From Modernism to Modern Times (1870 to 2015) Modern Art

This course looks at modern art and design from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. There is no doubt modern and contemporary art and design can be challenging and even sometimes frustrating, but as this course will show, it can also be funny, entertaining and deeply rewarding.

The programme is more or less chronological, although we will step out of time periodically to look at the ongoing legacies of a number of movements.

No previous knowledge of art, history, or art history is necessary, and your tutor is an expert at guiding both novices and the more experienced through the intricacies of modern and contemporary art and design.

The course is organised to encourage discussion and debate, whilst also allowing us to explore the historical development of modern and contemporary art and design, and the ideas and influences behind the work of artists and designers of this period.


1. What’s so modern about modern art?
2. Impressionism into Post-Impressionism
3. Modern Design: from William Morris to the Bauhaus
4. Secessionism, Anarchism and an Art of Dissent
5. Munch, Ensor and Expressionism
6. From Expressionist Film to Horror Film
7. Matisse and the Wild Beasts
8. Cubism and its Offspring in Art and Design
9. Bloomsbury and Blast! British Modernism before the First World War


10. Herbert Read, The Green Child and British Sculpture in the 1930s
11. Constructivism in Britain and Mainland Europe
12. Dada and Surrealism
13. Optimism and Austerity in Post-War Art and Design
14. Abstraction in Britain and America
15. From Britain with Love? The Origin and Development of Pop Art
16. Pop, Minimalism and Photorealism in Art and Design
17. The New Sculpture in Britain and America
18. From Dada to Conceptualism
19. Neo-Conceptualism and the Brit Art Generation
20. And now?

About the tutor

This course is taught by Dr Michael Paraskos, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Programme Officer in the art history department at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Michael is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction and has published very widely on art of this period, as well as reviewing exhibitions and novels for BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and The Spectator magazine.

Questions regarding the content and teaching of the above course should be sent to the tutor, Dr Michael Paraskos,

Enrolment infos

Imperial College undergraduates and postgraduates may, if they wish, acquire 2 ECTS credits after successfully completing their Evening Class. To qualify, a student must attend the classes regularly and pass a test at the end of the second term. Students will be invited to apply in the second term to take the test.