The artist

Wednesday 6, 13, 20, 27 February & 6 & 13 March, 11am–1pm

Sainsbury Wing Theatre

Chantal Brotherton-Ratcliffe, Carlo Corsato, Carol Jacobi, Alex Massouras, Nicola McCartney, Rodrigo Orrantia, Belle Smith, Annette Wickham

£295/£275 conc./£255 Members & Patrons

Skilled craftsman, tortured genius, art world dissident – the idea of the artist has changed radically over centuries...

On this course, we explore how the identity of the artist has evolved throughout history. 

The notion of the artist as a solitary genius with political views and working within a specific social or historical context has had a powerful hold on how art can be understood.

We know how famous artists trained, traded, collaborated, practised, promoted themselves, and were paid and judged.

What does this tell us about how they saw themselves, and how they were seen by others? And what are we left with if we don't think about the artist when trying to get to grips with their art?

About the course

Each week is taught by a different expert, and you learn from talks in the lecture theatre and Q&A discussion.


Week 5: 6 February: The Romantic genius
Tutor: Belle Smith

Discover how artists of the Romantic period, such as Turner and Friedrich, came to be seen as visionaries.

Week 6: 13 February: The artist’s network
Tutor: Belle Smith

19th-century artists were rarely solitary in their creativity. Artists such as the Impressionists forged networks to spark ideas.

Week 7: 20 February: The bohemian rebel
Tutor: Carol Jacobi

By the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was desirable and even glamorous to break the rules and overthrow tradition, to trailblaze and reject society.

Week 8: 27 February: The post-war professional
Tutor: Alex Massouras

The post-war desire for cultural regeneration saw the establishments of arts councils, funding bodies, educational programmes, residencies, and awards. As art became professionalised, so did the artist.

Week 9: 6 March: The creative entrepreneur
Tutor: Rodrigo Orrantia

Today’s young creatives are multi-platform artists, constructing many artistic identities. They are versatile in their practice. In the age of the internet when everyone can be an artist, and everyone a critic, their network is more important than ever.

Week 10: 13 March: Art world dissidents
Tutor: Nicola McCartney

How are artists reinventing themselves in times of austerity? In this final talk, we look at contemporary artists such as the Guerrilla Girls and Bob and Roberta Smith who work collectively and share recognition. How does this alternative identity challenge the art market, and is it symptomatic of a greater cultural and political rebellion?

Image above: Detail from Paul Cézanne, Self Portrait, about 1880