We use cookies to improve your experience online. By using our website, you agree to the use of cookies as described in our cookies policy.

Essential forms: antiquities and universal motifs

Two-day art history and theory course

Short course

  • 14 April 2018, 10am — 5pm
  • 15 April 2018, 10am — 5pm
This event has now ended

See upcoming short courses

Ancient Marbles and Alghiero Boetti, Ancient Marbles: Classical Sculpture And Works Of Art At Sotheby's Auction House, 9 June 2017.

© DACS, Photo credit: Giulia Cavagnis.

Leading art-world experts and international scholars introduce and de-mystify the fascinating world of antiquities and the ancient arts – with a view to the timeless forms, ideas and universal motifs that are so influential across the arts and culture up to the present day.

Western civilisation is shaped by the ideas, intellectual and visual, of the ancients; the canon of Western art and architecture is founded on the arts of antiquity. Everywhere we see references to them, whether in the works of Michelangelo or Modigliani, the architectural details of our buildings, or the design of furniture and the everyday objects in our homes. We find, in antiquity, essential forms and timeless motifs that have been used and re-used by artists and craftsmen over centuries. These have had a profound influence on the craftsmen of the middle ages through to the renaissance, when rediscoveries of the ancient masterpieces inspired Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo.

Ideas, stories and aesthetic forms from ancient cultures have motivated the modern, western avant-garde artists of the 20th century, including Picasso, Matisse and Albers, and in turn, radically influenced contemporary artists up to the present day. This course coincides with the research project on Modern Classicisms and The Classical Now exhibition at King’s College London, which aims to explore the enduring legacy of ancient Greek and Roman visual culture in contemporary art – as ideal, antitype or point of departure.

And yet in spite of their universal influence, the arts of the ancient world and antiquities remain little understood, often misrepresented and mysterious to us. The course will provide an overview of selected moments in the area we call antiquities: a vast field spanning over 5000 years and several continents, including the civilisations of Ancient Greece and Rome, of Mesopotamia and the ancient Near East, ancient Egypt, and the cultures of the Mediterranean basin including the Celts, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. Experts will offer insights into key objects as well as the context of the civilisations that produced them. We will consider the relevance of these objects, forms and ideas today, and what we learn from them – from the deciphering of the earliest form of writing to the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard.

This course is notable in involving international experts and scholars who have had experience of both researching and writing about existing and newly discovered objects from the ancient world, as well as, critically, handling and curating them. Focusing on object-based learning, this course will provide detailed discussion on the protection of cultural heritage or restitution issues. Experts will share their knowledge and passion for both the history and the material culture with a view to their contemporary significance and ideas they embody.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

  • 14 April 2018, 10am — 5pm
  • 15 April 2018, 10am — 5pm

The Life Room, The Royal Academy Schools

£360. Includes all materials, light refreshments at the beginning of each day and wine reception.