Essential forms: revealing antiquities and the ancient world

Two-day art history and theory course

Courses and Classes

  • 14 October 2017, 10am — 5pm
  • 15 October 2017, 10am — 5pm


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.

This course has been postponed; please check back for further updates.

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 civilization 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, or the architectural details of our buildings, 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, having 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 forms from ancient cultures motivated the modern western avant-garde of the 20th century including Picasso, Matisse and Albers, and in turn have radically influenced contemporary art up to the present today.

And yet in spite of their universal influence, the arts of the ancient world and antiquities remain little understood, often mis-represented and mysterious to us. The course will provide an overview and selected moments in the area we call antiquities: a vast field spanning over 5000 years and several continents including the civilizations 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 insight 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 decipherment of the earliest form of writing to the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard.

The 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 not 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 October 2017, 10am — 5pm
  • 15 October 2017, 10am — 5pm

The Life Room, The Royal Academy Schools

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