Touring Modernism: From the French Avant-Garde to American Pop and Beyond

Touring Modernism: From the French Avant-Garde to American Pop and Beyond

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

This dynamic program focuses on the history of modern and postmodern art from the 19th and 20th centuries, with an emphasis on major works found in the collection of the renowned Art Institute of Chicago. Painting, sculpture, photography, and other media, placed within a larger socio-political context, will reveal how aesthetic expression proves a compelling barometer of the modern human experience.

From the advent of European democracy and the parallel birth of the avant-garde artist, whose singular vision boldly shattered prevailing styles and norms, to the radical rise of abstract painting and the even more provocative introduction of everyday objects into works of art, this course will unfold modernism’s defiant embrace of the new. This course will engage the major issues of twentieth-century aesthetic practice, from Freud’s description of the unconscious and the play of dreams as fertile source material for the artist, to the explosive rise of pop art and the dizzying information age that has profoundly shaped contemporary practice. To closely study modern and postmodern art is to learn how to look at the world, to take notice of form, color, and image, and to respond to the richness of visual and material culture that is all around us.

This program will not only provide a canonical repertoire of great works of historic art, as well as the context for understanding them, but through the unfolding of such a narrative, these lectures will allow new ways of observing one’s own contemporary world and reimagining its value.

Learning Outcomes

  • Cultural and Political Influences: Ability to understand the cultural and political contexts of specific art movements. Understanding gender biases and the absence of women artists in the modern period. Understanding racial biases and the issue of primitivism in the modern period.
  • Vocabulary of Art: Ability to articulate concepts of style in terms of describing form, color, line, light, materiality, and space. Ability to describe different techniques of painting, collage, photography etc.
  • Identification and Understanding of the Icons of Art History: Ability to identify key artists and works in their respective time periods, movements and styles. Ability to understand the chronological succession of art movements and why. Understanding the basic biographies of the major figures in the modern and postmodern era.


3 Courses
12 Sessions / 12.0 hours of work per session
90 Lesson videos
Course 1: Charting the Avant Garde: From Romanticism to Utopic Abstraction Starts in 2 days
  • Session 1: Rebellion in the 19th Century: Avant-Garde to Realism
  • Session 2: Form and Color in Painting: Impressionism and Post-Impressionism
  • Session 3: The 20th Century Explodes: Fauvism to German Expressionism
  • Session 4: Utopia and Progress: Abstraction to Futurism
Course 2: Surrealism and Its Legacy * Starts in 2 days
  • Session 1: Pranksters, Tricksters, Revolutionaries
  • Session 2: Surrealist Dreams
  • Session 3: The Last Gasp Of Modernism
  • Session 4: The Romantic Sublime/ American Style
Course 3: Pop, Minimalism, and Postmodernism * Starts in 2 days
  • Session 1: Pop And Its Legacy
  • Session 2: Minimalism And The Phenomenology Of Being
  • Session 3: Critiquing The Institutions Of Art
  • Session 4: The Cacophony Of Postmodernism In The Information Age
* Program exclusive course

Featured Coursework


Skill Level : Beginner

There are no required materials for this program.

Upon completion you'll earn
  • A verified Specialist Certificate that prove you completed the Program and mastered the subject.*
  • A verified course Certificate for each individual course you complete in the program.*
  • 3.0 transferable academic college credit(s) (additional fees apply)

* Each certificate earned is endorsed by Kadenze and the offering institution(s).

Price: $195 USD * ($300 USD)

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Specialist Certificate

Receive a Specialist Certificate by earning a Certificate of Accomplishment in each course within a Program.
Students earn a Certificate of Accomplishment for any course they complete with a grade of 65% or higher.
Using its unique link, you can share your certificate with everyone from future employers and schools to friends, family, and colleagues.

Credit Eligible

3.0 units
Kadenze has partnered with School of the Art Institute of Chicago to offer this course for college credit.*
*If enrolled for credit, this rigorous college-level Program will provide credits that are recognized and transferable from the partnering institution upon completion. Credit as workload and transferability is defined by the granting institution. Participation in this Program does not represent an acceptance decision or admission from the institution that offers them.

*In order to receive college credit, learners must complete all courses within the Program. Credit is not given for partial completion.

Why join a Program?

Becoming a specialist in a subject requires a highly tuned learning experience connecting multiple related courses. Programs unlock exclusive content that helps you develop a deep understanding of your subject. From your first course to your final summative assessment, our thoughtfully curated curriculum enables you to demonstrate your newly acquired skills.

Program Benefits
Access an exclusive curriculum taught by expert instructors and industry leaders
Earn a verified Specialist Certificate with a unique shareable link
Submit and share coursework
Enroll in credit-eligible Programs and receive college credit (when applicable)
Receive grades and feedback
Build a portfolio to showcase your work
Participate in forum discussions
Receive exclusive discounts on select Program materials
Test your new specialty with a summative assessment
Collaborate with peers