After Impressionism: European Art From Van Gogh to Klimt

The details
Art History and Theory
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
18 May 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA V3R9 Art History with Modern Languages,
BA VR3B Art History with Modern Languages (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad)

Module description

This module will explore diverse responses by individual artists working at the end of the nineteenth century to the legacy of Impressionism as the quintessential art of modern life. We shall focus on the expressive inventions of van Gogh, the colonialist impulses of Gauguin, the colour theories of Seurat, and the analytical constructions of Cézanne. We will spend time studying the sculpture of Auguste Rodin, who redefined the modern body.

Out of this fragmented scene emerged the wild beasts of Fauvism, the 'movement' that established Matisse. But this new phenomenon was superseded almost immediately by the even more radical tendency of Braque and Picasso's Cubism, arguably the defining creative moment of modernism.

We will end by looking at the Vienna Secession and the highly stylised and enigmatic paintings of Gustav Klimt, as well as the iconic works of Edvard Munch. We will attempt to discover what it really meant to be 'modern' in turn-of-the century Europe and how artists responded to the dramatic political, social and technological changes that we call modernization.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

1. to explore issues related to some of the main developments in European art of the late 19th and early 20th centuries;
2. to introduce students to works of this period (as far as possible, in the original) and to the comparative study of modernist phenomena;
3. to introduce students to specialised debates in past and recent literature around the interpretation of European art of this period;
4. to raise student awareness of different methods of approaching the discipline through analysis of chosen texts;
5. to stimulate students to develop skills in communication through assignments and seminars.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module the student should have:

1. a good understanding of the material covered and know some of the key works of the period;
2. a greater appreciation of works related to this subject and period;
3. some insight into the different methods of art-historical investigation that have been explored with reference to European art of this period;
4. some experience in textual analysis relevant to works and theoretical debates from this period;
5. an ability to discuss European art of this period and demonstrate all these competences through assessments and seminars;

By the end of the module, students should also have acquired a set of transferable skills, and in particular be able to:

1. define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant;
2. seek and organise the most relevant discussions and sources of information;
3. process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments;
4. compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure;
5. write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications;
6. be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them;
7. think 'laterally' and creatively (i.e., to explore interesting connections and possibilities, and to present these clearly rather than as vague hunches);
8. maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position based on feedback;
9. think critically and constructively.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

There will be a two-hour combined lecture and seminar each week. All teaching events will be accessible to students on and off campus either face-to-face or remotely through online teaching. Week 8 is Reading Week.


  • Hayward, Philip; Arts Council of England. (1998) Picture this: media representations of visual art & artists, Luton: University of Luton Press.
  • Gauguin, Paul. (1924) Noa Noa, Paris: G. Crès et cie.
  • Matthew Simms. (1999) 'Cézanne's Unfinish', in RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics: The University of Chicago Press. (36) , pp.226-242
  • Harrison, Charles; Wood, Paul; Gaiger, Jason. (1998) Art in theory, 1815-1900: an anthology of changing ideas, Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Steinberg, Leo. (1972) Other criteria: confrontations with twentieth-century art, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Chipp, Herschel Browning; Selz, Peter; Taylor, Joshua Charles. (c1968) Theories of modern art: a source book by artists and critics, Berkeley: University of California Press. vol. California studies in the history of art
  • Gemma Blackshaw. (2007) 'The Pathological Body: Modernist Strategising in Egon Schiele's Self-Portraiture', in Oxford Art Journal: Oxford University Press. vol. 30 (3) , pp.379-401
  • Solomon-Godeau, Abigail. (1989) 'Going native', in Art in America. vol. 77 (7) , pp.118-129
  • Matisse, Henri; Flam, Jack D. (c1995) Matisse on art, Berkeley: University of California Press. vol. The documents of twentieth century art
  • Poggi, Christine. (1988-24) 'Frames of Reference: "Table" and "Tableau" in Picasso's Collages and Constructions', in Art Journal. vol. 47 (4) , pp.311-
  • Nochlin, Linda. (1966) Impressionism and post-impressionism, 1874-1904: sources and documents, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   2000 word essay     40% 
Coursework   Quizzes TOTAL    30% 
Coursework   AUTUMN 24hr take home exam    30% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Natasha Ruiz-Gomez, email:
Dr Natasha Ruiz-Gomez



External examiner

Prof Richard Simon Clay
Newcastle University
Professor of Digital Cultures
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Art History and Theory

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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