Category Archives: Events

5 things you didn’t know about … Impressionism

Monet in Mind exhibition

To celebrate the Monet in Mind exhibition at The Ferens, on 10th June Dr Karen Serres joined the Future Ferens to discuss the exhibition, Monet’s practice and approaches to curating Monet’s Antibes. You can now view the recording of the event on The Courtauld’s YouTube channel and Karen has also written this guest blog to share some lesser-known facts about Impressionism.

The term was originally an insult.
The group of artists we now know as the Impressionists came together to show their work in Paris in 1874, after having been rejected from the annual state-sponsored exhibition where artists’ reputation had typically been made. They wanted to promote a new way of painting and rented a small studio to display their work. Critics initially dismissed it as unfinished and too sketchy, giving only the impression of things, and not a finished, accurate depiction. This is in fact what the painters sought to do, with Monet calling one of his paintings Impression, Sunrise. The artists adopted the insult as their own and organised seven more ‘Impressionist’ exhibitions over the next decade.

A simple technical innovation made the movement possible.
Up until the middle of the 19th century, artists were a bit stuck in their studios because the paints they used had to prepared right before they started to work (many artists had assistants do this, mixing ground pigments with oil to create a thick coloured paste). The invention of the small tin tube allowed oil paint to be stored without drying and squeezed out in small quantities as needed. Paint could be carried around easily, thus allowing artists to leave the studio and work out of doors. They could also use many different colours at a time.

Working out of doors could be challenging.
Painting landscapes was an important part of the Impressionists’ mission. It enabled them to study the changing light on the same feature at different times of day for example, or to render reflections on the water with their characteristic short brushstrokes. Earlier painters had made sketches in nature but finished their landscape paintings in the studio. The Impressionists most often painted theirs entirely outside; bits of sand or insects are regularly found embedded in the paint. Monet even had a small boat fitted as a studio so he could paint views of the river. He was also one of the few Impressionist painters who continued to paint outside in winter, creating beautiful snow scenes.

The Impressionists were excited to represent modern life.
In their formal training, painters were usually taught that certain themes were more worthy of being represented than others. These included religious or historical scenes (preferably from ancient Rome) and portraits of statesmen for example. The Impressionists argued that life around them was more interesting and set out to paint their surroundings and their friends, documenting the exciting developments that Paris was experiencing in the late 19th century. New cafés and places of entertainment were opening, department stores encouraged a new society of consumers, people spent more leisure time in parks, along riverbanks and on the coast, which they could reach thanks to the expanding railroad. Paris was an exciting place to be at that time, although the Impressionists also painted those exploited by this boom, such as impoverished factory and service workers.

England played an important role in the development of Impressionism.
In 1870-71, many French artists settled in London, fleeing the Franco-Prussian war that had left Paris isolated and starving. In London, they were able to start painting again and expand their networks. It was in London for example that two Impressionist painters, Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, met the French dealer that would become their champion, Paul Durand-Ruel. Thanks to him, Impressionist works were regularly exhibited in London throughout the 1870s and beyond. However, no gallery was buying these works and it wasn’t until the 1920s that Impressionism was properly represented in public collections in the UK, thanks to Samuel Courtauld’s purchases and support.

Find out more: 

You can explore the Monet in Mind exhibition, including a virtual tour on the exhibition website.

Find the recording of the Monet in Mind event on YouTube.

Book tickets to visit the exhibition on the Hull Culture and Leisure Website.

Renoir Exhibition Inspires Young Feminists

Artistic response to Renoir

The portrayal of women, and how women portray themselves, was a major theme in the Renoir and the New Era exhibition. Taking this theme as a jumping off point the curator Anna Liesching invited artist and activist Emma Campbell to run a two week reading group as part of the Reimagine, Remake, Replay initiative. RRR is National Museums NI’s youth engagement programme which aims to connect young people and museum collections in meaningful ways through creative media and the latest technologies.

Participants were provided with a selection of readings that looked at women’s freedom in public space at the time of the Impressionists, reflected on women artists and the feminist art movement. Over two online evening sessions the group discussed the readings, looking at Renoir’s a Loge and the prints by Berthe Morisot in the exhibition while making their own reflections, all facilitated by Emma. The online event lead to some insightful and personal topics of conversation, possibly more explorative than they would have been in a formal gallery environment. Many participants said the event was personally important to them, and timely, because of recent events concerning women’s space in the world. They were then asked to respond to the sessions in whichever medium they chose.

You can find the responses, including zines, blogs, poems and artworks, on the Reimagine, Remake, Replay website.

 

Radical Printmaking Online Event

Renoir and The New Era exhibition

To celebrate the new National Partners’ exhibition Renoir and the New Era, on 4th February we are collaborating with Open Courtauld Hour and Ulster Museum to bring you on online event exploring the radical potential of printmaking.

The exhibition, which includes prints by Berthe Morisot and Edouard Manet, explores the Impressionists as agitators and anarchists against the established art system. Radical Printmaking will look at the exhibition alongside contemporary works from The Courtauld’s collection and beyond.

Speakers include; Anna Liesching (Curator of Art, National Museums NI), Elaine Shemilt (Artist and Professor of Contemporary Art Practice at Duncan and Jordanstone College of Art and Design) and Nathan Crothers (Artist).

The event is free but places are limited so booking is essential. You can find out more and reserve your place on The Courtauld’s website.

A Smartify tour of Renoir and the New Era is also available to enjoy from home.

Open Courtauld Hour Returns!

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet

We are thrilled that our friends at the Research Forum have announced their online series Open Courtauld Hour is back for a series two! Here are the details and links for booking: 

This online mini-series will provide one-hour packages of pop-up talks, performances and in detail object study sessions that explore and celebrate our collection, research in art history, curation and conservation. Magnifying contemporary thinking in society through the field of art history, these episodes will platform new perspectives, new ways into art practice, looking at art and reading its history via themes that impact us all.

Week 1: From subject matter to statement, it is no secret that food and feasting have played a fundamental role in art for millennia. Eating and food preparation have taken on a new significance during this global pandemic — in the UK we have seen an overwhelming and renewed appreciation of our key food production and supermarket workers, food trends such as banana bread and dalgona coffee have taken over our social media feeds and spaces of feasting, communal eating and experiencing food and art together have been closed or disallowed in lockdown. In this session join, cook and eat with Tasha Marks (Founder of AVM Curiosities, Food Historian, Artist, Confectioner, Perfumer and Lecturer at The Arts Society), Sussan Babaie (Lecturer on the arts of Iran and Islam at The Courtauld Institute of Art), Lisette Auton (Disabled writer, activist, spoken word artist, theatre maker & creative practitioner) and Fozia Ismail (Founder & Researcher at Arawelo Eats) to dissect food and art through the ages! https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/open-courtauld-hour-the-art-of-feasting-tickets-107708334528

Week 2: With pubs being the first places to be closed, and most likely last to be opened, in the UK’s approach to tackling Covid-19, this episode begins and ends by delving into the life of London’s favourite artwork and the Courtauld’s most iconic painting, Édouard Manet’s ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergère’. Often considered a pivotal work in the depiction of modern life, this work has taken on new signification in this age of social distancing and isolation. In this session we will consider the relationship between art and social scenes — the role of the pub in arts subject matter, it’s genesis and as a site of art historical dissemination and learning. With the help of our curator Karen Serres (Curator of Paintings at the Courtauld Gallery), specialists in the field such as Matt Lodder (Senior Lecturer in Art History & Director of US Studies at University of Exeter specialising in art history in the pub and the history of tattoos as art) and Florence Ostende (Curator at the Barbican and of the show-stopping exhibition ‘Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art’) and drag artist Asifa Lahore (Presenter and Britain’s first out Muslim drag queen) we will reinstate the pub as a both a site of social interaction and creative practice, historically and now in 2020. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/open-courtauld-hour-past-orders-art-and-social-scenes-tickets-107708635428

Week 3: In this final session of the series we hand the microphone over to four familiar faces — poets, writers and performers who have previously contributed to live Open Courtauld events. Dean Atta (Author of The Black Flamingo and winner of the Stonewall Book Award), Cat Hepburn (Performance poet, Scriptwriter, Educator and Co-host of Sonnet Youth), Nadine Jassat (Author of Let Me Tell You This) and Andres Ordorica (Scotland-based Queer Latinx Writer) will each react to an artwork of their choice from The Courtauld Collection. Poetry about art has been a core element of our Open Courtauld programme — allowing new perspectives, histories and windows into artworks and art history. Join our poets in rethinking, reframing and reengaging with iconic pieces of art in our collection in this poetry special of Open Courtauld Hour! https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/open-courtauld-hour-new-takes-on-the-courtauld-collection-poetry-special-tickets-107709514056

Just Announced – Open Courtauld Hour!

Art in Isolation Poster

For those of you missing the Courtauld’s excellent event programme – or those of you that are keen to get involved from the comfort of your own home – Open Courtauld has put together a brilliant package of talks, discussions and performances as part of their Open Courtauld Hour series. This weekly event will take place from wherever you are from Thursday the 30th of April, 20.05 – 21.00. Visit the website to see the full programme and reserve your free tickets: https://courtauld.ac.uk/research/research-forum/events

Week 1 – Art in Isolation: Lockdown has been transformational in how artists, galleries and museums are adapting to an online world to continue showcasing and making art. Join Alixe Bovey (Head of Research at The Courtauld Institute of Art) on Thursday 30th of April, 20.05 – 21.00, in exploring the importance of creative practice and artistic consumption in a time of isolation.Alixe will examine this issue through discussions with Courtauld’s own Barnaby Wright (Deputy Head of The Courtauld Gallery), the National Gallery’s Caroline Campbell (Curator of Italian Paintings) and Underpinning’s Lorraine Smith (Co-founder). The hour will include a one-off poetic reinterpretation of Paul Cezanne’s ‘Montagne Sainte-Victoire with Large Pine’ by award winning poet Shagufta K Iqbal.

Week 2 – Art and Wellbeing: Over recent years, there has been a growing understanding of the power that taking part in the arts can have on health and wellbeing. In our second session on Thursday 7th of May, 20.05 – 21.00, we will investigate the supplementation of arts alongside medicine and care to foster an environment that improves the health of people — within and without a healthcare setting. Join Rebecca Chamberlain (Lecturer in Psychology at Goldsmiths University), Sir Leszek Borysiewicz (Chair of Cancer Research UK and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge), Michaela Ross (Curator, Bethlem Gallery) and Jasmine Cooray (poet and counsellor) in discussions and performances exploring access to the arts in healthcare environments, the power of ‘Slow Art’ within galleries and museums and to be engaged in learning and debate on the subject of mental and physical health and artistic practice.

Week 3 – The Future of Art: In this session on Thursday 14th of May, 20.05 – 21.00, our experts discuss the Courtauld’s ever-changing approach to the online publication of its extensive photographic collection (via the development of an ambitious digitisation project encompassing 3.3 million prints and negatives), the implementation of scientific techniques of conservation and the challenges/opportunities this pandemic may provide those working in the field. In light of the changing landscape of art history, we will be joined by Aviva Burnstock (Professor and Head of the Department of Conservation and Technology at the Courtauld Institute of Art), Theo Gordon (Sackler Postdoctoral Fellow 2019-20 at the Courtauld Institute of Art), Tom Bilson (Head of Digital Media at the Courtauld Institute of Art) and artist and poet Muneera Pilgrim.

Week 4 – Women Artists: Our fourth Open Courtauld Hour will focus on Women Artists, addressing gender imbalance in the art world, expanding on notions of public and private and reinserting women of all backgrounds back into the canon of art history. Hosting the evening will be Katy Hessel of @thegreatwomenartists — an account and podcast series which celebrates women on a daily basis. She will be joined by Jo Applin (The Courtauld Institute of Art) who will chat with Katy more about their podcast episode on Louise Bourgeois, Ketty Gottardo (Martin Halusa Curator of Drawings at the Courtauld Institute of Art) who will be virtually opening up our object study room and allowing the audience to see, close-up, a number of works by Helen Saunders and other academics and curators focusing on women artists. Stuart Hall Foundation Scholarship Jade Montserrat. Jade will be reclaiming women’s narrative through a one-off poetic take on Paul Gauguin’s Te Rerioa.

A busy half-term at Braintree’s Courtauld Exhibition

Visitor viewing Gauguin prints

Our partnership exhibition with Braintree Museum has got off to a tremendous start and last week welcomed over 200 half-term visitors to take part in activities related to the Courtauld family.

The exhibition Courtaulds: Origin, Innovation, Family looks at the history of the Courtauld family and their textile company from the founding of the first mill in 1816. Visitors can explore artefacts that illuminate the Courtauld family’s history – including a suffragette poster designed by Catherine Courtauld, from the Women’s Library, London; the remains from Augustin Courtauld’s Arctic flag from the Scott Polar Institute, alongside loans from the Courtauld Family’s Private Collection.

A highlight of the exhibition is a display of four prints by Paul Gauguin on loan from the Courtauld Gallery. The rare woodblock prints, from the Noa Noa series, were purchased by Samuel Courtauld in 1924, and depict imaginary scenes influenced by Gauguin’s time in Tahiti. By the end of the 1920s Courtauld held the most important collection of works by Gauguin in Britain, including 10 prints, five paintings and one sculpture.

There is also an opportunity to hear the memories of former employees of the Courtauld factories recorded by a fantastic group of local volunteers, alongside examples of the fabrics and clothes they produced, and archive material relating to the company.

The exhibition is open until 30th May 2020 and special events, such as curator’s tours, talks and hands-on crafts, will run regularly. Find out more on Braintree Museum’s website: https://www.braintreemuseum.co.uk/

Partner Networking Day

a person delivering a powerpoint presentation for the partners networking day

On 26th April we welcomed 18 staff members and volunteers from the Courtauld National Programme’s eight partner organisations to take part in the first of our annual networking events.

The partners from across the UK, which include The Herbert, Ulster Museum, The Harris, Braintree District Museum, Ashton College, Greenfields Heritage Site, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and The Ferens, are at the heart of the National Programme (part of the larger Courtauld Connects project) collaborating with the Courtauld Gallery on exhibitions, oral history projects, volunteer activity and workshops with schools and colleges. A key aim of the national programme is to build relationships that allow for the sharing of ideas and experiences across a variety of cultural and educational partners, and the networking days are an essential part of developing these connections.

The activities during the day were highly interactive, with a focus on developing relationships, sharing best practice and discussion around two significant strands of the programme; engaging new audiences and communities, and engaging young people aged 14-25. The workshops included input from members of the gallery, public programmes and digitisation teams at the Courtauld and presentations from partners about their experiences with the programme so far. The team at the Harris shared their approach to engaging new audiences through a café at the former Courtaulds Ltd site; Anna Liesching from Ulster Museum introduced us to innovative event programming, such as feminist Wiki-edit-a-thons; and Sarah Way spoke about volunteer recruitment and retention in the Courtauld digitisation project. We also heard about a successful pilot run by our own public programmes team with Greenfields Heritage Site to engage secondary school students with their local heritage through drawing.

Held at the new Vernon Square campus, there was also an opportunity to introduce our partners to the work of our staff and students, through a tour of the conservation facilities and Resfest. We were able to speak to and observe the work of third year Conservation of Easel Paintings students and to learn more about how the department could support the partner’s own collections through student projects. In the evening, Robert Rose, Museums Manager of Braintree District Museum, presented on the legacy of the Courtauld family in the local area to a large and diverse audience at Resfest, while other partners were able to find out more about the work of the Research Forum and get to know each other better in an informal setting.

The ideas and enthusiasm generated by the event show how important the networking aspect of the programme is and over the next four years we will offer more formal and informal opportunities for our partners to share their expertise and learn from each other.