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Unit information: Approaches to the Artist (Reflective Art History Unit) in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Approaches to the Artist (Reflective Art History Unit)
Unit code HART30007
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Shaw-Miller
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History of Art (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will consider the idea of the artist as a part of the discussion of the culture and of the cultural products of any given historical era. What art historians think they know about ‘the artist’ as a category is open to constant scrutiny within the discipline, and new approaches to the idea of ‘the artist’ (or of any given artist) can substantially change the ways in which artists and their works are considered. As well as this, academic and popular views of particular individual artists, or groups of artists, can shift and change, producing further new interpretations and frameworks within which they and their works can be considered. This unit encourages students to examine the theoretical issues presented by studying artists – as a category or individually – and to consider the changing receptions in academic and popular culture of particular artists and groups of artists.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of the development of the idea of the artist;
  2. evaluate the changing ways in which the works of an artist or group of artists may be viewed over time;
  3. analyse theoretical issues presented in studying artists
  4. identify and evaluate pertinent evidence/data in order to advance a cogent argument;
  5. demonstrate skills in evaluating, analysing, synthesising and (where apt) critiquing material and ideas appropriate to level H/6.

Teaching details

1 x two-hour seminar and 1 x one-hour workshop

Assessment Details

One two-hour exam 100% [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

Barker, Emma et al (eds.), The Changing Status of the Artist, New Haven/London, Yale University Press/Open University, 1999.

Vasari, Giorgio, The Lives of the Artists (edited and translated by G. Bull; first published in 1550) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Krauss, Rosilind, 'In the Name of Picasso', October, Vol. 16, Art World Follies (Spring, 1981), pp. 5-22.

Cubism and Abstract Art (MoMA, NY, 1936)

David Cottington, Cubism and Its Histories (MUP, 2004)