attention towards contemporary art. We will look into Land Art, with iconic works like Smithson’s “Spiral Jetty”. And, of course, in a world impacted by climate change, we will consider contemporary artists who have placed nature and an ecological consciousness at the heart of their artistic practice, such as Olafur Elias

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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