The 50 Million Dollar Diamond Skull – Contemporary Art in the 21st Century

Registration is closed. 

Course Description:

Artists in recent years have installed huge steel slabs in the desert, cut holes in buildings, staged performances in city squares and created a human skull encrusted with diamonds as works of art.  Many artists no longer actually make paintings or sculptures themselves, preferring to outsource their work to factories and craftspeople.  Collectors and museums across the world sometimes pay millions of dollars for their art, and more people than ever are visiting galleries to see their creations.  How did we get here?

This 4-week course explores key developments in contemporary art since the 1960s.  We consider the extraordinary changes in the production, distribution and presentation of art over the past 50 years. Particular emphasis will be placed on theoretical and critical issues as defined by the emergence of new artistic media and techniques including performance, photography, installation, video and digital art, and their relation to earlier ideas and concepts.  In addition to the four taught sessions, there will be an accompanied visit to Art Dubai prior to the final week.

Participants will develop skills to interpret, understand (and hopefully enjoy!) contemporary art, and they will gain an overview of the role of art in today’s globalized society.  The main focus will be on artists and movements of the US and Europe but the final session will also explore how artists in the Arab world have developed distinctive styles and techniques.

Entry Requirements:

Good level of English language (no translation will be provided).
Previous art related experience or education is not required.

Sumantro Ghose


22nd February - 22nd March 2017. Wednesday evenings 6.30 – 9.30pm

Week  1 -  22nd February

This session explores the emergence of contemporary art practices in the 1960s and 1970s including pop, conceptual art and minimalism and the influence of this period on the artists of today.  Theories of modernism and postmodernism will be introduced.   

Artists: Andy Warhol, Richard Serra, Damien Hirst

Week 2  -  1st March

This session looks at the origins and development of performance and installation art through the work of a range of artists including Robert Rauschenberg, Josef Beuys, Olafur Eliason, Anthony Gormley and Marina Abramovic.

Week 3   - 8th March

Who legitimizes artists and who decides what their work is worth? This session looks at the structures that surround and support contemporary art, from the white cube gallery space and the ‘starchitect’-designed modern art museum to the glamour-filled auctions and art fairs of recent years. 

We consider the function and purpose of Guggenheim, Tate, Frieze Art Fair and Art Basel, and explore the activities of collectors, art foundations, curators and critics.  We also preview Art Dubai ahead of our visit the following week.

Week 4 – Saturday 18th March 2 – 4 PM. 

An optional, informal afternoon visit to Art Dubai with the course tutor.  Admission fee is included.

Week 5  - 22nd March

The final session includes a visit to the current exhibitions in Alserkal Avenue (tbc) and a review of Art Dubai 2017.  The focus of this week is on art’s globalization and Contemporary Art in the Middle East 

Salsali Private Museum

Continue Shopping or Checkout

Related Items