Modern Art & Society

In order to broaden my knowledge of art, which I have to admit is sadly lacking, I enrolled in the Museum of Modern Art’s online course, Modern Art & Society, through Coursera.

The course is actually geared towards art teachers but I found it quite helpful as it explains to the teacher what knowledge to impart to the student and how to get students to discuss their ideas and so on. I did not get into the course readings as they were quite substantial, although I did download them as some of them might come in handy in my own studies later on. I did watch all the videos and performed all the quizzes.

Some of the topics covered were:

  • Introduction to Modern Art and Ideas, teaching with themes. Interestingly the ideas put forward here was the same way that the sections in the TAOP course were laid out
  • Next up was Places and Spaces focussing on van Gogh’s Starry Night, Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie-Woogie (took me back to my reading of Johannes Itten’s The Elements of Colour), Gordon Matta-Clark’s Bingo, Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World
  • Following this was Art and Identity and the artists featured here were Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso
  • Then it was onto Art through Everyday Objects and of course Marcel Duchamp featured very prominently here. Robert Rauschenberg and his Bed, Meret Oppenheim with her fur covered tea cup and saucer (Object) and the Bic crystal ballpoint pen rounded up this section. I found this section quite fascinating. Maybe I’m drawn to the weird things out there in the world because I’m in awe of the artists’ imaginations.
  • The final section dealt with Art and Society with special focus on Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, Felix Gonzales-Torres Untitled (Perfect Lovers), Jacob Lawrence Migration Series.

It was very helpful to hear art explained succinctly from a curator’s point of view and I think this has helped me to think a little deeper into the various aspects of art that I have viewed at exhibitions since doing this course.


Museum of Modern Art. Modern Art & Ideas [online] Coursera. Available from: [12 October, 2015]


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