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Revisiting Modern Art and Modernism

A one-day conference on Friday 29 March 2019 at The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

2019 marks 50 years since the founding of The Open University 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 which 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 from Prof. TJ Clark and Prof. Briony Fer, panels and roundtable discussions with eminent scholars in the field, all of whom have contributed to OU courses over those 40 years, will covered a range of connected topics. These included 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 aimed to 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."

See the recording of the talks on the day.