This intensive semester course combines an exploration of the historical and stylistic development of Western European decorative arts, design and interiors of the early 17th to the late 20th Centuries, with an introduction to the professional world of working with objects from these centuries. It is for individuals who wish to gain knowledge of the decorative arts and of twentieth century design; those interested in interior design; and those considering a career change into the art and interior design worlds. It also serves as a bridging course for students with an undergraduate degree in a subject other than art history who wish to apply for a postgraduate program at Sotheby’s Institute. In particular, it is an appropriate foundation for the MA in Fine and Decorative Art and Design (MAFDAD).
In the first half of the course the decorative arts in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries are studied in relation to architecture and interiors, as well as in their wider historical cultural contexts. Topics include the growth of consumer desire and maker expertise in objects in Europe from the seventeenth century, of new materials and techniques, dissemination of taste, the court applied art of Louis XIV, the development of ‘true’ porcelain at Meissen and Sèvres, the influence of trade with the East, and the renewed interest in antiquity by the end of the eighteenth century. The major themes of Historicism and Design Reform, highlighting important figures such as Augustus Pugin, William Morris, Owen Jones and Christopher Dresser, define the focus of study for the nineteenth century. In the second half of the course these themes are further considered relative to the impact of Japanese art and design in Europe and America, and the resultant birth of aestheticism and Fin de Siècle ‘new art’. The twentieth century - a dynamic and complex period of both decorative and design innovation - is given particular, intensive attention. Stylistic and theoretical approaches are studied, from early twentieth century Vienna and America, to French Art Deco, European Modernism, and to post-World War II modernity. The course concludes with an exploration of the plurality of approaches up to the 1980s, including Pop and Postmodernism. Some object handling, and visits to museums and collections, archives, auction houses, workshops and/or studios are important features of the curriculum.
The program requires no prior knowledge of the field.