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The extreme politicization of identity in recent times has meant that art and culture have come under scrutiny for how it has contributed to and maintained certain concepts about race and gender.

These have included the toppling of monuments that celebrate the colonial history, to addressing the imbalances in representation in museum and gallery collections which have until recently overwhelmingly excluded both women artists and artists of color. Art History itself has played a role in shaping who and what is visible and who has cultural and political authority.

This course is an introduction to some of the key topics and themes around race and gender and how they play out across the visual arts and the arts industries. We will take a revised look at the "story" of art history as a narrative that has excluded certain groups and privileged others and engages with debates around the ways in which collections and curatorial efforts continue to respond to these issues.

This course will explore the ways in which women and people of color have historically been depicted in art images, exploring terms such as "orientalism," "objectification," "misogynoir," as well as considering the overlooked contribution of women and artists of color. Topics will span from rethinking key movements and stylistic categories such as the ‘Renaissance’ or ‘Classical Antiquity’ to exploring how artists have engaged with fixed prejudices about race and gender as a form of political activism, from the work of the second wave women’s movement in Europe and the US to Kara Walker’s recent works of public sculpture.

We will think about what blackness/whiteness, man/woman, male/female have meant in images.

Crucially we will also consider how art history connects with popular culture to reflect these issues beyond the spaces of the museum, such as in fashion’s recent fascination with feminist art history and how Beyonce’s self-crafted images draw on the cultural history of feminism and race.

This Intensive Course consists of live-streamed lectures and discussions. Recordings of the live sessions are accessible anytime during the course via our online learning platform, Canvas.

Students will learn:

  • Understand key terms: Feminism, orientalism, misogynoir, post-colonialism, intersectionality, Afrocentrism
  • Introduction to the work of under-recognized artists
  • Critical skills for thinking about institutions and their work critically
  • Debates around representation and agency in museum and exhibition programming
The Details
  • Course Dates & Fees

    Course Dates & Fees

    January 27 - February 5, 2021
    5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. GMT
    (12:30 p.m. ET / 9:30 a.m. PT)
    Week 1: Wed-Fri
    Week 2: Mon-Fri
    Course Fee: £795.00 (£715, if registered by December 8, 2020)
    All online Intensive Courses are developed in London by Sotheby's Institute faculty, programming staff, and industry experts.
  • How It Works

    How It Works

    Our online Intensive Courses are designed to enrich and deepen your understanding of a specific art world subject in an accelerated and dynamic format. The courses are ideal for undergraduates, career changers, art professionals, and art lovers seeking to learn more about art and cultural history or to acquire specific knowledge/skills.
    Led by art professionals drawn from our global faculty, these courses provide participants with expert insight and practical skills through a combination of livestreamed lectures and group discussion. Course materials and lecture recordings can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via Sotheby’s Institute’s learning platform – Canvas. Canvas is an intuitive, self-contained environment that requires no additional software.
    Once you successfully complete the course, you will receive a verified Certificate of Completion from Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Our digital certificates allow you to share new skills with various social media platforms, including LinkedIn.
  • Who Is This Course For?

    Who Is This Course For?

    This course is open to anyone interested in an introduction to key themes around race and gender and how they play out across the visual arts and the arts industries.
  • Key Skills

    Key Skills

    Participants in this course will develop skills in the following areas:

    • Art History

    • Cultural Studies

    • Sociology and Politics

    • Art Market debates

  • Faculty


    Catherine McCormack
    (Program Director, MA Art Logistics) 
    is an art history lecturer and writer on historical and contemporary art. She completed her PhD at UCL where she was a Teaching Fellow in the art history department and she lectures for Sotheby's Institute on art from the 15th to 19th centuries. Alongside her historical specialisms she also has an interest in feminist art theory and is the Course Leader for the Women and Art Summer school. Catherine has presented her historical research at numerous conferences internationally and has published her writing in both academic journals and in museum and gallery catalogues on contemporary art.
    Catherine is the author of the Art of Looking Up, a selection of essays on decorated ceilings ranging from the sixth century to the twenty-first (White Lion, 2019), and Women in the Picture, a feminist polemic about objectification and women's bodies in visual culture (Icon Books, 2020).
  • Register


    Click here to register.

    This course is listed under the Intensive Course option in the online application. Online Intensive Courses are open to anyone 18 years of age and older. Registration takes approximately 5 minutes to complete.
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