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School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Touring Modernism: From the French avant-garde to American Pop and Beyond

School of the Art Institute of Chicago via Kadenze

This course may be unavailable.


This dynamic course focuses on the history of modern and postmodern art from the 19th and 20th centuries, with an emphasis on major works found in the collection of the renowned Art Institute of Chicago.  Painting, sculpture, photography, and other media, placed within a larger socio-political context, will reveal how aesthetic expression proves a compelling barometer of the modern human experience. 

From the advent of European democracy and the parallel birth of the avant-garde artist, whose singular vision boldly shattered prevailing styles and norms, to the radical rise of abstract painting and the even more provocative introduction of everyday objects into works of art, this course will unfold modernism’s defiant embrace of the new. This course will engage the major issues of twentieth-century aesthetic practice, from Freud’s description of the unconscious and the play of dreams as fertile source material for the artist, to the explosive rise of pop art and the dizzying information age that has profoundly shaped contemporary practice. To closely study modern and postmodern art is to learn how to look at the world, to take notice of form, color, and image, and to respond to the richness of visual and material culture that is all around us. 

This course will not only provide a canonical repertoire of great works of historic art, as well as the context for understanding them, but through the unfolding of such a narrative, these lectures will allow new ways of observing one’s own contemporary world and reimagining its value.


Session 1: The Rallying Cry Of The Avant-Garde: Romanticism, Realism, And Impressionism  Session 2: “Primitivism” And The Emotional Power Of Form: Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, And The Expressionists  Session 3: Painted Blueprints Of Utopia: Kandinsky, Mondrian, And Malevich  Session 4: Dada And Surrealism: Courting The Irrational With Chance, Dreams, And Play  Session 5: The Last Gasp Of Modernism – The Heroics Of The New York School  Session 6: Pop And Its Legacy/Minimalism And Its Renewal  Session 7: Critiquing The Institutions Of Art: Earthworks, Body, Conceptual Art  Session 8: The Cacophony Of Postmodernism In The Information Age 

Taught by

Lisa Wainwright


4.9 rating, based on 20 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Touring Modernism: From the French avant-garde to American Pop and Beyond

  • Anonymous
    I enjoyed learning, and the instructor made it fun and easy to understand. I recommend this course to anyone interested in History of Art.
  • Anonymous
    The content in the course was wonderful and well presented but the platform was very difficult to use. Why does the lecturer stand in front of the same set of paintings? Why not use that time to introduce more images or to focus on the artist she is…
  • I haven't completed the course yet but I've done three sessions and I thought it was interesting, informative and in several cases insightful. I only audited it; I would have liked to have participated more fully but it just wasn't practical for me.…
  • Anonymous
    Absolutely loved every minute of this course - especially the parts I didn't actually think I'd enjoy so much, or even understand. Lisa Wainwright is an absolute star, so easy to watch and explains difficult concepts brilliantly. The other interviewed experts are also fantastic. I have long been a lover of Art History but this course pushed me out of my comfort zone and introduced me to some incredible artists, movements and artistic philosophies - so much so I have decided to sign up for my Master Of Arts in Art History with the Open University here in the UK. Thank you so much to all concerned with the creation of this course, I just wish I had the funds to do the full program and develop my knowledge further.
  • Anonymous
    I loved this walk through art of the last 200 years. While I knew some of the artists and had seen their works in exhibitions I have never studied art history and when looking at Monet, Picasso, Manet etc I didn't have the mental toolbox to fit them into their place in the whole picture. I have so much more knowledge now which will enable me to enjoy, question, interrogate future visits to galleries.
    I particularly enjoyed the explanations of the constructionists, the Russian influence on modern art.
    I'd like to compliment the Art Institute on a brilliant idea, fabulously illustrated and explained so vividly. I love, love, loved the course. Thank you.
  • Anonymous
    I started this course as a complete amateur and now after completing Session 4, I feel much more confident with the subject-matter. Now I have boastfully started displaying my ability and knowledge on this topic to put my best foot forward. The course is devised in such a way that it provides us the urge to research further and explore the topics covered in an in-depth manner.
    Last but not least, hats off to the facilitator- Lisa Wainwright definitely has the biggest role in making this course a hit by making the sessions as engaging and fun as possible. I would give this course a green signal, without a second thought.
  • Anonymous
    I found the course extremely interesting.
    All the paintings were placed in their historic context and in their artistic period. The explanations were very didactic and very clear.
    Lisa Wainwright is full of energy. She explains the paintings in a passionate way, with details and rich remarks. With her "savoir faire" she makes people love art. I was impressed how she talked about the depiction of certain pieces of art.
    I live in Barcelona, but if one day I can go to Chicago, it's sure I will visite your Museum.
    Congratulations and thank you very much
    Pilar Ubiergo
    P.S. Excuse my English, I'm Spanisch
  • Anonymous
    I'd love to be able to do all the quizzes, even being a non-premium member. I am also concerned about the "course completion percentage" not changing since I was able to take my last quiz from session 1! I've been watching all videos and doing the blog posts, but it seems to be triggered by some other kinds of completed tasks..

    Thanks for a great, vivid, entertaining course!
  • Anonymous
    I loved this course, It was very informative. She teaches about all the important artists of the period and how to read art. As some one who has not studied modern art history before, I find this course very interesting and educational. Thank you so much for offering this course free for students like me who would not be able to afford it otherwise. Great job!
  • Anonymous
    Decided to take class because of Covid 19 distancing. I thought the class was wonderful. As a former History major I particularly enjoyed integrating social history and its influence in changes in artistic styles. I thought the Professor was amazing in tying the 4 sessions together. The art choices was very impressive. Extremely worthwhile class.
  • Anonymous
    Touring Modernism is an excellent art history course. Ms. Wainwright gives stimulating and informative lectures about the modern art movements, the artists, and their work, including sculpture and early photographic works. She enlightens the student with details of the artists’ life and sometimes their interaction with other artists within the group.
  • Anonymous
    An excellent course!
    Yes it is compressed and spot on, Ms. Wainright has a real understanding and explanation of which she speaks. This is a serious introduction to the period. As a point of comparison, I studied Art History under Jansen, Rosenblum and Schiff and can honestly say Ms. Wainright stands among those giants.
    Bravo!!! and Thank You.
  • Anonymous
    This is one of the best online art courses I have ever attended. There was an opportunity to view many artworks. The speaker had an in-depth knowledge of art history and expressed herself in simple, every-day language. Too often, artspeak sounds arrogant and elitist to me - that was not the case here. I would highly recommend this course.
  • Enrique Viturro
    Lisa Wainwright does an excellent job teaching this course. Her approach to the subjects, her inside, and her sharp, direct comments, made these lectures totally enjoyable. In spite of myself being quite knowledgeable on these topics, I learned a lot more about the dramatic transitions during this period of art. Kudos to Lisa!!
  • Anonymous
    Fantastic course. I was totally new to the concept of art and this course really made me understand art and love it. The credit goes to Lisa Wainwright who transmits the knowledge with a lot of passion and energy keeping you hooked. A really enjoyable course.
  • Profile image for Thomas Danielson
    Thomas Danielson
    Interesting course with good content. However, the host was annoying with her constant use of "Right" and her feminist complaints. Additionally, remove the loud guitar music at the introduction to each session-not appealing and just hurt my ears.
  • Anonymous
    wish there was some more downloadable resources and maybe a summary of the premium content, one shouldn't feel left out simply because they're broke. Besides that, loved the course and the teacher! I'd like to see more by the school and the dean.
  • Anonymous
    The course was fantastic - interesting and comprehensive.Lisa Wainwright is really knowledgable and enthusiastic. I enjoyed writing the essays as it made me do some research and find out more. Very well worth while.
  • Anonymous
    Wainwright was great. extremely knowledgeable..I enjoyed her insights and I depth knowledge of relationship between art and society thru the ages. Loved her delivery. Having her i a classroom would be awesome.
  • Anonymous
    Thanks for the new and interesting information! Now I will know and understand art better and I will try to apply knowledge in life

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