Revisiting Modern Art and Modernism (Milton Keynes, 29 Mar 19)

The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK, March 29, 2019


2019 marks 50 years since the founding of the OU and for over 40 of those years, its Art History department offered a succession of courses in the history of modern art drawing on its pioneering and world-class research in this field. This helped position the OU as a leader in the development of an innovative and influential curriculum for the understanding of modern art, and led to the production of publications such as the indispensable anthology Art in Theory. The conference will explore the impact of OU art history courses and broadcast media, critically assessing how they inspired successive generations of undergraduate students by involving them directly in current – often closely fought – debates about modern art.

Keynote lectures, panels and round-table discussions with eminent scholars in the field, all of whom have contributed to OU courses over those 40 years, will cover a range of connected topics. These include the challenge posed to the Modernist paradigm; the application of key theories to the study of modern modes of art making; the introduction of new bodies of scholarship into an overall pedagogical model; how students from a broad demographic were encouraged to challenge their own assumptions about art and art history and the impact of OU teaching materials in the wider field of the discipline.

Acknowledging the importance of looking forward as well as back, we will also consider the state of the discipline now, particularly within the changing landscape of Higher Education provision and the urgent need, more than ever, to engage a wider demographic with understanding modern and contemporary art.
The outline programme with invited speakers is as follows:

09.00 Registration and coffee

09.30 Opening address Gill Perry
10.00 Opening keynote T J Clark, working title ‘Matisse, Modernity and Darkness’

10.45 Session 1 A radical textbook for art history?
'Inconversation' session on how OU methods and teaching materials spread to the widerworld of art history education
Chair: Steve Edwards
Gail Day, Joanne Crawford, BarryVenning

11.30 Coffee

11.45 Session 2 Identity: Gender & queering the discipline
Chair: Amy Charlesworth
Fionna Barber: working title ‘The Gendered Politics of a Situated Pedagogy: Summer School, the Gallery, and the Prison Compound’
Gavin Butt: (title TBC)

12.45 Lunch

13.45 Session 3 Art history on the ‘University of the Air’
Chair: Veronica Davies
Anne Wagner & Nick Levinson: ‘The Complexities of Representing Sculpture (Case study: Rodin)’
Warren Carter: ‘Utilising 21st century media (Case study: a Frida Kahlo Self-Portrait)’

14.45 Session 4 A global art history?
Chair: Emma Barker
Paul Wood, Warren Carter

15.45 Tea

16.00 Closing keynote Briony Fer (title TBC)
16.45 Closing remarks

For further information, please contact co-organisers
Amy Charlesworth
Veronica Davies

To book, please follow the link:

CONF: Revisiting Modern Art and Modernism (Milton Keynes, 29 Mar 19). In:, Feb 11, 2019 (accessed Aug 22, 2019), <>.

Contributor: Veronica Davies

Contribution published: Feb 11, 2019

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