Art Appreciation Two: Themes Across Art


Course Length: Full academic year (30 weeks)
This Year's ScheduleClick here to view


Aims of the Course

Dreaming Spires Art Appreciation courses are designed as introductions to the visual arts. Although they are designated Art Appreciation One and Art Appreciation Two, they do not have to be taken in a particular order.

This course, "Themes Across Art", will look at a broad range of art and artists from painting to sculpture to architecture, and how the subject area of Art Appreciation and Art History are about fun, curiosity and exploration, fulfilling ways in which to learn about the world.

In a supportive and encouraging environment we will ask questions and explore topics such as what links the Parthenon, the present day and patronage? Why are the equestrian statues of Marcus Aurelius and the San Marco horses an inspiration to a modern day bronze of a riderless horse in the green and pleasant quad of Jesus College Cambridge? And what did Delacroix see in French peasant women and the ancient statues of the Goddess Nike to give us one our the greatest and enduring images of Liberty?

Exploring these works thematically, students will see how they resonate in their own lives and will gain the power to read the visual world through a history of artistic and social connectivity that linked different ages before long before the world was mediated through communications systems.

This course explores some of the most famous works of art, sculpture and architecture through a thematic lens, rather than chronology. In our open and receptive classes, we will range over time and topics, comparing some of the most inspiring works and looking at interesting ways to read modern interpretations of age old themes. 

How It Works

We will start by collecting items of formal analysis for our "toolbox" and then, through active learning approaches, look at and compare art over time by genre and subject, form and function, historical and social context, patronage and the status of the artist, and finally, through ideas of nationality and identity.

During the course, students will feel empowered to express themselves confidently about the visual work around them using a variety of responses, from the familiar narrative tasks, to recreative and longer projects so discovering hidden talents and visual capabilities and Art History’s "exorbitant stockpiles of experience and information" (David Joselit).

Each week in the live webinar, Jenny will focus on a relevant topic. Homework will be based on personal response as well as being able to articulate and apply the tools that are being covered. Any additional reading will be supplied via a free link online.

Homework Expectations

Homework will include some set reading, watching specified research materials, and writing a response (2-3 hours per week).

How It Supports Your Child's Education

For US students, this course will attract one high school credit in fine arts; for UK students, this course would be a useful adjunct for anyone studying Art GCSE who will need to complete art research, and serve as a solid foundation for those to those who want to do A-level Art History or Fine Art in the future.


Who Teaches Themes Across Art?

Jenny Wells holds a degree in History of Art and English from the University of York, and an MA from the Open University. She home educated her children, and has been teaching History of Art and English GCSE and A Levels at an independent Oxford sixth form college for over twelve years, including being an A level examiner for History of Art. She has a special interest in teaching and encouraging students with specific learning needs.
See all courses taught by Jenny