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Short Course

Photography in Contemporary Art

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Fees: £660.00


The course explains the ways in which artists began to develop the medium of photography away from journalism and documentation towards a more conceptual and enquiring approach to image making. Moving from the roots of art photography in the 1960s to new directions to the conceptual and performative work of artists working today, students will learn how artists deliberately employ and question the character of photography. Historically a method of factual documentation, artists now deconstruct what once offered certainty in order to exploit the complexity of the photographic image. 

Find out the session schedule in the programme content tab below.

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Course dates

18 - 20 May 2017

10.30am - 4.00pm

Location: Christie's South Kensington, London



Joshua White
Faculty Member

Joshua White

Course Leader, London Art Course, Modern & Contemporary Art

Joshua White

This course offers morning lectures followed by visits to various galleries and exhibitions.

Day One: Photography and Art 

Described by the inventor of photography, Fox Talbot, as the ‘pencil of nature’ photography’s roots lie in the capacity to record people, places and events. It naturally lent itself to reportage, news and private commemoration. By the mid-20th century photographers began to explore the process of making a photographic image and how relationship between the image and the viewer. Photographers such as Stephen Shore, William Egglestone and Bernd and Hilla Becher, often used a detached, scrutinising style, drawing the viewer to consider the value of formal details. Some of these early art photographers took a more experimental approach, for example introducing colour into photography. This class explains their methods, intentions and ideas as students learn about the origins of art photography and how museums of contemporary art have responded.

Afternoon Visit to the Photographers’ Gallery and West End Exhibitions.


Day Two: Staging reality and the constructed image

The second lecture illustrates how artists have tested the way that photography can mimic reality with fictionalised stories and settings. New technology allows artists to stage constructed scenarios that uncannily resemble photojournalism or private photographs. Sometimes a story is explicitly embedded in the image or alternatively there might be more elusive fictions and re-enactments taking place. The class examines the role of narratives and allegory in the work of Jeff Wall, Gregory Crewdson, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Demand, Thomas Struth and Anne Hardy.

Afternoon visit to the Christie’s Photography Sale preview.


Day Three:  The photograph and performance

The concluding class investigates how the camera might initiate and record performances. Sometimes artists will enact unique events that are documented in photographs or will direct more ambitious conceptual projects that are determined by a process or an open ended project. Some of the photographers who adopt this strategy for image making include Gillian Wearing, Sophie Calle, Nan Goldin, and Philip Lorca DiCorcia.

Afternoon visit to Photo London at Somerset House.

There are no prerequisites for this course. 
The cost of the course is £660. 
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