Academic Courses

Center for the Study of Modern Art

The Center for the Study of Modern Art offers courses in art history, museum studies, and modern and contemporary art theory and practice. Courses are offered every fall and spring and are in collaboration with regional universities.

Spring 2015 Courses - Registration now Closed

Race and Representation since the Harlem Renaissance

Tuesdays, January 13April 21, 2015
–7 pm 

Instructor: Anne Monahan, 2014-15 Phillips Collection/George Washington University Postdoctoral Fellow

This graduate seminar considers the diverse strategies by which artists, scholars, and critics have engaged issues of race and representation since the advent of Black Modernism in the 1920s. To frame such an expansive subject, the course focuses on the racial categories of blackness and whiteness and primarily, but not exclusively, on the visual culture of the United States. It concerns not only racially conscious interventions made by artists of the African diaspora and their white counterparts, but also the ways in which race has informed, implicitly or explicitly, the reception of visual cultural production over the last century. Drawing on texts from a variety of methodological, disciplinary, and theoretical positions, the seminar aims to understand more fully the complicated relationship of art and race as a mechanism of social, cultural, and political formation.

In collaboration with George Washington University.

About the Partnership with the George Washington University
The Phillips Collection has a wide-ranging partnership with George Washington University, including co-organization of the Conversations with Artists series, internships, an art therapy program, art history courses at the Center, and an annual postdoctoral fellowship position.

Jacob Lawrence: Inventing at the Crossroads of History and Identity

Fridays, January 16–April 24, 2015
1–3:30 pm

Instructor: Elizabeth Hutton Turner, University Professor, University of Virginia

Designed by The University of Virginia McIntire Department of Art in collaboration with The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, this seminar will help students learn to conduct research in a museum setting. The course will utilize the space of the museum as a laboratory for first-hand experiences with objects in the galleries and, with supervision, behind the scenes in conservation and storage. In conservation, under supervision, we will learn to decipher the physical characteristics of the artist’s materials and mark making. In the gallery setting we will learn how through juxtaposition, comparison and contrast the curator utilizes the experience of spatial arrangements as intellectual basis for inquiry and interpretation.  

Weekly readings and class discussions in art, literature and history as well as literary theory will help us to find the tools to tease out meanings relevant to Lawrence’s intentions and time period. Students will pursue the sources for Lawrence’s selections of historical subjects as well as his composition and quotes informing the captions through the primary sources. Each student will contribute to extended labels, conduct a presentation in the gallery and write a 12 to 15 page paper containing original research. Ultimately the goal for this type of inquiry is to introduce a new type of objects based research and to promote understanding of Lawrence’s narrative as well as to stimulate much needed new research on the Struggle Series.

In collaboration with the University of Virginia.