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In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting

The Museum of Modern Art via Coursera


Want to know how some of the 20th century’s most celebrated artists made abstract paintings? This course offers an in-depth, hands-on look at the materials, techniques, and thinking of seven New York School artists, including Willem de Kooning, Yayoi Kusama, Agnes Martin, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, and Mark Rothko. Through studio demonstrations and gallery walkthroughs, you’ll form a deeper understanding of what a studio practice means and how ideas develop from close looking, and you’ll gain a sensitivity to the physical qualities of paint. Readings and other resources will round out your understanding, providing broader cultural, intellectual, and historical context about the decades after World War II, when these artists were active.

The works of art you will explore in this course may also serve as points of departure to make your own abstract paintings. You may choose to participate in the studio exercises, for which you are invited to post images of your own paintings to the discussion boards, or you may choose to complete the course through its quizzes and written assessments only.

Learners who wish to participate in the optional studio exercises may need to purchase art supplies. A list of suggested materials is included in the first module.

Learning Objectives:

Learn about the materials, techniques, and approaches of seven New York School artists who made abstract paintings.

Trace the development of each artist’s work and studio practice in relation to broader cultural, intellectual, and historical contexts in the decades after World War II.

Hone your visual analysis skills.

Use each artist’s works as a point of departure for making your own abstract paintings.


  • Introduction
  • Barnett Newman
  • Willem de Kooning
  • Jackson Pollock
  • Mark Rothko
  • Agnes Martin
  • Ad Reinhardt
  • Yayoi Kusama
  • Yayoi Kusama: Lesson Choices
    • Choice 1: Final Project: Visual analysis essay | Choice 2: Final Project: Studio exercise and visual analysis essay

Taught by

Corey D'Augustine


5.0 rating, based on 2 Class Central reviews

4.9 rating at Coursera based on 1355 ratings

Start your review of In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting

  • Profile image for Diane Schofield
    Diane Schofield

    Diane Schofield completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    Fantastic course. It was so exciting to try all the different artist's techniques.; I learnt so much about my own painting practices and can honestly say it's one of the best courses I've taken. I hadn't painted for 6 years and this course got me back into my studio so I absolutely recommend it to anyone, whether they have painted before or not!
  • Katerina L. Xarchopoulou

    Katerina L. Xarchopoulou is taking this course right now, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    It was very helpful for understanding the era these artists were creating art, struggling to make a mark in the art world. They are very well explained, in the studio presentation and glossary is really helpful. I am very happy that I came across this course. I am always going back to previous videos and articles. In this way I always find myself to have learned more things every time I retake a look. To be honest, every time a unit finishes, I wish it weren't. Pure joy for the mind and soul!

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