Posted in Art and Artists, Research & Reflection

Modern Art Themes…

I’ve been at the Coursera again. This time “Art & Ideas: Teaching with Themes” ( The idea is to consider Modern and Contemporary art within the context of its meaning rather than by time and art movement. The themes are: “Places & Spaces”, “Art & Identity”, “Transforming Everyday objects” and “Art & Society”. The main interest lies in their coverage of the context around a number of pieces and the way that they mesh with the theme.

The following provides a good example of the flavour of the content:

“The idea that many artists use their work as a form of political response or social commentary is something that is extremely relevant for students. Images are not only a great entry point for discussing complex social and cultural issues, but a catalyst for having a much deeper dialogue about the important events of our time.” from

So, what have I learnt?

One of the areas I am still struggling to build a real understanding of is the context of art and approaching considering a work of art’s meaning and purpose. The idea of considering the theme, or themes, that a work might fit into might provide me with a useful lens for the meaning and context of a work. It has also illustrated this with a large number of examples drawn from contemporary and modern art works.

Note: The featured image is “Martha Rosler. Cleaning the Drapes, from the series House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home. 1967–72. Cut-and-pasted printed paper on board. Richard S. Zeisler Bequest (by exchange) and The Modern Women’s Fund Committee of The Museum of Modern Art. © 2012 Martha Rosler”, see


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