Anteros Diploma

The Anteros Arts Foundation is a charity for education and the promotion of the arts in Norfolk.

Anteros is an art gallery. It offers studio spaces for artists. It runs a wide range of art courses aimed at all levels and all ages. It has an art reference library. It hosts concerts and other arts events. And it has an excellent cafe.

It also runs a concentrated eight month Diploma aimed at students looking to develop their skills and artistic practice. As part of the Anteros Diploma, I give a short series of lectures offering a general introduction to some ideas in the theory and history of art, focusing on painting, sculpture and drawing. We have called this Conversations about Art. The purpose of these is to encourage students and artists to think and talk about art in a way that will (I hope) feed into how they think and talk about their own work. These sessions are less lectures and more interactive discussion groups. They are designed to get us talking about possible answers to the question: “what do we think about when we think about art”. Notes for the talks can be found on drop down menu for each subject area and below you will find a brief introduction and suggestions for reading.



What do we think about when we think about art?  

What are we looking at when we look at a work of art?  

How do we “read” a painting or a sculpture?  

How much (or how little) does an understanding of the historical context of a work of art help us in appreciating it?  

Is a painting just “a flat surface covered with colours assembled in a certain order”?

Over the course of these four sessions, we will be thinking and talking about art. Using painting, sculpture and drawing, we will be looking at some of the ways in which artists, critics, art historians and philosophers analyse and “deconstruct” a work of art. Does a work of art contain a meaning or have a deeper life beyond the image it presents? If you feel it does and you would like to have an opportunity to think about and discuss your ideas and responses to art, then come and join us at Anteros to talk about the question: What do we think about when we think about art? 

I will be circulating notes and images from the seminars which I hope will be of help in the discussions and these are available on my website

There is no need to do any preliminary reading but if you would like some suggestions for background reading you might like to look at these books. 

Cynthia Freedland. Art Theory. A very short introduction.OUP. 2001

This has also been republished as But is it art. (2002). This is perhaps the best and easiest place to start. It is a short book (part of the OUP “VSI” series). Even if you don’t read the whole book (and not all of it is relevant) use the index to look up the subjects we are discussing. 

Dana Arnold. Art History. A very short introduction. OUP. 2004

You can even find a brief interview with the author about the book on You Tube. A sort of very, very short introduction to art history. 

Dana Arnold. A Short Book about Art. Tate Publishing. 2015. 

This is a useful book discussing art under six separate thematic headings: Looking, Materials, Mind, Devotion, Power, Sex. 

Julian Bell. What is Painting? Representation and Modern Art.Thames and Hudson. 1999

What is painting doing when its primary purpose is no longer to present an accurate image of the world around us? 

John Berger. Ways of Seeing.Penguin.  

Although this is not strictly about theory, it is about learning how to look at art and other images in a critical and quasi-theoretical way. 

Arthur Danto. What art is. Yale 2013

Danto is one of the leading philosophers of art, but this is a fairly straightforward and wide-ranging discussion of art and how to approach it theoretically. 

David Hockney and Martin Gayford. A History of Pictures.Thames and Hudson. 2016. 

This is an excellent book presented in the form of a series of discussions between Hockney and Gayford. It covers art history, art theory with Hockney making a number of fascinating observations on the practice of making pictures.

Nigel Warburton. The Art Question.Routledge. 2002

This deals with covers fewer subject areas than Freedland’s book but the ones it does cover, including Form, Expression and the Institutional Theory, are discussed in more detail. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be in the Millennium Library whereas the other books are. 

I hope this helps. 

Any questions or comments, please contact me on