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Selected Artists of the 20th Century (1900-1970)

Course Times & Enrolment

Mondays from 13th January 2020 (Code AA228-202) Mondays from
13th January 2020 11:10am - 1:00pm • (10 classes)
LG48 Paterson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Andrew Paterson MSc BFA PhD
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

A course examining the complexities of 20th-century art by focusing on the aims and methods of specific individuals. We focus on one or two artists each week, highlighting the originality of their creative processes, and identifying the significance of their contributions to modern art. See also follow-on course: Selected Artists of the 20th and 21st centuries (1960-today).

Please note, this course includes a field trip (a visit to a local gallery).

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No previous knowledge required.

Content of Course

Each session will focus either on a single artist or a pair of related artists. The choice of artists will vary from year to year depending on exhibitions, major anniversaries etc., and at least one gallery visit will be included. The following areas will be covered:

1. Post-Impressionism and Fauvism.

2. Cubism.

3. Expressionism.

4. Dada and Surrealism.

5. Abstraction.

6. Figurative painting after 1945.

7. Pop Art.

8. Marcel Duchamp and Conceptual Art.

Teaching method(s)

Slide lectures allowing plenty of time for critical discussion. Guided gallery visit, continuing critical discussion.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Communicate a historical overview of the important developments in 20th-century art;

  • Assess critically the motivations and creative processes underlying works by key individuals;

  • ‘Read’, analyse and interpret works of art.


Core Readings


  • Lipsey, R., 1988. An Art of our Own:  The Spiritual in Twentieth Century Art.   Boulder CO: Shambhala.

  • Golding, J., 2000. Paths to the Absolute. London: Thames and Hudson.

  • Harrison, C. and Wood, P., eds., 2002. Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas. London: Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Fineberg, J., 1995. Art Since 1940: Strategies of Being. London: Laurence King Publishing.

  • Sylvester, D., 2002. About Modern Art:  Critical Essays 1948-2000. London: Pimlico.

There are good introductory monographs on many of the individual artists concerned in Taschen’s ‘Basic Art’ series. There are also valuable collections of artists’ own statements, for example:

  • Klee, Paul, 2013. Creative Confession, and other writings. London: Tate Publishing.

  • Mondrian, Piet, 1987. The New Art, The New Life: Collected Writings. London: Thames and Hudson.

Class Handouts

Course schedule, list of recommended further reading, weekly lecture notes, including quotations from artists and critics referred to during the course.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.